ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, 09|17|2011 – 02|05|2012
Art as Commoditiy. The New Economy and the Art Markets

Is Art Business as Usual? Art as Global Economy


Elmgreen & Dragset »Prada Marfa« 2005 © Elmgreen & Dragset

When, in 2008, Elmgreen & Dragset depicted the art world as an inaccessible Prada Store in the middle of the American desert, German artist Antonia Hirsch had already fixed the distorted geography of the art market in 23 carat gold leaf. Her visualization of ArtNews Top 200, an annually published list of the most important art collectors worldwide reaffirms the fact that art has always been an exclusive business: Hirsch struck off from the world map each country that failed to represent at least two art collectors in the ARTnews list. What remained was the West - and the rest was simply empty paper. After the Internet databank Artprice announced this year that China had replaced the English art market as the second largest in the world, it would seem obvious that Hirsch’s world map, if realized once again in 2011, would look different.

In 2007, Damien Hirst underscored the fact that art is a business no less than any other, when selling the diamond-set skull entitled For the Love of God  for 100 million dollars to an investment group to which he himself evidently belonged. In the 20th century Marcel Duchamp’s Readymades sold art as commodity and commodities as art – he simply dispensed with ‘l’art pour l’art’. And yet, at that time, it was inconceivable that half a century later a heated controversy would erupt over whether or not the art market is more corrupt than the stock market. ‘Business as usual’ refers to the fact that now, as before, art is a playground of the rich. But does not the artist himself increasingly become a good in this process? is the question that arises when thinking of star collector Charles Saatchi appearing on the BBC in search of the ,next British art sensation‘. At the same time, however, contemporary artists are searching for new ways to define art production and consumption. If you are interested in purchasing art, then visit Liu Ding’s Store in The Global Contemporary. He says of himself: “I simply appear in the company of other things.”


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