REJECTION OF COMMERCE IN THE ARTS

REJECTION OF COMMERCE IN THE ARTS (draft of Part 3 of The Art Period book)

at6

 Abbing – Rejection of Commerce – Draft of Part III of book The Art Period – June 2016.docx 6/21/2016
REJECTION OF COMMERCE IN THE ARTS (IN THE ART PERIOD)
Hans Abbing, hansabbing@gmail.com, Emeritus Professor University of Amsterdam Draft June 2016 If you want to refer to this text please include “draft June 2016” in the reference. If you want to distribute the text or distribute links that give access to the text, please inform me first . PLEASE NOTE – That this is a draft version. The final version is likely to be very different (and, if possible, shorter) – That
comments are very welcome
; also if they were to lead to more sentences in specific sections.
That the final text will be thoroughly edited and that the English will be corrected.
 The text below is Part III Rejection of Commerce of my forthcoming book:
THE ART PERIOD. On the changing social economic position of the arts
(2018 and maybe earlier).
 
The book will consist of four parts and a conclusion:
THE ART PERIOD. On the changing social economic position of the arts
 
Part I
THE TRIUMPH OF SERIOUS ART
 Part II
BOUNDARIES AND BARRIERS. INCLUSION AND EXCLUSION
 Part III
REJECTION OF COMMERCE
 Part IV
ART WORLD AUTHORITY AND ARTISTS
 
SOMETHING GAINED, SOMETHING LOST (
Conclusion and Discussion)
 2
Part III REJECTION OF COMMERCE IN THE ARTS
[INTRO]
In the nineteenth century a process of de-commercialization accompanies the beginning of the art period. In spite of the fact that markets and commerce in the arts have clearly contributed to the triumph of art in art circles a rejection of commerce and commercialism becomes common. Whereas most art markets in the eighteenth century are overtly commerce-driven and the pursuit of profit comes first, now the a-commercial part of art worlds start to grow at the cost of the commercial part of art worlds. The majority of commerce-dedicated participants is expelled.*
1
 Signposts of the de-commercialization are the newly established nonprofit art institutions. Participation in the ever larger a-commercial part of art worlds is, however, not limited to people in nonprofits; also many people in *lawful for profits participate: foremost creative artists and people in for profit ensembles, but also dealers, people in small publishing houses and so forth. They all start to adhere to an art ethos. Nevertheless, closer examination learns that in the background behavior in the art-dedicated parts of art worlds is often guided by a more or less commercial logic, but this is veiled. Therefore art worlds are largely
a-commercial 
 (or anti-commercial) rather than non-commercial.
Presently, there is a process of re-commercialization going on and a commercial logic is becoming more important again in the arts. A commercial logic infiltrates the art ethos. Even the management of nonprofits are openly applying more commercial techniques and adapt a far more commercial logic. Cultural entrepreneurship among artists also exemplifies a re-commercialization. What is particularly striking is that the de facto re-commercialization is accepted by most art world participants. There is however a reaction. Among groups of artists, art lovers and art theorists the rejection of commerce in the arts is becoming stronger again. These groups represent what I shall call
the new critics of commerce
. Conservative new critics foremost oppose that artists become cultural entrepreneurs. And the leftist new critics, unlike the old, now also distrust large nonprofits and art world establishments. They also fear that present unregulated capitalism and thus neo-liberalism increasingly get a hold on the arts. We will come across this contemporary split in mindsets —a majority going along and some going against the re-commercialization of the arts— again and again in this part of the book. It is typical for the forthcoming end of the art period and the weakening or changing art ethos.
In these paragraphs I have used the term commerce, commercial and commercialization in a broad or metaphoric sense. Further down I will clarify the concepts and the ways they are used. This is the more necessary because in art worlds the discourse about commerce is often fuzzy. When criticizing commerce art world people tend to use the terms in different meanings often without being aware of this. Therefore it is often not clear what it exactly is that they criticize. Therefore I will use this part of the book also to disentangle the criticism. Reading old and new texts and listening during a period of 50 years to artists and to people working in nonprofits, it appears that there are three main groups of criticism. First, the very fact that art must be sold and so becomes commensurate is experienced as unwanted —this is the topic of the first chapter. Second, commercialism is rejected: artists must not market their art, they must not pursue profit in the form of money or non-financial rewards, and they must not compromise by pleasing consumers —this is the topic of the following chapter. And third, art world people worry about more general market forces in a market economy or more specifically the forces within a capitalist and neo-liberal economy —this is the topic of the last chapter.
1
 For the way the term art world is used in this book see **
 3
The worlds of art and money are thought to be hostile worlds.
 I use the remainder of this introduction to say more about this phenomenon, a phenomenon that matters for all three following chapters. In the art period the denunciation of commerce, markets (or
the 
 market) and commercialism are important symbols of membership in art worlds. Putting them down brings feelings of solidarity. This befits the a-commercial or anti-commercial nature of art worlds. In conversations the general praise of art almost always goes together with a rejection of commerce in the arts. This applies to conversations about art between artists in a local pub, between art lovers during an opening reception in a gallery as well as to that of construction workers during their lunch hour: “Art and money do not go together”, or “Money corrupts art”. It also happens that people raise their status within their own art circle by putting down commerce in the arts. This is what for instance directors of art institutions do when they exhibit a non-committal denunciation of commerce —and even more so when they succeed in combining it with an anti-capitalist stance. In such cases the terms money, commerce, markets,
the 
 market, commodity and commodification are often used in a metaphoric sense. For instance, whereas commerce in its proper economic sense refers to trade, in its metaphoric use it refers to far more than just trade: it can, for instance, also stand for a pursuit of profit or for the use of much marketing. Also terms like money, markets,
the 
 market, commodity and commodification are often used in a metaphoric sense. (In this book the sense in which the terms are used will usually be clear from the context. Otherwise I will make it clear, for instance by putting terms in between inverted commas when they are used in a metaphoric sense.) The notion that that the world of money and the world of art are hostile spheres and a belief that the former can harm art has to be taken seriously. It can be found not only among artists and art lovers, but also among eminent thinkers and critics like Georg Simmel, Max Weber, Arnold Hauser, Theodor  Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Peter Bürger and Robert Hughes.
2
 Also some economists, like Arjo Klamer, adhere to the notion.
3
 (But many economists disagree and sometimes explicitly “praise” an orientation on markets and a commercial culture, as for instance Tyler Cowen does.
4
) How loaded with negative value the things are that “money” stands for, shows from the evident confusion among some artists between real money and “money” as a concept symbolizing all sorts of evil, from commerce and the pursuit of profit to compromise, corruption, a market economy and capitalism. Otherwise it is hard to explain that all through the art period and most of all after the middle of the twentieth century artists come up with proposals that serve the goal of getting rid of money, and put much energy in the development of systems of exchange without a currency (foremost barter, which look sympathetic but, when applied on a large scale, is altogether unpractical.[
?]^
5
^
6
 Or (presently) they go for crowd-funding —which makes sense—, while emphasizing that this is a form of non-monetary exchange —which is not true.
 
