Daniel Barnes
The Value Industry
A Theory of Art, Money and Celebrity
For many years now, I have been floating around the art market and thinking a lot about the relationship between art and money. I realised that nobody really knows what value is, but thought I could construct a theory of it in terms of the commercial artworld. And so began this book project. The project is ongoing. I might post chapters as and when I finish them. Let me know if you want to publish this book.
In a world where contemporary art is inseparable from mass culture, where auction prices and celebrity artists make sensational headlines, we have lost sight of the concept of value. Can an artwork by a superstar artist like Gerhard Richter really be worth £10million? The mystifying thing is that sometimes it can be because price is a measure of value, but value cannot be reduced to price alone, for there are other factors at work which have nothing to do with either money or art. The Value Industry explores what value is and how it is created in a climate where it is more difficult than ever to tell the difference between important and expensive art. It is ultimately argued that – despite the noise of contemporary spectacle – the core value of art is in aesthetics, which is often obscured by the market.
The nature of value is unlocked through analysis of a constellation of stories from the everyday madness of the contemporary artworld. Damien Hirst commanding the destruction of a Spot Painting shows how the true value of conceptual art is in the idea, while celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Snoop Dogg and James Franco trying to be artists reveals a definition of art and the artworld. Jeff Koons selling an idea rather than an artwork provides insight into the power of an artist’s brand, and the sale of Tracey Emin’s infamous bed demonstrates how the business of art threatens cultural legacy.
Part I draws a distinction between economic and cultural value, demonstrating just how much the price of art can reveal about value; Part II explores how artworld myths and the mechanics of modern celebrity create value; and Part III argues that the value of art is about something much deeper than money, namely culture and aesthetics. In the final analysis, it emerges that contemporary art is an industry concerned with the production of value rather than culture, which distracts us from the basic aesthetic significance of art, even though that is what the market is ultimately selling.
Part I. Value between Art and the Market

1. Spot the Difference 
2. Bringing Home the Bacon 
3. The Birth of Value Out of the Spirit of Experts 
4. The Richter Scale, or the Unbearable Lightness of Being Priceless 
5. Total Eclipse of the Art 
6. We Need to Talk about Damien 
7. The Virtually Inclusive Art Market 
8. The Real Value of an Idea in the Mind of Someone Living
9. Peake Performance
10. The Loan Ranger
11. Laughing All the Way to the Banksy 
12. Only Venture Capitalists Can Play with This Balloon
13. For the Love of Art and Money 
Part II. Myth and the Artworld

14. Selling Styles
15. Don’t Break My Art, My Achy Breaky Art
16. Franco, My Dear, I Don’t Give a Damn
17. History is Not Art and Art is Not History 
18. The Truth or Something Beautiful 
19. They Studied Sculpture at St Martin’s College
20. The Starry Heavens Above, The Moral Law Within
21. I’d be Safe and Warm if I was in LA
22. The Great Dictator, or, Rebel with a Cause 
23. A Rolling Schnabel Gathers No Sparks 
24. The Genesis of a Fable
25. Empire Strikes Back 
26. Beautiful Inside Our Heads Forever 
27. The Pay Me Girl Has Had Enough of the Bleeps 
Part III. Culture and Aesthetics 

28. Bacchus to Basics
29. For Richter or Poorer 
30. Bacon’s Pound of Flesh 
31. The Importance of Being Tracey
32. The Value of Anything and Nothing At All 
33. We’re Paying with the Love Tonight
34. Everything in Its Right Place 
35. Like a Dog Returns to Its Vomit
36. Girl Power and Prozac
37. Top of the Flops 
38. The Balloon Monkey is Not What It Seems