Kathryn Brown’s article “Screen culture, online auctions, and art market spectacle” has been published in Visual Studies (Taylor & Francis, May, 2021).
This article examines the symbolic, financial, and visual qualities of spectacular, multi-site, online art auctions staged by Sotheby’s and Christie’s during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is argued that these events adopted visual techniques drawn from television game shows and popular cinema culture to create a distinctive screen-based reality for the transaction of art assets. Much of the rhetoric employed by the auction houses to publicize online auctions suggested a utopian conception of technology capable of encouraging artistic innovation and broadening access to art markets. In contrast to the idea that these online formats constitute democratic change in the artworld, this article argues that the control of new technological infrastructures represents an extension of institutional power and maintains the socio-cultural elitism of urban centres in which physical art auctions at the top end of the market have traditionally been conducted.
A limited number of free eprints can be downloaded here: https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/URZ9DPFKIKXZHPGWFZMY/full?target=10.1080/1472586X.2021.1915176