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The New Artist. A research project on the changing self-image self perception of artists in Switzerland

Johannes M. Hedinger (Zürcher Hochschule der Künste)

What is the artist’s role in today’s society?
What does success mean to artists?
Why are most artists poor?
How will artists work in 20 years?
And how do they perceive themselves today?

Initial situation: The survey and research project THE NEW ARTIST is all about the changes that today’s artists are faced with. We are asking these questions as the western concept of “the artist” is significantly changing in light of globalisation, hybridisation, transculturisation and digitalisation.
Why do people still choose to become artists, regardless of its hardships? Where does the inspiration come from and how does the modern creative worker survive? What conditions have changed and what are today and tomorrow’s artists’ opportunities, challenges and concerns?

With the booming art market and the art environment becoming more complex, the artist’s profession is subject to progressing economisation, professionalisation and academisation. One of the only aspects about artists’ lives that appears to have remained the same over the past decades is the continuing unstable and poor work and life situation of many artists. Those of whom are often considered role models of the neoliberal system, all working independently, participating in projects and providers without regular income.

How do today’s artists support their art financially, how do they network, how to they define “success” and what will they be left with one day? Some of today’s common artist types and models have to be questioned and some renewed to an extent.

Field of research: We address artists living in Switzerland (regardless of nationality), as well as all Swiss artists living and working abroad, are addressed. The term “visual artist” includes all those active within the artistic profession in the field of visual arts, who either create only partially visual and experienceable works of art and those who work more process-driven, conceptional or in socially. This also includes inter- and transdisciplinary fields of art that include various types of art and even extra-artistic fields.
This survey is NOT for artists whose main artistic focus, production and activity is in performance arts (theatre, dance, film), literature, music or applied arts (design, architecture, fashion applied arts).

Survey / Method: The survey consists of 15 demographic and 25 mostly closed content questions about education, production, inspiration, career, success, market, art scene, networks, financing, purpose and future. The survey was created in collaboration with artists and art and social sciences researchers. The survey will be conducted by the survey institute management tools.
The survey will be completed by approximately 500 artists living in the German, French-speaking part of Switzerland and will also be available in English. The duration of the survey is between 20 to 30 minutes and will take place online on a specially programmed panel.

Findings and results: The study results will be published in February 2017 in the form of tables and various graphics with various breaks on this website. Thereafter, the findings will be analysed and interpreted scientifically on an artistic and social level. Then, derived therefrom ten thesis’s about the changing of artists’ self perception will be formulated. The research project will be supported and followed by this website, which will inform about the project, is the platform where the survey will take place and where the results will be published.




Lived values. Jazz-/Popular musicians as mystified marketsubjects

Oleg Pronitschew (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel)

The modern market for popular music is shaped by sudden developments, which are formed by passed-on conventions and newest innovations alike. Cultural and music policies have struggled for many years to find ways to reduce risks and to improve stability on the market area. As part of this, educational structures and music initiatives have been build up. The new institutional framework is designed for a type of musician, understood as an art entrepreneur, who can engage in different parts of music production. In this manner, neo-liberal ideals of work, which are inspired by an ‘artist critique’ aimed on more self-fulfillment, take effects on the field of art, which once has articulated this critique. Therefore artistic values like creativity, aesthetics or dislimitation have to be increasingly legitimatized through economic  usability. This specific situation brings up the question, how the modern imagination of a creative and flexible market-subject is influencing the reality of jazz/popular musicians.

This presentation inspects subjectivation-varieties of Jazz/Rock-Pop-musicians in amateur- and semi-professional areas. The research focus is to describe a process, in which rules of a social field are being habitualized and transformed into agendas for actions. What values are dominant on this market area and how do actors propose their own values into it? How do musicians handle the public artist-image? The method of solution for this question is based on a comparison of institutional, individual and intersubjective contexts through a triangulated procedure. The discourse analysis of cultural-policy-documents referring to the music education system highlights main values, that are used to integrate artistical professions into value-added processes. The observation in ethnographies and auto-ethnographies relates these values to the intersubjective reality of the actors. Interviews with musicians give insights into the value-contexts from an actors-perspective. This way it can be shown, how societal imaginations shape the present of artist-existences and reproduce sociocultural discrepancies in the process. Also it underlines the different musician-images on labor- (amateur/semi-professional), genre- (Jazz/Rock-Pop) and public-areas (musicians/non-musicians).

This analytical approach points out how actors have to continuously adopt on the rules of their field and as so contribute to a autopoiesis of leading values like creativity, discipline or spectacle. To succeed on the music market, they have to participate in gift economies and capitalize non-musical abilities, therefore develop skills to handle the public image of musicians and simultaneously consider the rules of their art-field. Doing so they orientate on a stereotypical public artist-myth, which has just a marginal connection to their vivid reality, as well as on musical ideals of the jazz and rock/pop-art world. These value-contexts generate specific practices of distinction and determinations of symbolic capital, that highly rely on societal acknowledgement and accumulation of attention. In this constellation actors have to develop strategies, how to use a market as alienation or emancipation.




The market place – an incomplete mirror of art

Linda Dürkop-Henseling (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel)

On the issue of the relationship between Art and the marketplace the predominant thesis states that the market only represents a fraction of the created artwork. This fact is not only explicable by the general rules of the market, but also because of several lead concepts that artists follow in their profession. The thesis therefore exceeds the assumption that gallerists function as gatekeeper and that the market as a consequence has become the result of a selective process. However, the thesis should not be confused with the fact that amateur artists often do not or only to a small extent, place their art at the markets disposal.

