The Price of Everything

Once contemporary works of art are auctioned for seven-digit sums, they are in danger to degenerate into nothing but trophies for the super-rich. In view of such excess, any discourse about the true value of art must fade into the background.

In his intelligent and richly detailed documentary The Price of Everything, Nathaniel Kahn retraces the development from contemporary artwork to hyped investment object. The film benefits from Kahn’s unsuspicious insider position within the ultimately hermetic art world. As son of Louis Kahn - the legendary architect, whom he portrayed in his Oscar-nominated director’s debut My Architect - he has free access to top-class collectors, dealers, curators, auction houses and art historians. The proximity and mutual trust between filmmaker and protagonists provide us with an almost private insight. The politics, the gold rush, and the hunting fever, as well as the arbitrariness of valuations subtly unmask themselves without any need of poster-like exposure.

By including a young shooting star, Nigeria-born artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby, as well as the rebellious “old master” Larry Poon, Kahn’s film identifies two concise positions of two different artist, who, each in their own way, have to face the realities of the art market.

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Nathaniel Kahn

Nathaniel Kahn is an award-winning filmmaker. His documentary My Architect, about his father, Louis I. Kahn, was nominated for an Academy Award in 2003 as well as being nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards and an Emmy. Kahn also won the 2004 Directors Guild of America award for outstanding direction of a documentary. His short films include the Oscar and Emmy-nominated Two Hands (2006), about the internationally celebrated pianist Leon Fleisher. Kahn has also made several films on science including Telescope (2015) and Dark Side of the Sun (2016) for Discovery. He is currently working on a feature-length documentary on the Webb Space Telescope as well as on a new screenplay, which he will direct.