ARTS & SOCIETIES
 

LETTER OF SEMINAR 11

Centre d’Histoire de Sciences Po

 
 
 
MAJOR EXHIBITIONS


Inauguration of the First Beijing International Art Biennial, 2003.


Paul Ardenne
Contemporary Art and Global System


Olivier Berggruen
The Time of Changes


Editorial Director: Laurence Bertrand Dorléac
Editorial Assistant: Elodie Antoine
Translator: David Ames Curtis

PREVIOUS LETTER

THE INFLUENCE OF THE SAINT-SIMONIANS AND THE IDEA OF ART IN THE VANGUARD OF THE SOCIAL REFORM

BODY MORALITY

DANDIES

The Model Child

The beautiful and the useful

New Publics, Between Utopia and Marketing

Photographs by amateurs

the market, at the start

art in the republic

the voyage of the avant-gardes




 
EDITORIAL


         In The Ephemeral Museum, Francis Haskell decried the new hegemony created by major art exhibitions and the harmful consequences thereof. He recalled the genesis of the ways in which art works circulate as well as, from the early twentieth century, the first loans of paintings for prestigious international exhibitions, the establishment of ties between museums and other institutions, and the role played by various forms of nationalism.

        Exhibitions have always been sites of legitimation and regulation for artistic life and for the market. The history dates back to the seventeenth century and to the first salons organized by the young Academy of Painters and Sculptors, which tried to curb a movement toward self-management on the part of artists. Thus, toward the middle of the seventeenth century, a certain Martin de Charmois could complain to the royal family about artists who wanted to shake off their status as artisans by keeping shop themselves and securing their own market.

        We know what followed, with salons organized by a powerful Academy ultimately coupled with juries that were more open to varied selection criteria. From a still rather simple system affecting a still rather limited and homogeneous world, we have passed over to an ever more complex situation with an ever greater number of actors, sites, and objects for the use of vaster and vaster populations. One need only examine to what extent Biennials have proliferated since the 1990s, establishing themselves now as genuine artistic phenomena in their own right as well as for purposes of tourism and diplomacy and with regard to economic and political considerations.

        Paul Ardenne and Olivier Berggruen, who are art historians as well as exhibition curators, have had many years of experience dealing the events that punctuate international artistic life. The assessments they have drawn up are both informed and critical: acceleration, globalization, and standardization of the norms of legitimation as well as of the sites of presentation; cross-fertilization among institutions that have become interchangeable; the preeminent place of art fairs, of show business [du spectacle], and of economics, with elitism and populism combined amid unequal exchanges between the West and its partners.

        In this respect, islets of resistance--if not breaches--do indeed exist. But to some, the political condition of art will seem to be determined largely by positions that might aim more at maintaining a bogus exoticism than at inventing a true dialogue with new arrivals on the market. Others will see the extension of the domain of art as a privileged site for tensions wherein questions of identity and power are tirelessly raised over and over again through breaking down existing fiefdoms and by an effort to activate the world’s thought.

Laurence Bertrand Dorléac




Letter published with the support of the Foundation of France

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