As an exemplification of the presented thesis, ideal types of the leading concepts will be introduced throughout the presentation. The concepts represent the findings of the author’s dissertation project in which structured interviews with 24 visual artists in the area of Hamburg were conducted. The theoretical framework of the interview includes a system-theoretical as well as a power-oriented approach from the sociology of professions. The lead concepts of artistic actions can be linked on the one hand to a fundamental sense of action and on the other hand to the reference of the professionalized art system. Even though the underlying aim is to create artwork and to seek the exchange with colleagues and the audience, there is still a big difference with regards to the fundamental sense of action. Whereas some artists relate their artwork closely to their own person, others focus more on topics that concentrate on society as whole or philosophical questions. The success of the individual person is of secondary importance. So far the label artist and its myth are limited to the creative working process and the financial need to sell pieces of art. What is neglected with this kind of label is the individuality of artists as persons.

The research project revealed that the art system can be classified as being fully differentiated. The differentiation proceeds along profession-based attributes like the academic degree or the establishment of professional organizations. For artists and recipients, the general art system is easily accessible because the profession artist does not presume any professional qualifications in contrast to other occupations where certain requirements need to be met. Furthermore, the influence of the art market, art criticism and educational institutions are comparatively low. Nonetheless, in order to gain access to the professionalized art system (in terms of art as a profession) a number of requirements must be fulfilled which in return increases the likelihood of success.

Combining these assumptions with the motivation of artistry, results in the development of four types of artists which will be briefly introduced in the following. The first type is the pragmatic artist, whose primary focus lies on their work and its recognition by others, which ultimately leads to financial stability and/ or self-awareness. With this type it all revolves around having a gift and an inner creative urge to “use” it for various purposes. Their actions are independent of the professionalized art system which is partly due to the pragmatic artists’ critical attitude towards the system.

For the second type, the pragmatic-professional, the production of art work and the recognition of their person as an artist are the core elements. Their gift is mostly used to have success within the professionalized art system. Success, in this case, is measured by sales in art galleries. Consequently, the art market in all probability consists of works by artists who work according to the aforementioned concepts.

The same desire for success within the professionalized art system also applies to the third type, the critical-professional artist. Hereby, in contrast to the other types, criticism and the reflection of society are of primary importance and not one’s own person. The strong inner creative urge refers to the implementation of one’s own thoughts and questions. The sale of artistic work serves as means to an end.

Most of the aforementioned attributes like the criticism of society and the neglect of one’s own person and a strong inner creative urge also correspond to the critical artist, the fourth type. Still, there is one major difference which shows in the attitude towards the professionalized art system. The fourth type takes a rather critical stance on the art system, so that there is little motivation to sell pieces of art on the market.

If the market is considered to be closely related to the differentiated art system, it becomes obvious that not all artists work by the markets rules.

The two latter types are unified by a very critical position on the art term which does not automatically label pieces of work as art. If the aspect of alienation does not apply, the aspect of criticism does. For starters, one conclusion of the above-named thesis is that the discussion about the fine arts should go way beyond the market development. Angling from a different perspective this also means that the promotion of the creative industry should take the four different types of artists into account because otherwise, there is probable cause that support will only be given in the form of financial goals.




Literature between Cultural Legitimacy and Art Market: The Case of French Writer and Nobel Prize Laureate Patrick Modiano.

Clara Lévy (Université Paris-8)

On October 9th 2014, the Nobel Prize of literature was awarded to French writer Patrick Modiano for „the art of memory with which he mentioned the most elusive human destinies and unveiled the world of the Occupation.“ From this post after the official announcement of the Nobel Prize Committee and the reactions to it (congratulations and praise for Modiano and his work, as one would expect, but also expressions of astonishment or disbelief – both in France and abroad), we initiated an investigation into „the factory of a Nobel prize winner.“ Relying on this present survey, our presentation will analyze the position of P. Modiano both in the French and international literary fields and how its success, both critically and commercially, questions and partly challenges the theory framed by P. Bourdieu. Indeed, „Pierre Bourdieu distinguishes two sub-fields in art, opposing that of restricted and relatively autonomous production to that of the extended and heteronomous production submitted to a market and commercial logic“. We will first show, from the analysis of the position of P. Modiano in the field, and from the production and critical reception of his texts, that this writer had managed for years to reconcile his taking part to the field of restricted production (valuation by critics, peers, academics, being publihsed in prestigious collections, getting various literary prizes even before he was eventually awarded the most famous of them, the Nobel prize, etc.) with direct access to the wide diffusion field (strong draws and high numbers of sales for his works, almost always republished under paperback format; P. Modiano also experienced visibility outside of the strict literary field, for example in films and songs). Then we will analyze the impact of obtaining the Nobel Prize on figures in terms of prints and sales: Patrick Modiano, like all of the other Nobel Prize laureates, finally experienced a spectacular increase that can even be referred to as an explosion in both sales and draws, not only on the French book market but also on the markets of French literature abroad. Following the award of the Nobel prize, new prints multiplied first, and new translations of his works were launched in languages and in countries (in particular in the USA) where the presence of Patrick Modiano’s works had been limited until then. The present presentation is mostly based on an analysis of the presence of Patrick Modiano through the press  as a reflexion of his critical success and on data collected through various ways consisting in figures related in paricular to the sales oh his books.




The quest for recognition of French jazzmen at the service of the arts and markets?

Mathieu Feryn (Université d’Avignon et des Pays de Vaucluse)

If the world of jazz in France has often been studied by French sociology (Fabiani, 1986; Roueff, 2003; Perennoud, 2006; Pequeux, 2009), this object often remained confined to the question of the legitimacy of musical forms related to value scales and practices as an objective aim that remained the domain of music called „learned“. In deed, jazz music has long been for the proponents of critical sociology a strong heuristic power that allowed to observe the legitimacy games at work between two worlds: that of a part of the „learned‘ music that the jazz would seek to imitate in its internal organization (Roueff, 2003), another one of popular music, which would be the emanation and where artists naturally seek to distinguish themselves. Pierre Bourdieu considered jazz, as well as cinema and comics, like some „arts middle“ (Bourdieu 1965; Fabiani, 2010) in search of a social legitimacy.

