A difference exists in the field between 'the discourse' and the 'ready-made' (for mass consumption). But is decorative art and architecture less valuable then a highly conceptual contemporary work?
Although having a knowledge of the discourse and a solid architecture history education puts me in a position of 'elite', I am starting to see more beauty and value in 'decoration'. Sure we can't all sit in Eames Chairs next to our original Andy Warhol (these two examples not selected coincidentally).
The difficulty with elitism in the dialogue is that it is inaccessible to the vast majority of society. This is where the value of decoration comes in. Sure Tim & Sally don't know de Kooning or Le Corbusier (They might barely be able to remember the name Picasso or FL Wright for that matter).
The value in decoration is that it is expressive, it is transformative, it is accessible, and it is in some form art.
Certainly our society has become wrapped up into a tornado about 'authenticity', and certainly this is a polemic problem that remains in the discourse. We are hyper concerned about 'faux' and reproductions because they feel false and we assume that this devalues original quality work.
Now I'm not saying that I too don't sometimes feel a small bit nauseous around that IKEA Audrey Hepburn reproduction.
However, if every piece of art that is purchased, collected, and displayed has a requirement of some superficial degree of 'original authenticity', then elitism has trickled down to have a dangerous affect on approachable art.
One of my favorite stories of art collecting is the 50x50 by the Vogels.
I think there is a space in the field where decoration can live nicely opposite the discourse.
Though I've primarily discussed anecdotes about the art discourse, I think that this debate translates directly into the architecture discourse where it is difficult to define the role and boundary of an architect, an interior designer (decorator), etc etc. in the architecture community we constantly bash periodicals 'for the masses' such as Architecture Digest. And while I personally don't find much value from this area of the spectrum, it isn't to say that it doesn't have any value.
Take for example our contemporary ticky-tacky suburban developments chalk full of McMansions. Although many an architect would sneer and roll their eyes at everything that seems anti-Ruskinian about contemporary suburban development (do people even know what a Villa or a Chateaux is?)
The Trickle Down...
Does this cheapen or decrease the originality value of things? No! I would argue that in the contemporary world, we understand that value difference between an original, a reproduction, a fake, and any sequence or variation. Those who have a level of education or discernment to know always will. Chateaus in the French Countryside are still ridiculously expensive even though that stucco McMansion down the street is being marketed by the realtor as a Chateaux.
Let the copies copy.