L: Filip Vermeylen, Caught in the wheels of commerce (Berlin, 11 Dec 2017)

The presentation examines the implications of the globalization and commodification of the art trade in contemporary India. Market forces appear to be having a significant impact on the artistic production in the visual arts in India, and it is revealing how traditional art schools such as Madhubani painting are being transformed by India’s inclusion in the global art market. For instance, the India Art Fair (Delhi) and the Kochi Biennale in Kerala now offer an international platform for the marketing of old and new art forms, and as a result, these works are increasingly sought after and appropriated by both Indian and Western consumers. In addition, the digital revolution has paved the way for novel ways of marketing art. Artists are adapting to these new realities, for instance, by forming collectives, which allows them to better negotiate with dealers and other intermediaries. Based on fieldwork undertaken in the state of Bihar together with Bhagyalakshmi Daga (Erasmus University), I will discuss the strategies implemented by rural artists who practice Madhubani art in order to deal with the increasing demand for their work. In so doing, the lecture will take stock of the processes of the commodification of traditional art and ascertain how the international market maybe altering the function, and even meaning, of indigenous art.

Prof. Dr. Filip Vermeylen

Filip Vermeylen (PhD. Columbia University 2002) is Professor of Global Art Markets at the Erasmus University Rotterdam in The Netherlands. He lectures and publishes on various aspects of the economics of art and culture, and is currently the chair of the Department of Arts and Culture Studies. He is especially interested in the history and functioning of art markets since the Renaissance, the notion of quality in the visual arts, the role of intermediaries as arbiters of taste and emerging art markets such as India. He is a board member of The International Art Market Association (TIAMSA) and co-founder of the Rotterdam Arts & Sciences Lab (www.rasl.nu). Together with Christian Huemer (Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles), he is currently writing a book on the history of the art market which will be published by Getty Publications in 2018.