The History of Art & Money


For artists money has been thought of as the ultimate goal and the ultimate trap—the object of desire and disdain. What do the ambiguities and contradictions money confronts us with reveal about the history and development of art and culture? Can artists escape money’s all-conquering power? What can we learn from the great artists and thinkers on money? How can creative practitioners discuss money and financial resources as a source of inspiration that informs their careers? This course introduces students to the theoretical debates surrounding art and money to encourage an in-depth understanding of its theoretical perspectives and contemporary relevance.

Generally the seminars deal with art and money as vehicle for transactions: they interrogate how art became commodified and ask questions on the effects of commercial exchange. Positive and negative aspects of patronage or art as financial value are examined in terms of how art is consumed. The seminars also look at the history of art dealers, the public funding of art galleries and museums, the acquisition habits of collectors and the role art and money plays in supporting high culture and class distinction and taste. The seminars also examine the relationship between art and the market and how this has manifested itself in exhibition, distribution and collection practices and trends.  From Kant and Hume’s writings on aesthetics to the doctrines of modernism and beyond the course questions whether artistic practice can remain immune to economic concerns.

This course introduces students to:

  • Teaching in a range of themes related to art and money that draw on social theory, art criticism, archaeology, marketing, aesthetics, politics and other contemporary sources and critiques.
  • Ways to develop cognitive skills via discussion of question sets, debates on the meaning of quotations and works of art, interpretation of philosophical and sociological theories and other relevant approaches.
  • The importance of research for artistic practice and how this can be illuminated through a wide-ranging socio-historical perspective.
  • An emphasis on the idea of practice as research and art as a social critique and how to utilise and combine written sources.

The course aims to:

  • Introduce students to the theoretical debates surrounding the relationship between art and money and encourage an in-depth understanding and discussion of the historical and theoretical perspectives offered by a range of artists, critics, theorists and cultural commentators.
  • Enable the attainment of highly developed research and interpretation skills that encourages the student to comprehend the historical development of social and art theory and share and discuss this knowledge to their mutual advantage.
  • Provide a critical understanding and promote awareness and discussion of historical and contemporary forms of cultural and social theory related to the art economy.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the Student should have a thorough understanding of the course material and the relationship between art and money that is enhanced by a knowledge of a range of peer-reviewed journal articles. They should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a critical awareness of how ideas influence and shape culture and gain a practical insight into the relationships between money and the Art Market, the Art World and the Art Scene.
  • Evaluate theories and concepts relating to an understanding of the development of the ten themes in a sophisticated and coherent manner that critically compares and contrasts the different theoretical schools of thought that were presented.
  • Obtain the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to develop a deep knowledge of the relevant historical, theoretical and critical debates encompassed by the course; and to have achieved a high level of analytical thinking, the ability to work independently and in a team.


This page contains the files for the course which you can download and provides a brief summary of each of the sections (there are ten but we only do eight in the classes) and the bibliography for each section.

The History of Art and Money Course Document

1. Taste

2. Commodification

3. Price

4. Value

5. Funding


7. Worth

8. Patronage

9. Philanthropy

10. Luxury

1. Taste—The History of Art and Money

A starting point is made with a comparison between Damien Hirst and Larry Gagosian and Vincent van Gogh and his brother Theo is made throughout. Reference is made to Robert Hughes’ assessment of the effect of the Art Market on the quality of art. The seminar returns to discuss Taste with Vyacheslav Molotov’s phrase: “To the bourgeoisie, fascism is a matter of taste,” opened to debate. Diderot’s conception that morals are corrupted by the influence of money and that in turn this had corrupted the arts is explored through this question:” if morals are corrupt, do you believe that taste can remain pure?” The seminar then proceeds with:

• Dennis Diderot’s statements on taste and morals are reflected upon including the idea that commodified art has no value.

• Kant’s theory of taste as set out in Critique of Judgment, is briefly compared to Georg Simmel’s The Philosophy of Money with reference to Simmel on Rembrandt and art as a life philosophy and Simmel’s conception of the ‘perfect society’.

• A set of questions asks: has taste changed in the last 100 years? How does taste change? Do artists actively try to change people’s taste? Is art necessarily the product of refined and cultivated taste? The market fate of van Gogh’s ‘Portrait of Dr Gachet is discussed with some thought experiments imagining van Gogh’s views on contemporary Art World.

• To investigate the nature of Taste, David Hume’s writing on art criticism and how we judge art is discussed in some depth in terms of Hume’s sets of four claims on a standard of taste. This contrasted to Kant with Hume’s further claims introduced to reflect back on what has been stated so far. Hume’s ideas on general rules of art, composition, beauty and general principles of approval are introduced with Taste considered as socially produced through social interactions.

• Hume’s ideas on reasoning as either sound or defective are explored. Harold Rosenberg remarks on Beauty and the Sublime and the problem of how to be inspired with certainty are introduced to return to the comparison of Hirst and van Gogh.

