The Real Price: Between art and the (art) market

Bill Balaskas, Kingston University, London

The global financial crisis of 2008 caused widespread political and social turmoil, whose consequences can still be felt around the world. Yet, as the Lehman Brothers investment bank was collapsing in New York in the early autumn of 2008, an auction of works by Damien Hirst in London was fetching more than $200 million. The fact that on the eve of the most severe economic crisis for eight decades a contemporary artist could make this amount of money raised important questions not only about the way in which the (art) market functions, but also about the way in which we evaluate culture at large. Today, a decade after the end of the Great Recession, art organisations and artists continue to struggle, while policymakers systematically overlook culture and art education. This session will explore the relationship between art and the economy in different historical periods and from diverse points of view. Topics addressed by the session’s contributors will include:

  • Artworks as commodities: use and exchange values;
  • The art circuit: economic actors and networks;
  • Marketing and the spectacularisation of art;
  • Contribution of culture to the economy;
  • Artists’ productivity and subsistence;
  • The artist as a businessperson;
  • The value of cultural capital;
  • Art’s reaction to economic crises;
  • Depictions of marketplaces, transactions and enterprises in art;
  • The role of patrons and collectors;
  • Cultural policies and economic institutionalisation;
  • Intellectual property;
  • Art education, employability and the creative industries.

Joseph Gillott: A collector commodifying art in 19th Century Britain
Joshua Eversfield Jenkins (University of Edinburgh)

The True Value of Art: Investment returns using costs of production
Amy Whitaker (New York University)
Roman Kräussl (University of Luxembourg and Hoover Institution, Stanford University)

What’s in Anonymity? An Insight into the market for indeterminate works of art
Anne-Sophie V.E. Radermecker (Duke University (DALMI – Duke, Art, Law and Markets Initiative) and Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB))

Going Public: International art collectors in Sheffield
Ashley Gallant (Museums Sheffield)

Emerging Models for Emerging Practices: A gallerist’s perspective
James Gardner (John Cabot University, Rome and Frutta Gallery, Rome)

Telling Stories: Art and financial true crime
Monica Steinberg (The University of Hong Kong)




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