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

Session Convenor:

Bill Balaskas (Kingston University)

Please email your paper proposal to the session convenor using the Paper Proposal Form


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 record prices. The fact that on the eve of the most severe economic crisis for eight decades a contemporary artist could, as Maev Kennedy put it, make ‘more money in two days than all the artists in the National Gallery earned in a lifetime’ (Guardian, 2008), 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 aspires to explore the relationship between art and the economy in different historical periods and from diverse points of view. Proposed topics might include, but are by no means limited to:

  • 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

Submit a paper

Please email your paper proposals direct to the session convenor above, using the Paper Proposal Form

You need to provide a title and abstract (250 words maximum) for a 25-minute paper (unless otherwise specified), your name and institutional affiliation (if any).

Please make sure the title is concise and reflects the contents of the paper because the title is what appears online, in social media and in the printed programme.

You should receive an acknowledgement receipt of your submission within two weeks from the session convenors.

Deadline for submissions: Monday 21 October 2019

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