 Artists anyway can be said to have a problem with money and “money”. The fact that over the last hundred years many visual artists made artworks that involve money indicates this. Often paper money or the reproduction of paper money are part of work of arts. From *Warhol to *.*
7
→→
2
 (Velthuis, 2005b) 24-25. Given the various ways in which these people interpret the “hostility”, the phrase hostile worlds refers to more than just the supposed incompatibility at the level of the actual exchange of goods for money as opposed to other forms of exchange, a phenomenon which Zelizer * analyzed.,(She is known for her examination of hostile spheres.)
3
 (Klamer, 1996)
4
 “In Praise of Commercial Culture” is the title of a book by the economist Tyler Cowen —(Cowen, 1998).
5
 
[Give HERE in NOTE or in section gifts past examples of designed moneyless systems [ASK Olav]]
 
6
 Other than artists sometimes think: barter on a regular basis differs little from exchange in which a currency is used. See also s. *[=s “not for sale”]
7
 Cf. (Velthuis, 2005a)
 4
We now live in turbulent times. On the one hand there are successful and rich artists whose comments on money, “money” and the “world of money” or the “world of finance” are ironic and not critical, or the supposedly critical stance is insincere.
[HERE and/or in s covering up]
 An example is Hirst’s
For the love of God
 , a skull covered with diamonds worth $ 26 million is ironic and certainly not critical. On the other hand artworks —visual art, performances, books and movies— express worries about financial  practices in contemporary society.
 Often the works are activist and not naively idealistic; sometimes they are cynical, sometimes funny and often both.
{Also in s. sponsoring, s. hostile spheres and/or s. art serves decorative and recreational purposes SYNC}
For instance, in 2015 artists tossed large amounts of fake money  from the stairs of the Tate Modern museum in London to protest against the fact that the museum let itself be sponsored by BP, a company which is thought to white wash (or “artwash”) its ecologically detrimental activities by sponsoring art.
 The rejection of “commerce” also shows from a rejection of economics and the use of economic terms which would otherwise be hard to explain.
 During the last forty years I gave talks for established art lovers. Partly to provoke them and to make them “think”, I often used economic terms, like art consumer, art product and niche-market. I noticed that this is painful for art lovers. They also get irritated. (Art lovers can be very sensitive.) It happened twice that after having given a talk a listener approached me and asked if I was aware that I used these terms so often; and next told me that these terms do not befit art. I should not use them. For art lovers such terms bring art down. The reader of this book will by now have got used to the terms, but it is well possible that the first times he read them he as well experienced this as unpleasant.
1. Disapproval of Art being for Sale
 2
Part III REJECTION OF COMMERCE IN THE ARTS
[INTRO]
In the nineteenth century a process of de-commercialization accompanies the beginning of the art period. In spite of the fact that markets and commerce in the arts have clearly contributed to the triumph of art in art circles a rejection of commerce and commercialism becomes common. Whereas most art markets in the eighteenth century are overtly commerce-driven and the pursuit of profit comes first, now the a-commercial part of art worlds start to grow at the cost of the commercial part of art worlds. The majority of commerce-dedicated participants is expelled.*
1
 Signposts of the de-commercialization are the newly established nonprofit art institutions. Participation in the ever larger a-commercial part of art worlds is, however, not limited to people in nonprofits; also many people in *lawful for profits participate: foremost creative artists and people in for profit ensembles, but also dealers, people in small publishing houses and so forth. They all start to adhere to an art ethos. Nevertheless, closer examination learns that in the background behavior in the art-dedicated parts of art worlds is often guided by a more or less commercial logic, but this is veiled. Therefore art worlds are largely
a-commercial 
 (or anti-commercial) rather than non-commercial.
Presently, there is a process of re-commercialization going on and a commercial logic is becoming more important again in the arts. A commercial logic infiltrates the art ethos. Even the management of nonprofits are openly applying more commercial techniques and adapt a far more commercial logic. Cultural entrepreneurship among artists also exemplifies a re-commercialization. What is particularly striking is that the de facto re-commercialization is accepted by most art world participants. There is however a reaction. Among groups of artists, art lovers and art theorists the rejection of commerce in the arts is becoming stronger again. These groups represent what I shall call
the new critics of commerce
