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ThesisUniversity of Iceland>Hugvísindasvið>B.A. verkefni>

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/12882


The Business of Art. An Overview of the Marketing of Artworks from the Renaissance to Modernity

September 2012

The relationship between art and money tends to be a sensitive issue. In order to discuss the commodification of art with some detachment it is therefore beneficial to distinguish artworks by the way in which they are produced, marketed and received. This essay presents three distinct means of artwork production: the commissioned, produced and mass-produced artwork. These ways of producing art involve artworks produced through contractual constraint; artworks produced with no contracts involved, and artworks produced for the viewing or consumption of a mass audience, respectively. In order to gain a fuller view of the art market, an overview of its history and basic mechanisms is given. Although it is impossible to give a thorough account of how artworks have been received throughout history, an attempt will be made here to give an overview of how the appreciation of visual art has changed from the Renaissance until today. We follow how art has been received through shifting class structures as well as having gained respect as a serious pursuit among the liberal arts. This review presents us with various interesting results. The style of an artwork can in some ways be related to the class of its buyer; the dispute over the commodification of art can be closely tied to its recognition as something beyond a mere decoration and, perhaps most importantly, the commodification of art is neither as corrosive nor as important to an artwork as one might think.


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