Blurred Lines: Inside the Art World, the latest effort from Canadian filmmaker Barry Avrich (Show Stopper: The Theatrical Life of Garth Drabinsky, Quality Balls: The David Steinberg Story) turns his focus to the world of modern art and a look at how it’s becoming near impossible for even the super-wealthy to become serious art collectors thanks to a volatile, constantly skyrocketing market for trendy works from recognizable, name-valued artists.
Set against the backdrop of a record setting Sotheby’s auction just days after the American financial collapse of 2008, Avrich’s latest looks at how speculators, flippers, and relentless group-think mentality have made modern art more about marketing than the work put in by a craftsperson. Artists like Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons are divisive figures in the art world, not merely because of their work, but because the marketing and high prices associated with their works often eclipses and calls into question the validity of what they’re doing.
Avrich gets exceptional access to those in the industry, including filmmaker/artist Julian Schnabel, former Hollywood honcho Michael Ovitz, and various high end collectors, to get a sense of when, if ever, the bubble will finally burst for this unusually hermetic cadre of big budget buyers. It’s a straightforward film in its approach, and there are a few endings too many, but Avrich illustrates quite astutely that all the money in the world doesn’t equate to intellect, taste, or value.