Sign of a now bygone era on the ethnography plan, even the pioneering work of H.S. Becker did not escape the tropism of analyzing jazz musicians with the theoretical and methodological equipment from the sociology of deviance. However, in the 70s and 80s, new looks were worn on jazz. It must first be emphasized the importance of work who approached the musical culture and certain specialized aesthetic in terms of market (Moulin, 1986), or „world (s)“ (Becker, 1992) where actors and mediators interacting with other motivations as the legitimacy and domination. The study of jazz music has also been approaches that fall within the sociology of work (Menger, 1986), a social anthropology lying in the passeronien inheritance (Fabiani, 1986) or that of gender studies (Buscatto, 2007). Our research consists to study the dynamics of change within the jazz market in France since the early 2000s starting with the awards in the jazz world in particular seeking to inspire communication sciences.

Thus, internationally, „the price is the result of an effort and success“ (Frey, 2005) while in France, our study shows that prices devote more the intermediaries of the creation.  To analyze this paradox, one may be tempted to mobilize work on the emergence of musical labels and taxonomies. Our approach extends this Conventions economy approach by asking the question of collective representations about creating jazz in France. Indeed, this niche market reveals many paradoxes where insiders / experts reflect a diversity of aims and expectations of action logics. To do this, the most  of these actors part is visible at the awards and professional awards each year at various ceremonies with a role of market regulation (Victoires du Jazz, Academy Award Charles Cros, Defense Springboard, etc.). In the continuation of our work on the issue of work allocation properties as belonging to the authenticity of jazz, the issue of relations (installation, belonging to multiple genres, etc.) with other aesthetics (including « world music ») and question the evolution of form. Through a survey on the reception, distribution, production in the 2000s, recognition can be analysed as a process involving different halfway circles between the arts and markets  : the peers, media and critics, market actors, publics.




Social Criticism in Culture Industry

Robert Schäfer (Universität Fribourg)

In popular culture, arts and markets are most closely intertwined. But the fact that its products are frankly declared as commodities does, however, not exclude the possibility of emancipatory subversion and social criticism. The question of the presentation is: What are the performative conditions for popular culture to be perceived as critical? The empirical basis to tackle this question is a case study of a video clip (Beyoncé 2016, “Formation”), which leads to the issues of credibility, representation and justification. It is my hypothesis that credibility is produced by explicitly referring to its opposite and by a complex entanglement of identity and difference.




New Connoisseurship facing the Art Market: The Reception of Pieter Brueg(h)el’s Paintings by the International Auction Market

Anne-Sophie Radermecker (Université libre de Bruxelles)

In the 19th century, the development of connoisseurship has notably contributed to the edification of the artist as an individual genius and to the construction of authorship as a guarantee of authenticity. However, this romantic conception of the creative act is no longer accepted as such by the community of Old Masters specialists since significant research following the Rembrandt Research Project (1968) has brought new fundamental knowledges about the inner workings of studio and copying practice. This so-called new connoisseurship tends to challenge our modern obsession for the artist’s name and our track for autography, two factors usually decisive in the purchasing behaviour.

This paper deals with the complex relationship of alienation and emancipation emerging from the auction market. The reception of Old Master pictures by the contemporary market for classified art (Moulin) is particularly relevant to figure out the importance given today to artistic authenticity – as the certainty attached to the author. To do so, I shall concentrate on a specific case study: the Brueghel enterprise (Van den Brinck; Currrie&Allart). Pieter Brueghel the Younger and his large workshop produced a considerable amount of copies after the prototypes painted by his famous father in order to meet the increasing demand for that kind of pictures. This new studio labour division – emblematic of a new system of standardization, commodification and economization of the creative act in the late 16th and early 17th centuries – still has consequences today since paintings of variable quality and all related to the Brueghel’s family by different levels of attribution are still circulating on the market[1]. In a different socio-economic context and in the light of recent scholarly research, the reception of this artistic output raises several issues: do actual purchasing behaviours reveal an emancipation from the cult of authenticity? Does the art market contribute to reinforce this historical construction or tend to overcome it by valuing pieces of art long considered to be secondary in terms of attribution? Should the art market operators conform to academic progress from an economic point of view?

My case study is based on a quantitative and comparative analysis of a sample containing more than 1,000 lots offered in sales by several international auction houses from the mid-20th century up until 2015 (Art Sales Index). It relies on two starting assumptions:  the reception as an active process allowing consumers to control the materials they consume (Charpentier) and the willingness to pay for a work of art as a signal of its intrinsic value (Grampp; Frey). In this regard the attribution scale used by art historians will remain a key point of my discussion in order to examine its weight on the art market. After establishing the general trends for brueghelian pictures, I intend to question the positioning from both auction houses and collectors to this specific production and point out the ambiguous role played by these actors towards the paradigm of authorship. Whereas scholars are more and more inclined to de-emphasize the importance of the Master’s own hand implication we shall see that the market for Old Master Paintings continue to fuel the need for autographic pictures. By sacralising the artist’s name salerooms maintain the public in a system of thoughts no longer supported by scholars and contribute to reinforce the information asymmetry.




