At first glance I was excited to see this giant scarlet orb adorning a small piece of the downtown Chicago landscape this past week. It was a whimsical addition to the generally gray and at times mundane concrete jungle. I walked around and studied the object from all angles, appreciating the forced alteration in perspective that it provided. Then a woman walked up and handed me a little flip book describing the background of the installation. The book was harmless enough, until I looked at the back cover..It read: “The RedBall Prooject is Sponsored by Target.”
That small statement seemed to really spoil the spirit of the whole experience for me. But should it? The odds of an artist being able to afford the installation and logistics involved with such a spectacle on their own were probably low, so good for them for getting Target to help foot the bill, right? Maybe having that corporate sponsorship even allows the artist to make a decent living from the proceeds, which is the goal for all but the most idealistic of us - the make a living doing what you love. Even with all of that being said, it still seemed to spoil the event.
Is art with the funds and resources of a corporate backing still as relevent as that which was born by a “starving artist”?