CFP: Market Makes Culture: Works of Art Caught between the Poles of Culture and Markets

Market Makes Culture: Works of Art Caught between the Poles of Culture and Markets

Section 6 of the XXXV Congress of German Art Historians
at the Georg-August-Universität
in Göttingen (27 – 31 March 2019)

Although the stereotype of the “autonomous artist” has repeatedly been examined critically in art history over the course of the 20th century, it remains the more or less virulent starting point of many monographic investigations as well as exhibitions. The same can be said about works that are primarily understood and communicated in such contexts as manifestations of artistic genius. Although sociological and economical approaches have frequently been applied inart history in the past, up until this point, the specific (art) object as medium and object of action between the poles of economics and culture has rarely been analysed and discussed.

This session specifically addresses the relevance of economic constraints in and for the development of (art) objects. Within this context, various facets of these objects can be discussed from a new perspective, e.g. to what extent “market requirements” influence such factors as invoicing, materiality, motifs, subject matter and outward appearance of objects. When such criteria are developed, defined and communicated by individual persons, who are in turn representatives of e.g. cultures, social classes, groups or professions, the work of art can simultaneously be understood as a significant element of social relationships between, for example, clients, patrons, buyers, artists and interested members of the general public. The various possible means of viewing a work should also be examined, as it can be perceived and used in certain contexts as an object serving primarily commercial purposes.

In addition, the art object can be understood as the product of (negotiation) processes between the aforementioned actors, which, in its specific materiality and form, can provide information about these processes. Finally, this perspective is further differentiated by the fact that specific objects are on the one hand unique pieces, but can on the other hand be understood and used as prototypes or models for entire series of works or products, which then allow broad distribution as a specific response to the aforementioned “market requirements” that have been realised in a single object.

We welcome the submission of papers that discuss topics such as the transformation of an art object into a commodity (e.g. through the merchandising of art works at blockbuster exhibitions), or the position of the artist in the market network (from the procurement of materials, the conditions of production and opportunities of presentation to marketing), such as the adaptation of designs to market dynamics, trading by auction between the poles of market and private use or the copy (as medium of appropriation, revaluation and appreciation in value).

Henry Keazor, Heidelberg / Katja Patzel-Mattern, Heidelberg

The congress is a biennial meeting of a German specialist society and an event of national significance with international participation; therefore, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) usually provides funding for speakers from foreign countries. Funding is provided for travel expenses (rail or air) for roundtrip travel to the meeting as well as maintenance costs for each day of the event.

Conference languages are German and English.

The complete Call for Papers and additional information is available on the congress website:

Closing date for submissions: 25 May 2018.

Applications may only be submitted to the association office using the online application portal on the congress website.