Art and market in early modern Japan. From the perspective of social differentiation and individualisation theories

Takemitsu Morikawa (Universität Luzern)

Georg Simmel refers to the ambivalent character of money – and the market – in his book, The Philosophy of Money. On the one hand, money promotes differentiation and refinement of subjective desires and, on the other hand, objectification (Versachlichung) of social relationships. The gap between subjective and objective culture is increased and magnified by the money economy. Regarding the differentiation of the system of arts, especially of the subsystem of literature (i.e. fictional writings), Niklas Luhmann, in Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft (1997: 297–298), argues that the creation of book markets promotes individualisation:

Quite clearly, printing promotes the tendency towards individualisation in participation in social communication twofold. If something is well-known and someone, however, does not know this, the lack of knowledge is attributed to him as an individual. He has not read enough. He is uncultured, and he lacks knowledge. In addition, this stimulates people to develop divergent opinions or new interpretations in order to distinguish themselves from others as individuals (translated by TM).

In my presentation, I will apply Simmel and Luhmann’s theories to the art history of early modern Japan. At that time, industrialisation had not yet occurred, but urbanisation and the monetary economy were expanding greatly, so authors and artists had to re-orient their work to the market, namely, the tastes of an anonymous audience that blurred the differences between social status groups.

A book market has been established in Japan since the mid-seventeenth century. Over time, the supply of fictional writing became more differentiated, and authors had to respond to their audience’s changing tastes. A great number of literature genres, thus, emerged up to the first half of the nineteenth century.

The same situation can be observed in the interaction between art and the market in Japan’s art history. The now world-famous wood prints (ukiyo-e) emerged with the commercialisation of art. The greater subtlety and individualisation of art can be seen as proof of the differentiation and refinement of subjective desires when the history of ukiyo-e is traced from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. Artists had to express their uniqueness and individuality to survive in the market. For example, the world-famous Katsushika Hokusai had to draw pornography to sustain his household. Today, his pornographic work is recognised as art.




Cultural workers, inequality and the labour market: emancipation and alienation across the generations

Dave O’Brien (Goldsmiths College, University of London), Mark Taylor (University of Sheffield), Sam Friedman (London School of Economics)

This paper considers cultural and creative workers’ experience of the market for their labour. The paper seeks to understand the relationship between attitudes towards the functioning of occupational allocations, i.e. how people get and keep jobs in cultural and creative industries, and the lived experiences of the labour market. Our previous research (Friedman et al 2016, O’Brien et al 2016) has suggested the market for cultural labourers is significantly socially stratified along lines of class, gender and race, which is in tension with individuals’ narratives of talent and hard work to explain their own experiences of in- and exclusion within the cultural and creative industries labour force. This paper extends this work by reporting results from a new survey of attitudes and a new archive of interviews with cultural and creative workers.

The paper addresses several core questions, including: How do people working in the creative and cultural industries feel about fairness in the labour market? Do they think that success in the labour market is purely down to hard work, talent, and ambition, or is it about who you know and what kind of family you come from? How are these attitudes stratified? How are these attitudes reinforced or contradicted by individuals’ narratives of their experiences within cultural labour markets? And finally how is the alienation and emancipation offered by creative work (Hesmondhalgh and Baker 2010) related to the structures of the labour market and individuals’ experiences?

The paper has a mixed methods approach. Using the 2014 Panic! survey of around 2500 people working in cultural and creative jobs in the UK, this paper shows a wide range of attitudes to whether people believe that the processes involved are meritocratic, reflect social reproduction, or both. The most striking finding is that the highest-paid respondents to the survey are the most likely to believe the processes that got them where they are to be meritocratic. Differences also emerge along other social divisions, with the more privileged respondents – on whatever metric – generally appearing more positive than their less privileged counterparts.

Second the paper draws on 200 interviews to understand how people experience the labour market, how they embody both the attitudes towards, and the structures of, markets for cultural and creative labour.

Initial results from this research include no clear generational differences in the surveyed attitudes to, but clear stratifications in experiences of, the labour market. This core finding suggests that while attitudes towards meritocracy and social reproduction may be consistent amongst differing cohorts of cultural labourers, the labour market confronting them is very different.




The perception of the museum object during deaccession

Éva Szereda (Université de Neuchâtel)

Does the museum increase the artwork’s value by deaccessioning it, and doing so, enter in the art market? To answer this question, I choose to study a specific museum: the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, also known as the MET. The museum began to practice deaccessioning in 1885. In response to New York Times criticism in 1973 about this practice, the MET wrote Procedure for Deaccessioning and Disposal of Works of Art. In 2005, the Museum’s Board of Trustee, then headed by Philippe de Montebello, reviewed and validated the text.

The study of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s deaccessioning policy, taking as an example two massive auction, allows us to understand the different use values of the artwork by four actors: the donor, professional, buyer and finally the visitor. How do their perception operate simultaneously on the museum object during the deaccession process? Is the artwork desacralized then commodified? The answer is no, museum professionals has always seen the work as a commodity. The object is still part of a museum economy through its exhibition.

However, the words “lack of value for exhibition” appeared in the American Association of Museum Director Policy on Deaccessioning written in 2010. Besides, the cash operated from deaccession has to be used to purchase new work of art. The aim is to scientifically develop the museum’s collection, not financially support the museum. The deaccession of a museum object leads to the creation of a new one. Thus, an artwork is sold by a museum for exhibition purposes. So, we can consider that exhibitions strengthen ties between museums and market economy, and not the practice of deaccessioning itself.




Cultural field and practice sense of art dealer. A research on art intermediaries in Milan

Anna Uboldi (Université de Milano Bicocca)

I want to discuss some reflections on the basis of a qualitative research about the occupational community of art gallery owners. The research is realized in art galleries of Milan by means of in-depth interviews mainly to art dealers, but also to artists, collectors and critics. In addition, I have done participant observations inside the spaces of art galleries and, in particular, during vernissages and openings, and also in art fairs (Milan, Bologna and Verona).