• Van Gogh and Hirst are returned to in relation to with Hirst’s specific remarks on van Gogh and in relation to Eugenio Merino’s work. In conclusion the foregoing is contrasted with the writings of Arthur Rimbaud and his statement that: “In art, rebellion is consummated and perpetuated in the act of real creation, not in criticism or commentary.”

1. Taste: References

Brown, Mark (2012) ‘Damien Hirst credits Blue Peter with idea for his controversial spin paintings,’ Guardian, August 29, available at:

Hughes, Robert (2008) ‘Day of the Dead: Robert Hughes on Damien Hirst,’ Guardian, September 12, available at:

Kant, Immanuel (1790) Critique of Judgment, available at:

Rimbaud, Arthur (1966) Complete Works, Selected Letters, Chicago, University of Chicago.

Rosenberg, Harold (1975) ‘Metaphysical Feelings in Modern Art,’ Critical Inquiry, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Winter), pp. 217-232.

Plato (1973) Phaedrus, trans. and intro. Walter Hamilton, London: Penguin.

Simmel, Georg (1907) The Philosphy of Money, available at:

Simon, Julia (1995) ‘Diderot’s Art Criticism,’ pp. 147-169, in Mass Enlightenment: Critical Studies in Rousseau and Diderot, State university of New York.

Van Gogh Museum (2010) ‘Biographical & historical context: The financial backgrounds,’ available at:

Winkelman, Edward (2009) The Ups and Downs of Becoming a Symbol of Your Era, February 20, available at:


2. Commodification—The People versus the 

Corporate Cool Machine

Bill Hicks’ controversial statements on advertising and marketing are introduced and returned to throughout to ask was Hicks right or should artists embrace marketing? The concept of consumer culture and Horkheimer and Adorno’s term the ‘culture industries’ are explained including the techniques for rationalising culture as a commodity to ask how we should we understand this as artists. The seminar then proceeds with:

• Processes of commodification are contrasted with Edward Said’s Orientalists with the idea of ‘the Nation’ presented as a brand. Museums are presented as political in that they can validate social claims and legitimise relations of power, and also be agents of social change.

• The role of the museum and the ‘Spectacle’ of visual culture are discussed in relation to the cultural structuring of consumption: the spectacle is described as an attempt to mediate how we interact as social beings. Reference is made to the work of Christopher Lasch and Guy Debord is introduced and contrasted with the idea of commodity fetishism briefly introduced.

• Herbert Marcuse is introduced in relation to the criticism of mass-mediated culture together with J. K. Galbraith’s idea of the affluent society both are contrasted with Lasch’s idea of a new cognitive elite comprised of ‘symbolic analysts.’ Simple pragmatic questions such as ‘how do you make money and manage to carry on making art?’ are raised.

• The relevance of branding to processes of commodification is introduced; the historical development of marketing is outlined in some depth to draw on themes such as authenticity and how socially valued cultural content is passed through branded goods. Four techniques that create the perception that brands provide consumers with original cultural resources are outlined: (1) Ironic, Reflexive Brand Persona (2) Coat-tailing on Cultural Epicenters (3) Life World Emplacement (4) Stealth Branding. This explores the positioning of brands as concrete expressions of valued social and moral ideals.

• Questions are posed as to whether brands have become another form of expressive culture indistinguishable from art? Marx’ distinction between use value and exchange value is made along with Benjamin’s theory of aura and Alan Sokal & Jean Bricmont’s critique of postmodern cultural studies.

• Adorno and Horkheimer are referred to in relation to Diderot and the previous theme ‘Taste’. What Marx meant by commodity fetishism is outlined in terms of five key stages: (1) The domination of things (2) Objectified value (3) Naturalisation of market behaviour (4) Masking (5) The opacity of economic relations. These are contrasted with the marketing techniques above.

• A question set concerning domain and value assumptions is presented: (1) Are aesthetic value separate from moral and other values? (2) Is aesthetic value superior to moral or other values? (3) Are moral qualities irrelevant to the evaluation of an art work? (4) Is the aesthetic the domain of the disinterested, distanced involving a special attitude and expertise? (5) Does art develop along its own lines autonomous of the market?

• The conclusion leads into a discussion of the economics of the Art World and the changing investment strategies in financial markets. This outlines a movement from the Commodification of art, the Corporatization, the Financialization of art and the Securitisation of art. The students are asked to assess the relevance of what was once called the Saatchi effect and give their opinion on Hick’s statement.

2. Commodification: References

Benjamin, Walter (1936) The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, available at:

Debord, Guy (1967) The Society of the Spectacle, NewYork, Zone.

Galbraith, John. K. (1958) The Affluent Society, New York. Houghton Mifflin Company.

