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Institutional Theory of Art and the Artworld
Overview by Martin Irvine The function of the artworld as a social-economic network The primary function of the artworld is continually to define, validate, and maintain the cultural category of art, and to produce the consent of the entire society in the legitimacy of the artworld's authority to do so. The artworld is thus part of our system of professions, and many parts of the artworld network are now highly professionalized and careerist. As in all institutions as interdependent networks, you don't need to know you are participating in the artworld to be carrying out its primary cultural function. Compare Arthur Danto's and Pierre Bourdieu's views: the artworld as the provider of an operational theory of art that participants use to distinguish art from non-art (Danto). the artworld as conditioned or determined by social and economic lived positions, requiring knowledge and ownership of cultural capital as part of social class identity, the theory or concepts of art following learned professional and social class distinctions (Bourdieu). The artworld network is the ground of possibility for anything to appear as art for us today. Think of the artworld institution as the complex field of forces which constitute art works as such, providing the context and rules for the possibility of something appearing to us as art per se. The artworld also provides the structure of symbolic capital (Bourdieu): value, prestige, and other intangible factors that are fungible values--exchangeable for money. What makes something an artwork is invisible: there's no "there there" outside a position in the artworld network.
and the art market in a large social and economic field of interdependent communities of social actors. art exhibition. social. but are the grounds of possibility for art to appear for us at all. and expects members to know them. art making. Can be plugged into a complexity or systems model like mediology. but there's more to the artworld "club" in operational. like all networks. George Dickie’s institutional theory of art (Professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois-Chicago).What makes something an artwork is not an observable property in an artwork itself.literally invisible. The art world is a social and economic network. art viewer) from the question of art (what is art? how does a work become art? does it have to be good to be art?). and. contingent. Contributors to the Institutional Theory of Art Arthur Danto first gave the notion of the "artworld" a philosophical definition: the artworld provides the theories of art which all members of the artworld tacitly assume in order for there to be objects considered as art (see "The Artworld. and economic terms. stated and restated in two books: Art and the Aesthetic: An Institutional Analysis. definitions of concepts. A constitutive. whose exchanges and working agreements constitute the art world as such. Value of an institutional approach to understanding the Artworld Provides a way of describing the social and economic conditions that make art possible today. ." Journal of Philosophy (1964)). and interdependent view. Ithaca: NY: Cornell UP. Situates art. has externalities or network effects that create more incentives to be connected to the network than disincentives to remain disconnected. The artworld does circulate theories about art. and interpretation (hermeneutics). Approaching the question from the point of view of epistemology. Removes solitary individual agency (artist. The work is a node in a network of forces without which it would be unrecognizable-. Opens up analysis of the art work itself as being constituted by a complex field of forces that are not visible in art object itself.
A public is a set of persons the members of which are prepared in some degree to understand an object which is presented to them.464) Revision of basic definition in 1997: "A work of art is an artifact of a kind created to be presented to an artworld public. Dickie’s first attempt to construct an institutional (social-contextual-relational) definition of art (1974 version). The artworld is the totality of all artworld systems. An artworld system is a framework for the presentation of a work of art by an artist to an artworld public" Explanations of terms: "artifact" . An artist is a person who participates with understanding in the making of a work of art.means that human intentionality is present. legal indictment) "candidate for appreciation" . Art Circle: A Theory of Art." (p.also means a . Chicago: Spectrum Press.1974. "A work of art in the classificatory sense is: (1)an [original] artifact (2) a set of the aspects of which has had conferred upon it the status of candidate for appreciation by some person or persons acting on behalf of a certain social institution (the artworld). 1997. including the case choosing a found object or "readymade" conferring of status by an artworld agent or context (analogy to conferring of knighthood.
candidate for consideration as an artwork. Important points: Artworlds involve collective activities and shared conventions.who does this include? "essential core" vs peripheral group (dealer. Only interested in the classification of an art object as such. object may not be appreciated at all. Defines art by collective activities that constitute the production of art. Significance: The first theory which does not appeal to a feature of the art object (some essential recognizable "artness" in an object). not in quality. not by the end products (art works). how an object becomes art.Howard Becker. Circumvents the pseudo-problem of defining art by some essential property in the works themselves. Warhol's appropriated images and Brillo boxes.Duchamp’s readymades. collector) Prime examples of the theory at work -. Art status and value separated--non-prescriptive definition in terms of what should be valued or whether any object has value. curator. Art Worlds (Berkeley: University of California Press. or any other traditional art problem. but is offered up as such by the artworld the institution . The first theory which takes into account the context of the work of art--specifically. attempts to define what makes up an artworld using sociological methodology. 1982) Written after Dickie. . the artworld. value. the social context of reception and the construction of meaning and value.