The art dealer is considered as a particular cultural gatekeeper, according to a Bourdieusian perspective but open to some interactionist suggestions à la Hughes (2010). I explore the characteristic logics of practices of this occupational community in art field.

This research permit to explore how the moral identity of art gallery owner and the meaning given to categories of art dealer and merchant of art, is a result, constantly renegotiated, of social practices. These social practices give shape to the same identity representations. In this way, I have elaborated a typology of art dealers (the almost folk art dealer, the historical, the radical, the integrated and the aspirant art dealer) to examine how the semantic imprecision of the category of art gallery owner «is part of the same reality that has to be interpreted», according to Bourdieu (Bourdieu, 2005, 298). I can see some fights of classifications and hierarchies inside the field. These competitions recall the constitutive ambivalence of artistic field. The market and artistic values coexist in a conflicting and controversial but also pacified way, since collectively removed and shared. In this coexistence I can identify the principle of the moral order that it is behind this field of artistic production. In sum, I have studied the symbolic boundaries and the characteristics of this occupational field of the economy of symbolic goods (Bourdieu, 1996).




Mapping Professional Self-concepts of Gallery Owners

Michael Gautier (Universität Bern)

Gallery owners occupy a crucial position in the art world. The discovery and consecration of new artistic positions without the involvement of commercial galleries are hardly conceivable, as they very often initiate the processes of reception and commodification of art, thus acting as gatekeepers. The role of the art dealer advocating contemporary art (the “marchand-entrepreneur”) is defined by a working alliance with a limited number of artists that he/she engages for an indefinite period and whose works are displayed for selling in a location open to the general public.

Three major challenges determine the professional practice of such a gallery owner: (1) the enduring commitment to innovation; (2) highly uncertain symbolic and economic profits; (3) the simultaneousness of value- and goal-rational logics of social practices, i.e. a) the disinterested aesthetic receptiveness (passion) that certifies his/her credibility as a mediator and b) the interestedness necessary for distributing and placing art and for a viable business.

Despite the importance of the phenomenon of galleries, little is known about the dispositions and interpretative patterns that structure their owners’ professional practice and enable them to commit to their delicate task (interacting with artists, collectors and curators, creating a discourse around their program, facing an economic downturn, etc.).

A systematic reconstruction of such professionally relevant concepts was conducted by means of contrasting case studies. My explorative research is based on the qualitative analysis of transcribed interview records and of the biographical data of European und American dealers. The sample covers as wide a range as possible of age, gender, generation, origins, trajectory, gallery size and program. This contribution aims at outlining a typology of dispositions and interpretative patterns of gallery owners active in the global art market: (1) the operator (strategic, rational organiser, delegating working alliances); (2) the partner (elective affinities, more intimate relationship with the artist); (3) the curator (intellectual affinities, co-author, educating the public); (4) the adviser (conversation, artist as a client).




Market and development of Middle-East Visual Art, Focusing on Dubai’s art galleries (1985-2015)

Zahra Jahan-Bakhsh (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3)

Over the last few years, the global art market has witnessed a significant increase of the modern and contemporary artists from the Middle East. The recent development and growth in the international visibility of the Middle Eastern artists seem to be related to a broader concept and in particular, to the presence of certain international art auction houses in Dubai that have been active and influential in the region since 2006. This infrastructure has played a crucial role to bring together different actors within the art scene in Dubai and consequently, to turn this city into the leading distributors of Middle East modern and contemporary art both at the regional as well as the international level. This core includes the key elements of the art world, namely galleries. Art galleries form a multi-functional area in the art world as they not only play the main role in the market field, but also have strong legitimacy in the art field. This contribution attempts to thoroughly analyze the progress of the visual art in Middle East affected by the emerging actors of the international art market in the region. The focus of the study is on the evolution of visual art galleries in Dubai.

This research is based on the historical study of the art. First, we define various criteria necessary to identify visual art galleries. Then, we carry out our investigation by going through the procedures of opening and developments of the first art galleries in Dubai since 1989 and until 2015. The number of galleries and activities in the region is analyzed to evaluate the impact of auction houses. Next, the span of galleries’ performances was evaluated through studying the galleries’ owner, artistes and their local and international activities. Studying the regional art market history, shows that 2006 is the starting point for the Middle East visual art scene development. Dubai’s visual art galleries are distinguished from rest of the galleries. Our study shows while the number of galleries has been raised slowly until 2006, a rapid increase in the number of galleries has happened after 2006. From our analysis, it is clear that the growth in the number of galleries is correlated with the art auction houses in Dubai since 2006 and therefore, Dubai plays a dominant role in the regional art world.

The outcomes of this research reveal a clear historical perspective of Middle Eastern art market. These outcomes are extremely helpful to better understand the role of Dubai in introducing the Middle Eastern art to the local, regional and international art scene. The analysis of the evolution and growth of visual art galleries and their activates in the past twenty-six years (1989-2015) confirm the important role of Auction Houses on the regional visual art development in the Middle East.




The “Non-commercial” Art? Installation and Video Art and the Market in China

Linzhi Zhang (University of Cambridge)

A commercial organisation should aim at maximising its profits instead of investing money and time in less profitable activities. However, I observed an interesting contradiction in the contemporary Chinese art market. On the one hand, installation and video art are the most frequently exhibited art forms in commercial galleries. On the other hand, all dealers lament how difficult it is to sell installations and videos in comparison to paintings. Hence why would commercial galleries favour art forms that are less profitable? The behaviour of these galleries is definitely anomalous from an economic perspective.

The art market is a market of symbolic goods. Here prevails a disavowal of economic profits (Bourdieu, 1980). The accumulation of symbolic capital is superior to that of economic capital. It follows that the galleries‘ behaviour only makes sense when exhibiting installation/video art enhances their symbolic capital. That also means, paintings are endowed with less symbolic power. The question remains: Why would installation/video art have higher symbolic capital than painting as an art form?

