Prof. em. Dr.
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PublicationKunst und Kapital. Zur Ökonomie symbolischer Güter am Beispiel einer Ethnographie der Art BaselArt 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.Type: conference paper
PublicationWhen Art meets Money : Encounters at the Art BaselThe Art Basel is more than just a fair in the commercial sense of the word, more than a temporally and spatially concentrated gathering of dealers offering their goods for sale to interested buyers. It is at the same time the site of a display of »holy« goods in the pres-ence of thousands and thousands of believers, a pilgrim's goal for the ritualized adoration of modern and contemporary art. It is also, and for precisely this reason, the decisive wit-ness of the upheaval marking a radical change in that relationship between »art« and »money« - with all the consequences, not least for the evaluation of what is to be re-garded as »genuine« art. The present study, the result of several years of sociological field work, attempts to draw a picture of this change as perceived by the participants, the or-ganizers of the fair, the gallerists, collectors, curators, art consultants and artists, as a central problem of the contemporary art scene. The authors, members of a research group of the University of St. Gallen, present in When Art meets Money a detailed study of the practice of the contemporary »picture market«, drawing upon Pierre Bourdieu's influential sociology of art.Type: bookIssue: Bd. 44