Susan Tallman is a writer, art historian and curator. Her recent books include The Collections of Barbara Bloom and The American Dream: Pop to the Present (co-author), in addition to the numerous museum catalogues to which she has contributed. She is also the founding Editor-in-Chief of the bimonthly journal Art in Print. (January 2019)
The quandary at the heart of The Price of Everything, the art world documentary recently acquired by HBO, is summed up in a scene with the great German artist Gerhard Richter. Gesturing to one of his own paintings, Richter explains, “It’s not good when this is the value of a house. It’s not fair. I like it, but it’s not a house.” Viewers who anticipate a filmic celebration of capitalism as a force for cultural good, or alternatively, a condemnation of commodification, will be disappointed. The Price of Everything develops no particular argument, posits no solutions, uncovers no scandals. It isn’t a polemic, it’s a portrait, and in its mix of the grotesque and the earnest, a pragmatic and recognizable one.