Comedian Adam Conover Says the Art Market Is a Scam. Here’s What He Gets Right—and Wrong. 


Is the art market no more than a playground for snobs and crooks? The comedian Adam Conover certainly thinks so. He makes the case in a five-minute video released yesterday as the latest in his web series “Adam Ruins Everything.” The segment, dripping with a Morley Safer-worthy level of contempt for the art world, has already exceeded one million views.

Conover’s thrust is that the art market is hopelessly corrupt, and manipulated by a tiny cabal of oily back-room wheeler-dealers who not only determine the price of art and rig the system to enrich themselves—they also define “what art is.”

 Some of Conover’s claims—which echo many complaints lobbed at the art world in recent years—are better-researched than others. A principal problem with the video is that “the art market” is described as a monolith, but most in the art world recognize that “the art market” is in fact a constellation of mini-markets, and that the business of a mom-and-pop shop bears little resemblance to that of an international behemoth like Gagosian. (Likewise, the stock market isn’t only populated by corporate raiders, inside traders, and Apple but also hundreds of millions of striving businesses operating with public investment.) The climactic claim that the corrupt market determines “what art is” also discounts the many practices that aim to wriggle free of capital (see: social practice, performance art, etc.)

But he’s not always wrong. Below, we consider a handful of the creatively coiffed comedian’s claims.

Read full text, plus images, at: Comedian Adam Conover Says the Art Market Is a Scam. Here’s What He Gets Right—and Wrong. | artnet News

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