Art is long, and life is short

    Colin Beaven vor Großbritannien-Flagge
    Von Colin Beaven

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    Transcript: Art is long, and life is short

    Art galleries are useful places to go when the weather is wet and cold, and lots of them in Britain are free — not just the National Gallery and Tate Modern in London, but others, too, such as the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh and the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

    Would they be so popular if you had to pay to get in? Perhaps. It’s sometimes said that more people go to museums and galleries than to football matches. Whether that’s true is not clear, but it’s good to know that you don’t need money to see art, some of which is very nice. Modern art, on the other hand...

    Many of us to scratchkratzenscratch our heads when we look at work by contemporary British artists. It does have its fans, though. David Hockney’s painting of two men and a swimming pool became the most expensive painting by a living artist when it was sold in New York in November 2018 for $90 million.

    Wow! That’s a fortune! Britain has such enormous debtsSchuldendebts — more than a trillionBillion(en)trillion pounds — and if pictures are worth millions, they could really help our fi­nances. I’m not suggesting that we should sell off the whole of Tate Modern. I just wonder whether artists could be nationalized. That way, anything they produce would belong to the state. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (UK)britische Steuer- und Zoll­behördeHer Majesty’s Revenue and Customs is always asking us for money. If a tax demand (UK)Steuerbescheidtax demand came as a personal letter from David Hockney, we’d gladly pay twice as much just to have a signed piece of his work on the living-room wall.

    David Hockney has the same initials as ­another successful British artist, Damien Hirst, whose work is typically more bizarre than just paintings. He famously put a dead sharkHaishark in a tankAquariumtank and pickled it. Often the animals he pickles have been cut into pieces. So an exhibition of his work might look more like the display in a delicatessen than in an art gallery. Luckily, Leonardo decided to paint the Mona Lisa, whereas Mr Hirst might have turned her into sauerkraut. Still, nationalize him, and the government could sell artistic sharks to every office block in London.

    Many would say that there are already enough sharks in the City of London. Why put a shark on display in the foyer when there are plenty working in the offices upstairs? It’s just that selling art seems an easier way of getting hold of money than asking us for tax. It wouldn’t be fair to sharks, of course, so maybe one could use old people instead.

    senior citizenältere(r) Mitbürger(in)Senior citizens like me cost the government a huge amount of money. When the time comes — and it comes to us all — we could choose to become national art treasureSchatztreasures, sold to help repay the cost of our pensions and medical treatment.

    I was planning to leave my body to science, to give young doctors some practice. But I think that if I left it to art, I’d be worth a bit more. In addition, there’s the honour of being to pickle sth.etw. (sauer) einlegenpickled like a cucumberGurkecucumber and put on show in a London building. After all, there must be some lucky person who would like to be to immortalizeverewigenimmortalized like the gherkin (UK)Essiggurke; Name eines Büroturms in der City of Londongherkin in the Gherkin.

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