. Conservative new critics foremost oppose that artists become cultural entrepreneurs. And the leftist new critics, unlike the old, now also distrust large nonprofits and art world establishments. They also fear that present unregulated capitalism and thus neo-liberalism increasingly get a hold on the arts. We will come across this contemporary split in mindsets —a majority going along and some going against the re-commercialization of the arts— again and again in this part of the book. It is typical for the forthcoming end of the art period and the weakening or changing art ethos.
In these paragraphs I have used the term commerce, commercial and commercialization in a broad or metaphoric sense. Further down I will clarify the concepts and the ways they are used. This is the more necessary because in art worlds the discourse about commerce is often fuzzy. When criticizing commerce art world people tend to use the terms in different meanings often without being aware of this. Therefore it is often not clear what it exactly is that they criticize. Therefore I will use this part of the book also to disentangle the criticism. Reading old and new texts and listening during a period of 50 years to artists and to people working in nonprofits, it appears that there are three main groups of criticism. First, the very fact that art must be sold and so becomes commensurate is experienced as unwanted —this is the topic of the first chapter. Second, commercialism is rejected: artists must not market their art, they must not pursue profit in the form of money or non-financial rewards, and they must not compromise by pleasing consumers —this is the topic of the following chapter. And third, art world people worry about more general market forces in a market economy or more specifically the forces within a capitalist and neo-liberal economy —this is the topic of the last chapter.
1
 For the way the term art world is used in this book see **
 3
The worlds of art and money are thought to be hostile worlds.
 I use the remainder of this introduction to say more about this phenomenon, a phenomenon that matters for all three following chapters. In the art period the denunciation of commerce, markets (or
the 
 market) and commercialism are important symbols of membership in art worlds. Putting them down brings feelings of solidarity. This befits the a-commercial or anti-commercial nature of art worlds. In conversations the general praise of art almost always goes together with a rejection of commerce in the arts. This applies to conversations about art between artists in a local pub, between art lovers during an opening reception in a gallery as well as to that of construction workers during their lunch hour: “Art and money do not go together”, or “Money corrupts art”. It also happens that people raise their status within their own art circle by putting down commerce in the arts. This is what for instance directors of art institutions do when they exhibit a non-committal denunciation of commerce —and even more so when they succeed in combining it with an anti-capitalist stance. In such cases the terms money, commerce, markets,
the 
 market, commodity and commodification are often used in a metaphoric sense. For instance, whereas commerce in its proper economic sense refers to trade, in its metaphoric use it refers to far more than just trade: it can, for instance, also stand for a pursuit of profit or for the use of much marketing. Also terms like money, markets,
the 
 market, commodity and commodification are often used in a metaphoric sense. (In this book the sense in which the terms are used will usually be clear from the context. Otherwise I will make it clear, for instance by putting terms in between inverted commas when they are used in a metaphoric sense.) The notion that that the world of money and the world of art are hostile spheres and a belief that the former can harm art has to be taken seriously. It can be found not only among artists and art lovers, but also among eminent thinkers and critics like Georg Simmel, Max Weber, Arnold Hauser, Theodor  Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Peter Bürger and Robert Hughes.
2
 Also some economists, like Arjo Klamer, adhere to the notion.
3
 (But many economists disagree and sometimes explicitly “praise” an orientation on markets and a commercial culture, as for instance Tyler Cowen does.
4
) How loaded with negative value the things are that “money” stands for, shows from the evident confusion among some artists between real money and “money” as a concept symbolizing all sorts of evil, from commerce and the pursuit of profit to compromise, corruption, a market economy and capitalism. Otherwise it is hard to explain that all through the art period and most of all after the middle of the twentieth century artists come up with proposals that serve the goal of getting rid of money, and put much energy in the development of systems of exchange without a currency (foremost barter, which look sympathetic but, when applied on a large scale, is altogether unpractical.[
?]^
5
^
6
 Or (presently) they go for crowd-funding —which makes sense—, while emphasizing that this is a form of non-monetary exchange —which is not true.
 
