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Government art

Here is a teaser from the first chapter of Good & Plenty, Tyler Cowen’s new book about public art and the liberal tradition, out next week:

I write with one foot in the art lover camp and with another foot in the libertarian economist camp. I try to make each position intelligible, and perhaps even sympathetic (if not convincing) to the other side. I try to show how the other side might believe what it does, and how close the two views might be brought together. Furthermore, I use the fact of persistent disagreement as a kind of datum, as a clue for discovering what the issues are really about.

Q: What does the inside of Tyler Cowen’s head look like? A: A sack o’ cats heading for the river, i.e., all fur, teeth and claws, yet somehow… endearingly cute. At any rate, the internal wrestling match should make for a most excellent read.

5 comments to Government art

  • Jacob

    I haven’t read the book, but from the reviews it seems that the subject is: how is government funding influencing art ? Does it produce “good and plenty” art ?

    Government should not be involved in funding art.
    I don’t care if government financing produces good and plenty art or little and lousy art. If the conclusion of the book is: “in order to produce good art government must do A, B, and C” – I oppose that conclusion.

    Government should not be involved in art in any way. It’s just one of the many things it should not do. I don’t care how this disengagement is going to influence art. I guess art will survive somehow !
    (I love art as much as anybody !).

  • Mike Lorrey

    Not sure how it is over there. I was surprised a decade ago when I dabbled in the Seattle art scene to find most artists disliked government art money and wouldn’t take it, said that it was for artists who didn’t have anything to say that resonated with the people and couldn’t find a market as a result. The minority artists had even worse things to day about minorities that accepted government art money they called them “house n______s”.

  • toolkien

    1) Man will be creative regardless of the State. People didn’t paint on cave walls with a grant from Mother Government.

    2) Monies spent in this fashion is justified because of the oblique Good it does (supposedly) for the masses at large, and therefore each n’th individual who makes it up. But what about the Bad? How about the n’th guy who has his n’th job taxed away, and who kills his family and himself in his dispondency, all to fund this. If people get to warm their hearts over the non-specific, at large Good done by such transfers, then I get to imagine the specific Bad that could be done by such transfers, all to fund the likes of the Blue Shirt fiasco.

    Real money went into this “art”, and sure it created some jobs for the assemblers, it whole cost and value is debatable, and it can be assured that the money that the county sunk into the damn thing would have been put to good, individually chosen, use.

  • Simon Jester

    “A Government-supported artist is an incompetent whore.” – Robert A. Heinlein

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I have read Cowen’s books on commerce and culture and if that is a guide, this book will be excellent. Cowen is a fairminded and thoughtful advocate of markets and the benefits to business. What I like is that he downplays the evangelism and lets the facts do the talking.