In China, oil painting is not a traditional art form. By contract, since the only legitimate oil painting genre was social realism in the Mao period, when young artists used surrealist and abstract paintings for the first time in China in 1979, these paintings, together with installation and video art, were considered avant-garde. In the 1990s, the two painting styles, cynical realism and political pop, made oil painting the most important art form and the icon of Chinese avant-garde art. Hence, how did oil painting lose its higher position in the hierarchy of symbolic capital?

Drawing on interviews with 30 artists and 6 dealers, this paper reveals that the formation of a distinctive market for contemporary art in China contributed to the elevation of installation and video art. Particularly the market collapse caused by financial crisis in 2008 had a direct impact on the rise of installation and video art. Paintings were hit most hardly in the crisis. The Chinese art community, who were just about to enjoy the great profit, felt the destructive power of the market for the first time. After all, a market for contemporary art barely existed a decade before the crisis. The art community realised the importance to maintain its autonomy. As a result, installation and video art, less affected by speculations in the boom, were adopted as the symbol of artistic autonomy since 2009. Installation and video art derives symbolic capital largely from its distance from the market.

However, calling installation and video art “non-commercial” (quoting my informants) is questionable. First, it is more accurate to talk about less marketable artists than less marketable art forms. Although these “non-commercial” art is by material characteristics less collectable, there are installation artists who sell more of their works than painters do. Second, these art forms still rely on the market for survival. In China, an artist must either rely on the state or the market. There are no art foundations to support the careers of artists. The market for less marketable art still exits, it is just way smaller. Only the top galleries have access to collectors that would accept less collectable art. For artists who would like to continue their careers in installation art, their only choice is to reach the higher section of the market.




On the Economy of Symbolic Goods. Ethnographical Explorations at the Art Basel

Franz Schultheis, Thomas Mazzurana (Universität St. Gallen)

Art fairs play today a central role in the art market, particularly in the trade of contemporary art. In the wake of the art fair boom since the turn of the millennium, they have grown to become one of the most important sales and marketing channels for art dealers. Through this distribution channel the gallery owners are able to gain access to new markets and reach new collectors. In 2012 for example, 36 per cent of sales by dealers were made through local or international fairs.

Our research field is the Art Basel, which, as the “Art Olympics” (New York Times), represents the wealthiest sector of the art world in terms of symbolic and economic capital, and is generally considered as the most important art fair. The Art Basel represents a temporal and spatial concentration of the global art market; for a period of a week the field of art is located in the halls of the Basel Exhibition Centre. It is therefore an ideal field of investigation to examine the structures and dynamics at the top of the global art field.

In reference to the sociological work and perspective of Pierre Bourdieu, the world of art is conceived as a field of competition for the monopoly of the legitimate definition of art. As a market of symbolic goods, the field of art is today more than ever confronted with immanent contradictions and paradoxes: since the 1990s new capital-intensive buyers have emerged, recruiting mainly from the world of financial capital; considerable financial resources flow directly from emergent economies in Eastern Europe and, above all, Asia into the market; prices are exploding and power relations between the different groups of actors in the art field are changing rapidly.

The focus of interest of the ca. 80 qualitative interviews we made with market actors like art dealers or collectors is on their attitudes and practices in this newly reconfigured art field. In particular the question arises how the relationship between art and commerce, charisma and money, which is increasingly critical and contradictory through current changes in the art field, is addressed, problematized, scandalized, banalized or simply suppressed by the art market participants.




How to manage the square metres of space at Art Stage Singapore?

Karin Wisse-Van den Boom (LASALLE College of the Arts Singapore) (

„Our role as the leading art fair in Southeast Asia is not about dealing with square metres of space on the fairground. More importantly, it is very much about raising the awareness for contemporary art and its role in our societies.” Lorenzo Rudolf, Founder and President, Art Stage, Singapore (PR Newswire 2016)

The first impression of visiting an art fair could feel like window shopping, but is it really all about the massive commercial spectacle? An art fair has many roles to play; it is mainly a commercial platform for galleries and artists whilst it is also an intellectual arts network platform. The result is that art fairs are some of the few events during which all actors in the art world occupy the same place (Yogev & Grund 2012, Korman 2016). As an art fair is not an isolated part of the art market, it is a part of the arts ecosystem and all its components, agents, and artists need to work together to create a sustainable art market (Rodner and Thomson 2013). Art Stage, as part of Art Week’s vibrant program, and in its global context is a unique opportunity for Singapore’s city branding as many global travellers visit Singapore and museums (like the recently opened museum National Gallery) and galleries (Gillman Barracks arts cluster was initiated through Singapore’s cultural policy) show the best they have, duly covered by the media. Art Stage can be regarded as an educational platform to validate the (Asian) contemporary art by journalists and curators and would therefore serve as an example of a key component of Bourdieu’s theory of taste development (Goldsmith 2006).

Although art fairs are a commercial platform to sell artworks generating economic value, the recognition strengthened through the vital art network might be even more important for artists’ future prospects. The economic power might influence the nature of artists’ practice as they need to fulfil the pressure of art fair representation, keeping in mind logistics and visual attractiveness for the consumer (Goldsmith 2006). On the other hand, Rodner & Kerrigan (2014) are applying Bourdieu’s concept of economic, cultural and social capital to argue that it is up to the artist and their agents to create art which is not only made with the art fair in mind. Their view is therefore rather to use Art Stage as an art platform to shape a market for the artwork and disseminate the artists’ artistic discourse to wider audiences.

