Peripheral Visions: Lecture Series on Cross-Disciplinary Approaches to Contemporary Art


Art and the Economy

The Myth of a Global Art Market

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

18.00 - 19.00, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre

book cover - contemporary art and its commercial markets - by maria lind and olav velthuis

Speaker(s): Dr Olav Velthuis (Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Amsterdam)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Kaija Kaitavuori and Liz Kim with Prof Julian Stallabrass (The Courtauld Institute of Art). Sponsored in part by the Sfumato Foundation

In the new millennium, the market for contemporary art has transformed into a global enterprise, or so it seems. Chinese and Russian collectors are driving up price levels at Sotheby’s and Christie’s; art fairs have become the favorite pastime for a global cosmopolitan elite, while London and New York superdealers have opened branches in multiple cities, including Hong Kong and Sao Paolo. These global dynamics are limited to a small top segment of the market, however. Power struggles, differences in taste and the organizational intricacies of art markets continue to set boundaries to cultural globalization.

Olav Velthuis is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the University of Amsterdam. He is currently studying the emergence and development of art markets in the BRIC-countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). Velthuis is the author of Imaginary Economics (NAi Publishers, 2005) and Talking Prices. Symbolic Meanings of Prices on the Market for Contemporary Art (Princeton University Press, 2005). Together with Maria Lind he edited the book Contemporary Art and Its Commercial Markets A Report on Current Conditions and Future Scenarios (Sternberg Press, 2012). His journalistic writings have appeared in among others Artforum, the Art Newspaper and the Financial Times.

Series Introduction: The study of contemporary art within the field of art history has been making limited uses of the methodologies of social sciences and law, but recently there has been an increasing level of interest in cross-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary dialogues. This series of events brings together researchers who will present methods for studying art from cultural policy, law, and sociology to art historians for closer examination, and asks how they could be used within the discipline of art history. These methodological examinations will aim to activate dialogues between art historians and international specialists in social sciences and in law.

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