29) "Conventions make possible the easy and efficient coordination of activity among artists and support personnel. as well as the way their existence affects both the production and consumption of art work." (p." (p. "ownership" of art environments.26) "Conventions regulate the relations between artists and audience." (p." (p.1) "The artist thus works in the center of a network of cooperating people. constitutes an art object.30). Basic assumptions in Becker's theory: "The existence of art worlds. and compete with them for audiences and financial support. An art object as such only lives within a social system. all of whose work is essential to the final outcome. specifying the rights and obligations of both.36) See Becker's recent definition of art worlds in "A New Art Form: Hypertext Fiction. not any individual. (p." (p.Defines artworld members and the cooperation of individuals in creating a whole artworld system. shared social-class expectations. adopt ideas that originate in them. The system. suggests a sociological approach to the arts". .25) "The artist’s involvement with and dependence on cooperative links thus constrains the kind of art he can produce. "[A]rt worlds typically have intimate and extensive relations with the worlds from which they try to distinguish themselves. They share sources of supply with those other worlds."Pierre Bourdieu's view of the Art World Social class education. recruit personnel from them.
art writers art periodical publishers. Artworld institutions create the visible structure and hierarchies in the presentation of art in a sliding scale from: the blockbuster museum shows of canonized artists (e. corporations). subcommunities. a network emerging from many smaller micro-worlds. alternative art spaces. organizations. Richter) as capstone to career and institutional valorization first museum shows for rising stars major gallery shows in the art power cities gallery shows in lesser cities first shows for artists beginning their careers in alternative or university art spaces Artworld Network: The Political Economy of the Artworld The art world is structured as an interdependent network of socialeconomic actors who cooperate--often contentiously or unknowing--to enact and perpetuate the art world. all with greater or lesser knowledge of the entire network. large and small curated exhibitions. catalogues).g. an art world "container" (galleries. and professional art teachers artists art historians and academic art theorists art critics.Social class values determine what gets in and what stays out. "MatissePicasso" at MoMA) the major artist's retrospective (e.. Summing Up:The Artworld as Social-Economic Network The Artworld is made visible in the activities of art world institutions (social and economic networks. magazine editors and professional . while at the same time negotiating kinds and levels of cooperation in a mutually understood careerist and competitive context. museums. who's inside and who's outside of the art world. The art work is always presented in institutional context. See Pierre Bourdieu. biennials.g." 1977 and 1983 (excerpts). colleges. art schools. The Artworld is really an aggregation of art worlds. "The Production of Belief.
etc. other museum professionals public and private art collection managers international art fair organizers. museum directors. educators. an art work. what were the social-economic . an art genre Situate art work in the constitutive network of relations to disclose how the work came to be included in the artworld. a movement. etc. art materials specialists museum and collections security systems. donors. corporations. climate control. monographs. and dealers art dealers and galleries curators. Who were the necessary actors. supporters.production staff book publishing industry for art books.) (connected to general economy through invested endowments and private contributions) all staff levels in art funding organizations: public (local. and federal government) and private (foundations. non-profit spaces. both direct grants to artists and funding of art organizations (museums. museum exhibitions professional associations for artists. public art funders private arts support foundations. Documenta. archiving Doing research: Build out the big picture when studying an artist. what institutions and artworld containers defined the work. funders managers and organizations for international art exhibitions (biennials. university galleries.) art collectors art patrons. corporate art funding) auction houses and art business professionals in the auction companies art consultants art investment advisors art insurance companies art market data companies and publishers art advertising and art marketing specialists directors of non-profit and alternative art spaces art materials suppliers and materials fabricators conservators. state.
2003-2008 .conditions (follow the money). Martin Irvine. how was the work/artist received in the artworld. what were the contexts for interpretation Continue: Artworld Case Studies: consider examples of art works in their conditions of production and reception in the artworld.