ARTS & SOCIETIES
 

LETTER OF SEMINAR 8

Centre d’Histoire de Sciences Po

 
 
 

THE MARKET, AT THE START


--Sir, 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.


Jérôme Poggi
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.


Dominique Sagot-Duvauroux
The economic models of culture.


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




 
EDITORIAL


         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.

         Descended from 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.
         Dominique Sagot-Duvauroux 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.

Laurence Bertrand Dorléac




Letter published with the support of the Foundation of France

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