Daniel Maidman reflects on art and markets for art:

I’ve been thinking this over for a while. There are a few consequences to the concept of art as a currency. One of them is the theory of monetary commodities, which are objects that are useful as currencies. There’s a set of properties that you need. It has to have a limited supply, but the supply has to expand slowly, which means you need living artists. It has to be interchangeable, which means that each piece has to be more or less similar to each other piece. It has to have no aesthetic value, because to have aesthetic value confuses the source of value of the object. The object has to be valuable because the market has a consensus that it’s valuable and not because it’s valuable in and of itself. It has to be chemically stable. It has to be transportable. All those things define Koons and Hirst. Koons was a finance guy, right? …

I don’t think he ever left finance. I think he just found a more fun way to do it. And it also resolve the weird collusion between the different high-end entities in the art world. The cool-world art schools are, as far as I can tell, mints. A mint validates the currency. And if you go to one of these schools, then you have been validated relative to a certain target market. The market actively conspires to maintain the value of certain objects…

This explains, to some extent, why so much public art at present tends to look not only materially cheap and also trendy or surprising rather than timeless.