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High PriceArt Between the Market and Celebrity Culture

(excerpt, p. 9)

This book examines the relationship between art and the market. Its central theme is that there is no strict separation between the two, as is often assumed, but that art and the market are mutually dependent while also retaining some degree of autonomy. As far as its method is concerned, it combines critical theory with social analysis, presenting empirical data as the starting point for theoretical reflection. The following chapters show that art and the market are deeply entangled while constantly pulling away from each other. Their relationship can thus be characterized more precisely as a dialectical unity of opposites, an opposition whose poles effectively form a single unit. Many examples are cited to illustrate this dynamic, including the ways in which market requirements actually do influence artistic practice (at the level of format or production costs, for instance) without totally determining it; to the same degree as artworks obey external laws, they also possess their own logic. The idea that numerous market players have of themselves is also examined, as in the case of gallerists, artists, and also critics, who tend to banish the market to an imaginary outside with which they themselves do not identify. And yet, such rhetorical rejection of the market is often a precondition for the successful marketing of artworks.
Instead of conceiving of “the market” as evil Other, I work from the premise that we are all, in different ways, bound up in specific market conditions. Consequently, the market is not understood as a reality detached from society. Rather, after sociologist Lars Gertenbach, it is conceived of as a net that encloses the entirety of social conditions. But every net has its holes, holes that can be made wider, which in theory can cause the entire net to rupture. Being constrained by market conditions does not imply that we cannot reject them. On the contrary, this book advocates questioning market values precisely in the light of one's own involvement. It is possible to reflect on market conditions at the same time as striving for conditions other than those seemingly imposed by consumer capitalism.
Isabelle Graw: other titles

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