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Extra resources for Art and the Market: Roger Fry on Commerce in Art, Selected Writings, Edited with an Interpretation
It claims to be god and it pays those who procure it the greatest illusions-priests, politicians and journalists-with power and veneration and it battles against every truth because it wants to prolong the hallucination" (Fry 1972, 483; see also 509). The democratic state, regrettably, simply pandered to the poor taste of the masses, and the result was reflected in grotesquely sentimental war memorials and overdecorated public buildings. In the middle class there were three groups whose attitudes toward opifacts affected the market for art.
An immense mass of art is consumed, but this is not the same art as that which the genuine artist produces" (Fry [I920b] 1956,70). His concern for the underproduction of genuine art rested on two grounds. The first and more complex ground was developed by Fry's two close friends and fellow art critics, Clive Bell and Kenneth Clark. It is that the real lasting achievements of a nation are its works of art-its literature, painting, music-not its conduct of warfare nor the output of utilitysatisfYing goods and services that are the customary focus of attention of economists and policy makers.
Ifleft to themselves, the mass of the people would never purchase true art but only, at the most, "pictures which arouse curiosity or gratifY sentimental longings" (Fry 19II, 8S6). This debased demand most Victorian painters had been glad to fill. The unintended consequences of the mass production of opifacts were several and all inimical to the progress of art. First, the very efficiency of machines removed all the opportunity for spontaneity that is part of any true art: "wherever the machine enters, the nervous tremor of the creator disappears" (Fry 1926b, 17).