Art Stage has established a strong social and cultural foundation including activities such as the South East Asia FORUM and art platform, CATALYST magazine, Art Salon and public artworks and throughout the years they have been creating opportunities for global and cultural interactions. However it now turns out that visitor numbers dropped significantly from 51.000 visitors in peak year 2015 to 40.500 visitors in 2016. Is this due to the deterioration of the spectacle effect or the newness? Or the successful launch of the Singaporean Contemporary Art Fair? Or would it just be a result of the slowdown of the (Asian) economy? To understand the role of Art Stage in the red dot city-state as well as its role in the entire Asian region, the specificities of Singapore need to be taken into consideration. The arts scene is highly dependent on state funding and the Singapore state has strong governmental power and is not afraid to use it, for example by withdrawing economic capital, maintaining many quasi-state institutions and the withdrawal of state endorsement or selfcensorship (Chong 2003). Singapore has the ambition to be a ‘Global Arts Hub’ which should be seen in the context of the larger vision mainly driven by economic reasons jointly with social reasons (Kong 2012).

With a government focused on economic success and prestige how will Art Stage’s success be measured as visitor numbers are dropping? How will the state respond and what strategies will be enforced? As there are many complexities in measuring the effects of arts (Belfiore 2008) one might be tempted to measure Art Stage’s success by number of visitors, number of artworks sold and value of artworks sold. But how about the cultural value, like the uniqueness of artworks and variety of artists presented, or the effort and investment in arts education in order to create taste? Or will the social factor come in to measure the number of Singaporean visitors and the impact on their well-being or nurturing the social arts network? Lorenzo Rudolf values the importance of managing Art Stage not purely on economic capital, but correctly recognises the role of Art Stage also from a cultural and social perspective. However it is the Singapore state who has the final power for sustainable success and therefore the question arises which cards will be played by the state in the future; economic, cultural or social?




The development of an art market segment in Thailand: An example from self-management artists group “V64 Art studio”

Marisa Phandharakrajadej (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3)

In 2011, the Thai local art scene had been shaken by the emergence of new art space. The V64 Art Studio, started by two Thai artists, Kitti Narod and Attasit Pokpong, brought together more than 75 Thai and foreign artists, living and working in Bangkok. Many of them had a small shop to sell their works of art at the flea market Chatuchak, section 7 art and design. This local market is one of the biggest and most popular markets in Bangkok.

Moreover, the V64 Art Studio was set up in the old warehouse, situated in the northern area of Vibhabadi 64, an outskirt of Bangkok. Being a multifunction place spread over 4,800 square meters, this art space was dedicated to art in various forms and had hosted more than 35 artist studios, an art gallery, an artist residence, a coffee shop and a workshop studio for public. It organized art educational and leisure workshops for children and adults.

Inspired by the 798 Art District of Chaoyang, Beijing, the V64 Art Studio aimed to create a self-management art community, linking up the network of amateurs, professional art workers, buyers and the general public. The artists from various styles of expressions gathered and shared the workplace individually or collectively. However, the visitors could meet up sculptors, painters and other multidisciplinary creators personally, and had a chance to exchange their ideas. Furthermore, the V64 Art Studio had welcomed cultural events, art projects organized by public sector or independent cultural managers. Unfortunately, this awe-inspiring synergy of art had to close down in 2014. However, it is still active via social network and is looking forward to open the new platform.

The purpose of this presentation is to explain how the determinants of collective action playing in this art space to negotiate the price of works of art, to describe the factors that lead to failure the collective art spaces and the functional stakes associated with local art markets. The analysis based on interviews brings out the process people followed to manage conflicts and challenges posed by merchants and collectors. Echoed with Apinan Poshyananda[2]’s statement, this study attempts to feature the versatile and unpredictable art market in Bangkok.




Inadequate Reductions? On Blackboxing the Art World in Quantifying Rankings

Paul Buckermann (Universität Luzern)

The presentation discusses two typically modern trajectories in one problematic field: Quantifying observations in the autonomous art world. Powerful discourses on the autonomy of art ground on aspects like incommensurability, aesthetic experience, and uniqueness. However, such semantic figures are generally ignored by standardized measurements and quantifying comparisons.

While discussing qualitative, empirical insights on the ranking Kunstkompass, I briefly present a larger research project’s hypothesis concerning the functions and productive mechanisms of quantifying observations. In a sociological discourse, the Kunstkompass (1970-2015) is known as a data source for analysing the art world’s globalizing patterns (Alain Quemin; Larissa Buchholz). To contribute to this field of research and deepen the understanding of modes of observing world(s), I analyse the ranking with a field-theoretical approach as a blackboxing device. Contingent constructions of both, the art world including its internal structures and the art market, can be shown in the radical reductions of rampant complexities in the Kunstkompass. From this perspective, such modes of observations not only represent an order but in turn epistemically produce and modify these worlds.




“But her work is terribly commercial”: positioning discourses of art and the market

Sarah Sparke (University of the West of England Bristol)

For this congress I propose a paper which draws upon my ten-year anthropological study of the pricing practices of artists involved in the Bristol art trails.  These trails are a particularly useful site for the examination of the relationship between art and the market in that they have been set up by artists as an alternative to the gallery ‘scene’, and allow for the co-existence of a multiplicity of art/market understandings, intents and practices.

The Bristol art trails began in 2001, and there are now eight trails, each involving about one hundred artists.  Each is an annual weekend-long event, held at different times in the year, and in a particular part of the city, as is reflected in the names (eg ‘SouthBank’, ‘West Bristol’, ‘North Bristol Artists’, ‘BS9’).  They are all run (on an unpaid basis) for and by the local artists, with the art work shown primarily in the artists’ houses, but also in community venues, local cafes and shops – as can be seen in the examples below:

Welcome to Southbank Bristol Arts

This volunteer run organisation enables artists and creatives from Southville, Bedminster and Ashton (plus visitors from further afield) to exhibit and share their work in homes and public spaces over one spectacular weekend in May each year.  Visitors have the chance to meet artists and makers in a relaxed environment and also enjoy diverse and fun workshops.

