The cost of those seeds

April 11 2012

Image of The cost of those seeds

Picture: Graham Turner/Guardian

A while ago, the Tate announced it had bought some 8m seeds from Ai Wei Wei, but curiously did not say for how much. Now, a reader writes:

I wondered if you have seen that the price paid by Tate Modern for the Ai Weiwei seeds is now disclosed on the Art Fund website?  It is 376,000GBP of which 100,000GBP was given by the Art Fund. 

Incidentally, are other people “bothered” ( I’ll put it no more strongly than that!) by the number of contemporary pieces being funded, at least partly, through Art Fund Grants?  If you search “2011” on their site, as above it brings up some 160 grants given, no less than 66 ( 41.25%) of which were for contemporary objects ( prints, paintings, craft pieces, photos, video etc ). I have taken contemporary as created from 2000 onwards. I have not calculated the percentage in money terms which these grants represent.

It seems that the Art Fund is becoming the Contemporary Art Fund……

That's an interesting statistic. Are you bothered/relaxed about the funding of contemporary art? Let me know. Incidentally, on an analysis of price per seed, the previous auction price of Wei Wei's seeds suggests the Tate has got a bargain.

Update - a reader writes:

Yes, I wholeheartedly agree about the amount of money the Art Fund is wasting on contemporary art. I don't think this is what the Art Fund is for, or probably what most members expect their money to be spent on. In the latest Art Quarterly magazine there are two 'video installations' which were each given a grant of over £40,000. In a few years time the galleries will probably not have the technology to make them work anyway. Other things that I find baffling are limited edition prints and photographs, which are not, in my opinion, original works of art anyway but seem to command vast sums of money. Of course the Art Fund would argue that contemporary art attracts huge crowds and if they don't buy it now it will be unaffordable in a few years' time. I would say, wait and see what stands the test of time and then decide if it is worth the money. I have been thinking that there should be a completely separate 'Contemporary Art Fund' and leave the rest for the Old masters!

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