Elusive Art

by Tristan Moss

“Twenty pounds bid; thirty at the back…. Thirty has it at the back…. Any more?… Going once … going twice … sold to the gentleman at the back with the white beard.”

God sighed. He couldn’t believe his painting had gone for so little. He’d been sure he’d created a masterpiece. Disillusioned, he went to pay the small commission for having bought his own work, and took home what he now considered to be a failure.

Centuries later, God, cleaning out his attic, stumbled across the painting. For a moment, it brought back an awful sinking feeling. He still couldn’t help admiring his work. He dusted off the painting and rehung it on his bedroom wall. After a few days, he was convinced that last time he’d auctioned it, Man’s artistic tastes hadn’t been developed enough to fully appreciate it. Thinking things would be different now, he decided to enter it in another auction.

On the day of the sale, God found himself trembling and perspiring as his lot approached.

“Here we have an unattributed work, which has something of the universal about it. Who’ll start me with a hundred pounds?… Fifty, then…. No one at fifty? Okay, to start proceeding, five pounds?… Five pounds bid.”

God waited for another bid, but none came. “Ten pounds,” he shouted.

“Fifteen pounds in the middle of the room…. The middle of the room has it with fifteen pounds. Any more?”

God started to raise his hand when he heard the auctioneer say, “Twenty pounds from a new bidder.” He then heard thirty.

Thrilled and relieved, he listened as the price went up and up. He couldn’t let it be bought, though, as he feared someone would find out how he had created it. He couldn’t bear the idea of having to share his techniques. So, after the sale, he was more than happy to pay the high commission he’d incurred for buying it himself.

A few years later, God put his painting in the same auction, and it performed equally well. The third time he entered it, it brought less,though; and the fourth time it performed even worse; so he took it to another auction house. The new auctioneer praised his art greatly and told him that they would have no problem selling it. Again, it sold well at first, but then the price started to drop, as before. God employed a third auction house, which, again, praised his work highly,but as before failed to maintain the prices of their first few auctions.

He worried that his work had no real longevity, but rejected this thought by telling himself that Man was fickle and knew little of real art. God started to withdraw from the world.

Many centuries passed before he decided to give Man another chance. He sensed that his new auction house wasn’t that impressed by his work, even though they’d told him that it would generate huge interest as it had been so long since one of his pieces had been on the market.

The painting went for a reasonable sum, but not as much as God had expected. When he went to collect it and pay the commission, the auctioneer explained, “This kind of art still has its admirers, but they’ve seriously diminished.” He then gave God a rolled up canvas and a case of notes.

“What is the money for?” God asked.

“When your painting went on display, there was huge interest in the picture’s frame. So much so, that we decided to make it a separate lot. The money in the case is for the frame.”

Dismayed, God returned home with his self-portrait for the last time.

For broken links or other errors, contact Asher Black via his website.