In our highly fetishized cultures, we are all susceptible to trends, desires, and trivial projections. We are drawn to things that are easily consumable and undeniably beautiful. We just can’t help it! The junction of art and crass commercialism is ever more perplexing. With failed online art fairs and downloadable art for sale, art is in danger of falling deeper into the chasm of trivial luxury. On the other hand, Hokusai’s famous 19th Century print The Great Wave off Kanagawa was designed to be “throw away art”. The original woodcuts printed around 5000 copies, and the original print doesn’t even exist. Sold like posters through “publishers”, they were avidly collected and displayed in peoples’ homes. We treasure it because the climactic wave represents something inside all of us: courage and perseverance. It is an image of a century. How can we navigate the relationship between superficiality and authentic creative output, manipulated value and transparency, art as a hot commodity and art as life enhancers?
Art helps articulate our own intuitions and ties our own experiences together ever more clearly. On the walls of our homes as much as our Facebook walls, art communicates to ourselves and to others who we are and what we believe in. Here are some works by young artists around the world about our inescapable consumerist lifestyles — with acute sensibility, wit and humor — in turn they feed us doses of humility and remind us to stay strong and humble.