Ms. Mueller, we actually know Udo Lindenberg, Otto Waalkes and Helge Schneider as musicians and comedians. But for a few years now, they've been turning to paint, paper, and canvas. Her works are sought after and sometimes very expensive. How is that to be classified on the art market? In my opinion, stars have no influence on the art market, they don't really belong to it. This is more of a special area for fans. We use the term art in a very inflationary way, but professionals know that a work of art must have substance in order to really be called art. Just because a prominent person has painted something doesn't make it art.
Others in the scene think that Lindenberg revolutionized the art market when he became the first celebrity to start painting 30 years ago. Lindenberg was certainly a role model for many other stars who turn their hobby into money. This is not meant to be disrespectful, but unfortunately their works cannot be described as art and many people cannot tell the difference.
How do I recognize a real work of art? The most important criterion is independence. I have to find a statement in it that appeals to a lot of people and that the artist has worked out completely independently – both technically and aesthetically as well as intellectually. A good work of art is therefore not something that comes out of the blue, but requires years of practice and thousands of hours of work. The works of the stars do not stand up to such professional standards.
How exactly do you mean that? You can see qualitative differences. Lindenberg is very good at everything that stays within his range of caricatures. That's really funny. However, as soon as he starts painting, he lacks the tools of the trade. It makes a difference whether someone uses proportions and material in an innovative way – or not mastered. There are few exceptions who have versatile artistic skills. Loriot is famous for his films as well as for the cartoons. But he also studied at the art academy and really learned the craft. Otto Waalkes, for example, also studied art education and received training in the field, which sets him apart.
To what extent do celebrities even have a name in the art world? The art world hardly appreciates these works because you can't apply professional criteria. It is noticeable that in the case of celebrities, many of the subjects are replicas or self-portraits. Of course, this is doubly interesting for fans: They have a picture that their star has painted and he is still on it. But the celebrities are not on the same level as real artists.
Otto prefers to paint his Ottifanten, Lindenberg clink glasses with eggnog in many pictures. Aren't these typical motifs that testify to the independence of the works?These are certainly typical motifs that intelligently focus on the recognition value of the two protagonists. But by independence I mean that someone is able to bring in a new aspect, a new aesthetic style, a new perspective on the world, our culture and the present - i.e. to make a contribution that is also relevant to art history with an essential message about our humanity .
Nevertheless, the pictures fetch surprisingly high prices. Helge Schneider and Frank Zander are still at the bottom. But an original by Otto costs upwards of 20,000 euros, and originals by Lindenberg can currently fetch ten times the gallery price on the open market. There are basically two motivations why people buy art. On the one hand, there are collectors who follow quality criteria and who pay close attention to ensuring that the works are of sustainable value. On the other hand, there are private individuals who may have their own style or collection theme. With celebrities, however, neither applies, since it is not primarily about the art, but about the person.
How do such sums come about? Of course, there is a special emotional connection with celebrities: I get something original from a star or perhaps associate it with a specific memory. The better known someone is, the more they can charge. Basically, the price you set is arbitrary, but once someone is willing to pay it, you can go a little higher.
How sustainable do you think the current price level is? Not sustainable at all. The prices are only based on what fans are willing to pay at the moment. In ten years, the stars could be completely out and there is no solid support for the current prices in the art scene.
So you would advise against buying a Lindenberg as a long-term investment? Yes, definitely. People who are serious about collecting art now want to pass it on to the next generation. Works of art touch us emotionally and aesthetically in a profound way, but they are also an investment. Future generations will probably no longer be interested in today's stars and will not be able to relate to their art because it is so strongly linked to the person. A lot of people know Udo Lindenberg today, but I doubt that in 30 years anyone will be paying huge sums for a Lindenberg.
Others would already describe Udo Lindenberg or Otto Waalkes as "legends". In this respect, the two are perhaps an exception. Especially when someone doesn't paint much anymore or dies, the prices naturally go up because there aren't any more new originals.
Who buys the pictures of Lindenberg, Waalkes and Co.? That's nothing for the companies I advise, including hotels and banks. It's not about celebrating anyone or speculating, they're looking for sustainable quality. The buyers are therefore likely to be private individuals, but more fans than art connoisseurs. Of course, buyers need to have the money, but once they understand art, they can't actually buy celebrity work. The art scene is very name-driven and that's a problem when people have trouble assessing the quality of art. You either get advice or go by name.
To what extent does the value of the images also depend on the success of the celebrities with their actual work, such as the music or the film? Very much, because it is essential for the stars that they appear in other ways.
Isn't the value of a work of art always in the eye of the beholder?The art scene is a profession like any other. I can also do my bookkeeping, but I can't read taxes or balance sheets and find out something. Only a professional can do that, and it's the same with art and collectors who deal intensively with it.
This article first appeared on Capital.de.