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Beispielanalyse: Sachtext (Zeitungsartikel)

Hier finen Sie eine Beispielanalyse zu dem Zeitungsartikel Scream if you Want to Bid Higher, den der Künstler Patick Brill unter seinem Künstlernamen Bob and Roberta Smith für die britische Tageszeitung The Guardian geschrieben hat. Sie sollten diesen Artikel lesen, bevor Sie die Analyse lesen. Der Aufsatz bezieht sich allerdings auf eine gekürzte Fassung des Artikels, welche Sie im Unterricht von mir bekommen werden.

Tasks – Aufgabenstellung

1. Comprehension: On the basis of the article, describe the negative effects that extremely high prices have on the art world.

2. Analysis:Examine the way in which the author tries to convince the reader of his opinion regarding developments in the art market. Refer to both language and structure.

1. Comprehension: On the basis of the article, describe the negative effects that extremely high prices have on the art world.

The article "Scream if you want to Bid Higher: the High Cost of Art" was written by Bob and Roberta Smith and published in the quality newspaper "The Guardian" on May 8, 2012. It is about famous art works which are being sold for profit.

In the first paragraph, the author gives an example of a painting that has been sold for a lot of money by talking about the recent auction of Edvard Munch's "The Scream". He points out that not many public collections can afford a painting sold for millions of pounds, in this case 74 million. Museums and galleries cannot bid as highly as private collectors.

Subsequently, the author explains that the version of "The Scream" sold was one of four and especially precious because it has a poem by Munch written on the back. He claims that unique artworks like this one are everyone's cultural heritage, but if they are sold to private people, the public cannot access them anymore. Even if a public collection was able to afford such prices, the money would more sensibly be spent on education or on the purchase of younger artists' works.

Another side effect of high art prices is that museums and galleries are seen as places in which one can see items of high monetary value rather than places of creativity. Moreover, art is seen as a secure investment, which leads to the prices remaining this high.

Sometimes small galleries even sell off paintings to reduce a financial deficit. For example, one gallery recently sold a painting by the Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais to fund building work.

Finally, some artists create art as an investment, not for art's sake. This means that galleries cannot buy these works and will not have documented today's art in the future.

2. Analysis: In what way is the atmosphere created in the present extract connected with the ending of the chapter?

The article “Scream if you want to Bid Higher: the High Cost of Art” was written by Bob and Roberta Smith and published in the quality newspaper “The Guardian” on May 8, 2012. It is about famous art works which are being sold for profit.

The following analysis will show in what way Bob and Roberta Smith convinces his readers that today’s high art prices destroy creativity in art and steal humanity’s cultural heritage.


The author expresses his point of view clearly at the very beginning of the text: the high prices “destroy rather than celebrate creativity” (subheadline). The text starts with a joke to catch the readers’ attention: Bob and Roberta Smith makes them imagine what the figure painted in Munch’s “The Scream” would say if he (or she) could talk – they would scream “I am too expensive! I belong in a public collection” (l. 2).

Throughout the text, he prepares the readers for the solution given at the end of the text by presenting arguments against the high cost of art. These arguments are biased because they only point out the detrimental effects of the high art prices: culturally important artworks being lost in private people’s collections (cf. ll. 17–21), money that could be spent better on education (cf. ll. 22–30), art used as a commodity and as an investment (cf. ll. 31–43), and future collections not showing today’s art (cf. ll. 44–54). He ends with an appeal to his fellow artists, who seem to be the main target group of his article, not to make art so expensive and to “mak[e] things better”. He seems to think that it is in the power of today’s artists to change the current state of the art market, which is why he addresses them directly.

Addressing the Readers Directly

It is not just at the end of the text that Bob and Roberta Smith addresses the readers directly. He does so throughout the text by asking both direct and rhetorical questions which involve the readers in his thought process. For example, when he quotes the auctioneer at the Munch auction as saying “I love you” (l. 6), he asks the question “What is this love born of?” (l. 6) to make the readers stop and reflect before answering this love was “born of greed” (l. 7), thus deprecating the auctioneer.

The question “What’s the solution?” (l. 39) introduces the development of his solution, and this question is answered with the sentence “That’s trickier” (l. 39). The author asks the question to make the readers stop and think, only to admit straight afterwards that the solution cannot easily be found.

Additionally, he addresses the readers with the second person pronoun “you” throughout the text (e.g. headline, and ll. 2, 6, 7, 23) and the first person pronoun “we” (e.g. ll. 20, 39, 48) to make their appeal at the end more personal and to stress that they also want to change.


The author can make his article so personal because he is part of the art community, and he tells the readers that he is. (cf. l 3 “As an artist...”) – and he is clearly an expert in the field of art. For example, he emphasises the importance of Munch’s painting by quoting the entire poem written on its back (cf. ll. 12–16) and provides facts about Bolton council selling a painting by John Everett Millais to pay for an extension to their museum (cf. ll. 37f.).

Moreover, he often has an accessible style of writing featuring short sentences and clear statements (cf. ll. 31ff.) , which adds to the credibility and precision of his arguments.

Choice of Words

Sometimes, however, he uses very formal and almost literary formulations to make a point. For example, after quoting Munch’s poem to emphasise the cultural importance of this particular work, he refers to the painting as “a piece of this magnitude” (l. 17), a formulation which adds to its aura of importance. Immediately afterwards, he calls paintings like this “humanity’s inheritance” (l. 18), which makes them seem of vital importance to our species.

In contrast, he uses colloquial expressions to stress the ridiculous dynamics of the art world and private collectors. For example, he refers to the high prices with the colloquial adjective “crazy” (l. 29). Similar formulations are the exaggeration “trophy prices” (l. 8) referring to the same thing, and the adjective “super-rich” (l. 9) to deprecate millionaires’ buying priceless art works. He also points out how selfish private collectors are, accusing them of “squirrel[ling] away” priceless artworks in their “downstairs loo” (l. 21), which is not only colloquial but also funny and an exaggeration.


All in all one can say that Bob and Roberta Smith convinces the readers by means of a clear structure, direct address of the reader and a blend of formal and colloquial language of his opinion that it is up to today’s artists to change the art market, if humanity is not to lose priceless art works to super-rich collectors.

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