The Great Contemporary Art Bubble

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The Great Contemporary Art Bubble
ABC  |  March 12, 2012

This decade has seen the greatest rise in the value of art in the history of the world as contemporary art prices increased by 800% from 2003 until 2008. The lustrous contemporary art bubble blew bigger and lasted longer than the global credit bubble, the property bubble and the oil bubble. Art critic, art lover and filmmaker Ben Lewis spent all of 2008 investigating this bubble.

This decade has seen the greatest rise in the value of art in the history of the world as contemporary art prices increased by 800% from 2003 until 2008. The lustrous contemporary art bubble blew bigger and lasted longer than the global credit bubble, the property bubble and the oil bubble. Art critic, art lover and filmmaker Ben Lewis spent all of 2008 investigating this bubble.

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Face of Britain by Simon Schama

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In this film, Simon Schama explores the complex motivations behind some of our most intriguing self-portraits, looking at what they say about both the creative minds of the artists who produced them and the human condition. From Tracy Emin's bed, a relic of our confessional age, to Lucien Freud's searing examinations of his ageing body, the film explores how all self-portraits stand on a knife-edge between self-indulgence and self-scrutiny. Schama explores the daring first glimmers of self-portraiture in a 13th-century manuscript, and how the incarceration of artist Gerlach Flicke led to the creation of the first English self-portrait that looks us straight in the eye. He shows how the frustrated potential of artist Isaac Fuller led to a self-portrait of unprecedented poignancy, and how the romantic imagination of Samuel Palmer created works of visionary beauty. Laura Knight's use of her own image to defy the male-dominated art establishment, and William Orpen's painted search for his own identity during World War I reflect the complex motivations that have driven artists to make themselves the subject of their work. Visiting the hundreds of figures that make up Antony Gormley's monumental sculpture Another Place, Schama reflects on this collective self-portrait that inspires us all to contemplate our place in the world.

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