MARKET, AT THE START
I’d like to buy some stock.
--Madame is mistaken, this is an art exhibition here!
--But sir, there’s a turnstile at the door!
Cham, “A walk in the salon,” Le Charivari,
May 15, 1859.
Painting to be seen versus Painting to be sold :
The paying exhibition as alternative to the commercialization
of the work of art under the Second Empire.
The economic models of culture.
Editorial Director: Laurence Bertrand Dorléac
Editorial Assistant: Elodie Antoine
Translator: David Ames Curtis
One must wait
until the seventeenth century to see art become no longer just
the object of isolated exchanges carried out in order to enlarge
the coffers of churches and princes and to give itself out as
a commodity to institutions capable of ensuring aboveboard transactions
that would allow price comparison and therefore competition among
buyers. Even if the existence of a first auction in Venice as
early as 1506 is known, such institutions grew in number in the
Netherlands and the system of transactions was set in place at
that time, then in London and in Paris, which starting in the
eighteenth century became a stronghold where objects of all provenances
were traded. Still, very few sales at auction were organized until
1730, then once a month in the 1760s, and already almost once
a week by the 1780s.
As regards galleries,
Watteau has bequeathed to us the famous sign of Gersaint, which
exhibited, all at once, pictures, sculptures, and objects of natural
history. One witnessed the emergence of the figure of the dealer,
who was often trained as a painter or engraver, therefore an expert,
both an artist and a retailer--which is not surprising to connoisseurs
of the nineteenth century. Jérôme Poggi offers us,
in this regard, some new sources of interest. His unique study
of the “anterooms of modernity” under the Second Empire
shows us the metamorphoses of the art world and of its market--which,
as we knew, fed on the decay of the Salon system but not to this
point of wavering between two opposed models. The most audacious
experiments in new commercial methods were undertaken by artists
themselves and were based at the time upon a rather lively resistance
to commercialization. Such experiments were born at the very origin
of the modern market and naturally drew upon the utopias of the
generation of the Revolution of 1848.
the Saint-Simonians and the Fourierists, Louis Martinet distinguished
himself along these lines by allowing the great artists of the
day to be seen rather than to be bought. Among
those artists were Ingres, Manet, Delacroix, Corot, Rousseau,
Millet, Courbet, and Carpeaux. He imagined the possibility of
reuniting all the arts in one gallery that would also be a lively
meeting area, a boudoir, and a concert hall. He failed, if you
will, like the revolutionaries whose projects, not alien to these
antecedents, would also fail in the future--particularly in France
in the 1960s. He had to abandon his project, but the idea was
not, for all that, thereby exhausted, nor had the broadly shared
feeling disappeared that art is not a commodity like any other
but, rather, an original object worthy of its own system of exchange.
engages in a dialogue with Jérôme Poggi. As a fine
connoisseur of the cultural economy, he sheds light on the present-day
crisis of the traditional models. Amidst this crisis, we see reborn
the debates and experiments from the nineteenth century with a
desire to get things moving that, in his view, is not unlike the
passion for reform under the Second Empire.