One of the oldest, biggest and best Art Trails that have sprung up around town’  (Bristol Post 2014)

Now in its 14th year, this popular weekend has attracted an impressive 4000-5000 visitors in recent years, with one house alone recording 1000 visitors on its first day.

Whilst many of the trail participants’ discourses are about culture, community involvement and development, the oldest trails were set up by artists who wanted to increase the sales of their work.  For many artists, the understanding that a trail is a commercial opportunity remains a key driver for involvement.  However, there are ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways of negotiating, expressing and interpreting an interest in making sales.

A substantial number of the participants had been taught that “‘commercial’ is a rude word” by their tutors and peers, which is particularly awkward when they want to earn a living from their art, or simply cover some of the costs of production.  It is perhaps not surprising that for many, pricing their work – which is an explicit sign of market consideration – remains a hugely sensitive topic.  Indeed, a number of participants are paralysed, preferring to avoid pricing (ie ‘the market’) altogether rather than risk damaging the ‘art’ categorization of their work. Others, meanwhile, are able to develop a self-funding (perhaps even profitable) practice by successfully negotiating that line.

In this study I draw upon Zelizer’s work on money meanings and Bourdieu’s concepts of distinction and cultural capital to examine artists’ cultural capital regarding ‘how pricing is done by a person like me, with an art work like this, in a context such as this’ – paying particular attention to their discussions of people who are ‘getting it wrong’.




The similarities regime in the algorithmic intermediation: the case of performing arts in the Grand Briançonnais

Eloi Flesch (Université d’Avignon)

With the fatly growing amount of data available on the web, recommender systems have emerged as a new figure in the field of arts. They promote cultural contents fitted to the consumer’s tastes, analyzing their digital profiles through powerful predictive models.

These new sociotechnical tools are a cornerstone for the digital platforms that allow supply to meet demand. Their disruptive power is strong. They are a gate through which spectators become a part of “art worlds”: the digital footprints of their Internet browsing are used, without them knowing, as a partial substitution to the recommendation of the experts.

In this bottom – up reorganization of the cultural market, cultural contents promotion is merely driven by a combination of web users’ digital footprints, and a principle of similarity. These processes are designed without any particular normative preliminary, they require no building of social categories (audience segmentation) nor content categories (artistic genres, popular versus high culture, etc). In the field of the performing arts, these computational systems release the artwork of its dependence upon experts. What is, then, the new prescriptive regime that governs these tools of intermediation? Driven by an accumulation of web users’ data, aren’t recommender systems creating an alienation of artworks to their own audience?

In our project, we will use an interdisciplinary scientific approach, combining Information and Communication Sciences with Computer Sciences. We will work out a method to discover the prescriptive regimes that govern recommendation systems. To this end, we started with a blank sheet, without taxonomy or classification of social groups. Based on spectators’ profiles, along with profiles of performing arts taken from our field work, we will use computer methods to show the similar logics that build cultural paths for the spectators within the available cultural offer. Besides, we will use qualitative methods of social science (direct observation, interviews, surveys) to uncover the social, cultural and symbolic benefits for the individuals, hidden by these statistics. By experimenting with several algorithmic approaches, we will then understand how recommender systems lock spectators inside their cultural tastes, hence alienating the artwork from its own audience or, conversely, how they allow the former to break free from the latter.

Our exploratory work portends analyses through similarities reveal new coherent logics. The potential cultural discordance (trough an art genre approach) finally gets resolved with other reasons such as the involvement of bodies, the need to be a part of a community, logics of territory, etc.  This interdisciplinary work contains its own epistemological perspective: when the modalities of the recommendation switch from a taxonomic model to a similarities regime, it’s necessary to implement the right survey tools. To this end, we are creating a Spectator Observatory with a set of digital tools, as part of a partnership with performing art show organizers (on the territory of the Grand Briançonnais – 35,000 inhabitants). Plugged into the communication networks (websites and digital platforms), this project will record every available information about the cultural offer, as well as the cultural consumption of the spectators (surveys will be sent regularly), and it will understand the reasons of this consumption.




The invisible hand of art. On the «realization of potentials» as a regulatory mechanism in contemporary training and job markets

Denis Hänzi (Technische Universität Darmstadt)

The presentation aims at shedding light on a social ideal gaining currency in western societies of our late capitalist days: the notion of individual «potentials» as something everyone has to look for, make accessible, and tap into. Thus, the «realization» of personal potentials is becoming crucial not only in view of individual career opportunities and paths, but with regard to the organization of training and labor markets at large. Interestingly enough, the momentum of «transition from potentiality to actuality» (Adorno) traditionally –and rather exclusively– stands at the very core of artistic work, though. Given this coincidence, the contribution raises the question whether and, if so, how far one could speak of an «invisible hand of art» regulating contemporary apprenticeship and employment markets. In order to get to the bottom of «potentialism» as a regulatory mechanism –which, by the way, perfectly meets the requirements both of the «new spirit of capitalism» (Boltanski/Chiapello) and the «entrepreneurial self» (Bröckling)–, its constitutive

forces and ambivalent implications will be retraced in the presentation. On a final note, drawing on an empirical example from theatre, it will be shown that the «invisible hand of art» not least brings forth market-regulating effects in contemporary art worlds themselves.








[1] The most common attribution levels on the art market are: By, By and studio, Studio of/Workshop of, Circle of/School of, Follower of/Style of, Copy after.

[2] Poshyananda, Apinan (1991). Modern Art in Thailand. Oxford University Press: New York. p. 180