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We’ve often written about how Qatar is on a campaign to become the world’s most powerful collector of modern art.The tiny Arab nation recently spent more than $250 million to acquire the most expensive painting of all time, and it has sponsored shows of high profile artists from Jeff Koons to Takashi Murakami.
It has built museums and even hired the chairman of Christie’s to work for its Museums Authority, spending hundreds of millions of dollars along the way.
But one key thing has been overlooked: the people of Qatar themselves, who have been dismissed or suppressed by those leading the art charge, according to the New York Times‘ Rooksana Hossenally.
Critics of the Qatar royal family say it is behaving as a facilitator of the international art scene while at the same time using it for self-promotion. And rather than letting the art scene in Qatar grow naturally according to the needs of its people to express themselves, these observers say, the country is handpicking artists who are politically neutral.
In such an atmosphere, most local artists do not stand much of a chance.
Freedom of expression is not a given in Qatar, and local artists are often fearful of speaking out and facing punishment from the royals, one artist told Hossenally.
Moreover, local Qatari press are rarely invited to cover high-profile events, and the locals don’t even necessarily understand the art being displayed on their soil. One local told Hossenally: “We find it ugly. We don’t understand why so many people come to see this work.”
Now find out how Qatar quietly became the world’s biggest modern art collector >
This story was originally published by Bankrate.
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