 Artists anyway can be said to have a problem with money and “money”. The fact that over the last hundred years many visual artists made artworks that involve money indicates this. Often paper money or the reproduction of paper money are part of work of arts. From *Warhol to *.*
7
→→
2
 (Velthuis, 2005b) 24-25. Given the various ways in which these people interpret the “hostility”, the phrase hostile worlds refers to more than just the supposed incompatibility at the level of the actual exchange of goods for money as opposed to other forms of exchange, a phenomenon which Zelizer * analyzed.,(She is known for her examination of hostile spheres.)
3
 (Klamer, 1996)
4
 “In Praise of Commercial Culture” is the title of a book by the economist Tyler Cowen —(Cowen, 1998).
5
 
[Give HERE in NOTE or in section gifts past examples of designed moneyless systems [ASK Olav]]
 
6
 Other than artists sometimes think: barter on a regular basis differs little from exchange in which a currency is used. See also s. *[=s “not for sale”]
7
 Cf. (Velthuis, 2005a)
 4
We now live in turbulent times. On the one hand there are successful and rich artists whose comments on money, “money” and the “world of money” or the “world of finance” are ironic and not critical, or the supposedly critical stance is insincere.
[HERE and/or in s covering up]
 An example is Hirst’s
For the love of God
 , a skull covered with diamonds worth $ 26 million is ironic and certainly not critical. On the other hand artworks —visual art, performances, books and movies— express worries about financial  practices in contemporary society.
 Often the works are activist and not naively idealistic; sometimes they are cynical, sometimes funny and often both.
{Also in s. sponsoring, s. hostile spheres and/or s. art serves decorative and recreational purposes SYNC}
For instance, in 2015 artists tossed large amounts of fake money  from the stairs of the Tate Modern museum in London to protest against the fact that the museum let itself be sponsored by BP, a company which is thought to white wash (or “artwash”) its ecologically detrimental activities by sponsoring art.
 The rejection of “commerce” also shows from a rejection of economics and the use of economic terms which would otherwise be hard to explain.
 During the last forty years I gave talks for established art lovers. Partly to provoke them and to make them “think”, I often used economic terms, like art consumer, art product and niche-market. I noticed that this is painful for art lovers. They also get irritated. (Art lovers can be very sensitive.) It happened twice that after having given a talk a listener approached me and asked if I was aware that I used these terms so often; and next told me that these terms do not befit art. I should not use them. For art lovers such terms bring art down. The reader of this book will by now have got used to the terms, but it is well possible that the first times he read them he as well experienced this as unpleasant.
1. Disapproval of Art being for Sale
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