Holt, Douglas B. (2002) ‘Why Do Brands Cause Trouble? A Dialectical Theory of Consumer Culture and Branding,’ Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 29, No. 1, June, pp. 70-90.

Lasch, Christopher (1991) ‘The culture of narcissism American life in an age of diminishing expectations,’ New York, W.W. Norton.

Marx, Karl (1990) Capital, London, Penguin Classics.

Naomi Klein’s (1999) No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies, London, Picador.

Said, Edward (1977) Orientalism, London, Penguin.

Sokal, Alan & Bricmont, Jean (1996) ‘Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity,’ Social Text, Vol. 46, No. 47, pp. 217-252, available at:

Taylor, Mark C. (2011) ‘The Financialization of Art,’ Capitalism and Society, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 1-19, available at


3. Price—Art Appreciation: The value of nothing

trapped in a room

The question ‘do artists share the values of the market place?’ runs through the discussion that is initially informed by Andy Warhol’s statement “I like money on the wall…” Adam Smith’s observations that the Art Market was an exception that went beyond the limits of their theories is also considered together with recent sociological analysis of the anomalies of the price mechanism in the market for contemporary art. The seminar then proceeds with:

• A 2007 magazine article ‘Has Money Ruined Art’ is outlined including its reference to Sotheby’s and Christie’s whose role is examined throughout; the Art Market’s effects on the critical reception of Martin Eder and Marlene Dumas is opened for discussion and the question posed: Are the forces turning New York into a giant mercantile exchange too great to overcome?”

• Studies that investigated the impact of equity markets and top incomes on art prices are introduced and their findings summarized in terms of the price appreciation of art and the returns on financial assets, including ideas such as the “luxury consumption hypothesis” and the “masterpiece effect.”

• The anomalies of low incomes in the arts in contrast with the high value art can achieve are explored via the economist Hans Abbing’s ‘The Exceptional Economy of the Arts.’ Abbing’s work is outlined in depth with the critique that it represents a Malthusian approach advanced. This is located historical and its contemporary manifestations explained.

• Price is viewed as a kind of language related to the language of marketing. The most expensive paintings in the world are examined in terms of ownership and auction price and related to Harold Lasswell’s famous mapping sentence for the study of politics. This also takes into account the problem of uncertainty the buyers of contemporary art face.

• The idea of the conferring of reputation to determine price by experts in the art field is discussed in relation to four aspects of Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital: (1) Economic capital (2) Social capital (3) Cultural capital (4) Symbolic capital. These are also related to qualitative studies on the quite specific cultural scripts gallery owners follow in their pricing decisions.

• Mark Rothko’s experience with the Art Market is developed in relation to the Marlborough Gallery’s approach to art sales in New York to shift attention to the price artists pay in their personal lives.

• Sotheby’s price fixing in collusion with Christie’s is outlined and Warhol’s statements are returned to be re-examined in the light of the above.

3. Price: References

Abbing, Hans (2002) Why are Artists Poor? The Exceptional Economy of the Arts, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, available at: Hans

Beckert, Jens & Rössel, Jörg (2013) ‘The Price of Art,’ European Societies, available at:

Click to access 2013_%20Beckert_Roessel_The%20Price%20for%20Art_European%20Societies.pdf

Fowler, Brigit (1999) ‘Pierre Bourdieu’s sociological theory of culture,’ Variant, No 8, Vol. 2, available at:

Davis, Ben (2012) ‘Should we let more artists starve so some can succeed,’ Blouin Artinfo, available at:

Goetzmann, William N.; Renneboog, Luc & Spaenjers, Christophe (2011) ‘Art and Money,’ American Economic Review, American Economic Association, May, Vol. 3, No.101, pp. 222-26, available at:

Graddy, Kathryn & Ashenfelter, Orley (2004) ‘Anatomy of The Rise And Fall of a Price- Fixing Conspiracy: Auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s,’ Journal of Competition Law and Economics, Vol. 1, No.1, pp. 3-20, available at:

Click to access ashenfeltersothebychristie.pdf

Saltz, Gerry (2007) ‘Has Money Ruined Art,’ New York Magazine, October 7, available at:

 Olav (2003) ‘Symbolic Meanings of Prices: Constructing the Value of Contemporary Art in Amsterdam and New York Galleries,’ Theory and Society, Vol. 32, No. 2, pp. 181-215.

Osborn, Andrew (2002) ‘Sotheby’s fined £13m for price-fixing scandal with Christie’s,’ Guardian, October 31, available at:

Titian Sacred Profane - Copy (9)

4. Value—the profanely sacred

The transference of value and the different forms money can take are problematised. The established and the ‘intrinsic’ value of art is discussed in terms of Picasso’s ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’. Different approaches to value are discussed and the example of Andre Breton’s devotion to ‘Le cerveau de l’enfant’ by Giorgio de Chirico. The process of valuation is outlined as dialectical. The seminar then proceeds with:

• The fifteenth-century burning of objects that were deemed to be sinful is developed with the Renaissance presented as a rediscovery of the humanist values of previous eras. The Renaissance’s ‘sacralizing the secular’ is interpreted as the origins of modernity.

• Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s ‘Syncretist’ approach is outlined in some detail in relation to his ‘Oration on the Dignity of Man’; Pico is presented as typifying the ‘Laurentian Moment’ of the Renaissance in his combining of different, often seemingly contradictory philosophical values is highlighted, returning to the Surrealist’s via De Chirico.

• The conceptualization of art as a category set off from other forms of production, one that is based on a cultural significance assumed to extend well beyond monetary value, is located in Aesthetic theory in Germany. The question is asked: what made complex representational systems possible, desirable, useful i.e. valuable?

• Drawing on archeological and ethnographic studies an outline of how particular images, objects, materials, colours, forms, and textures came to have value and to carry meaning within social and symbolic contexts is made in terms of: (a) Selection and procurement of raw materials (b) Transformation of these into conventional forms via a set of techniques and relations of production (c) The exchange/display/use of the finished objects. Types of metaphor are outlined as Metonymy and Synecdoche in relation to art’s value as a material metaphor.

• Questions are posed as to what the connections between commercial, critical value and alienation might be. Robert Hughes’ statements on the twin figures of the art impresario and the art star, performing for a large audience are opened to questions relating how ‘commercial value’ and ‘critical value’ is assigned in the art market. The questions posed include: ‘what is the Art Market? How did it come to be?’ Contrasts are made between William Blake, Titian, Bernini, Piero della Francesca, or Poussin in relation to interpreting Hughes’ contention that “On the whole, money does artists much more good than harm”.

• The interaction of the Art Scene, Art World and Art Market are discussed with the contention that at present the Art World is dominated by the Art Market. Statements by Irving Sandler, an 87-year-old art critic, are presented in relation to this with a call to focus attention away from market-oriented art. This is contrasted with Allan Kaprow’s announcement of the end of bohemia in his 1964 essay ‘The Artist as a Man of the World,’ and Magda Sawon, owner of Chelsea’s Postmasters Gallery’s statements on the market effect on radicality.

• The combination of academicization and marketization is advanced as producing contradictory strains on artists that they have found largely unresolvable. Pico’s abandoned project is returned to with a resonance identified in Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht’s planned journal Crisis and Criticism.

• Sociopolitical critiques, such as Hughes’ are outlined as including challenges to received opinions. The last word is given to P. T. Barnum, author of ‘The Art of Money Getting or, Golden Rules for Making Money.’

4. Value: References

Barnum, Phineas. T. (1880) The Art of Money Getting or, Golden Rules for Making Money, available at:

Breton, Andre (1997) An Anthology of Black Humour, London, Penguin.

Buskirk, Martha (2012) Creative Enterprise: Contemporary Art between Museum and Marketplace, New York, Continuum Press.

Gosselin, Edward A. (2001) ‘Syncretism in the West: Pico’s 900 Theses (1486) by S. A. Farmer,’ The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 32, No. 4, pp. 1194-1195.

Hughes, Robert (1984) ‘Art & Money,’ New Art Examiner, October & November, available at: history of money

Hughes, Robert (2009) ‘Interview with Alberto Mugrabi,’ available at:

Kaprow, Alan (1964) ‘The Artist as Man of the World,’ in Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life, pp. 46-59, California, University of California Press, available at:

Nisbet, R. (1969) Social Change and History: Aspects of the Western Theory of Development, London, Oxford University Press.

Pico della Mirandola, Giovanni (1486) Oration on the Dignity of Man, available at:

Rosler, Martha (1997) ‘Money, power, contemporary art—Money, Power, and the History of Art,’ The Art Bulletin, March, available at:

Click to access ROSLER.Moneypower.MYmarkup..pdf

Viveros-Faune, Christian (2013) How Uptown Money kills Downtown Art,’ Village Voice, February 6, available at:

White, Randall (1992) ‘Beyond Art: Toward an Understanding of the Origins of Material Representation in Europe,’ Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 21, pp. 537-556.


5. Funding —‘the labyrinth of means’

John Maynard Keynes’ vision for the Arts Council in that: ‘Economists are the trustees not of civilization, but of the possibility of civilization,’ is presented together with the influence of Keynesian economics and the challenges posed by other socio-economic models. The sources of funding for arts organisations in the UK are briefly outlined and the declining levels of subsidies highlighted. The question is asked is Keynes dream still alive? The seminar then proceeds with:

• A review of state support of artists is considered and contextualized with a history of the development of the Arts Council together with a politicization of the arts at odds with the ‘arms length’ principle to assert that many of the tensions that exist within today’s Arts Council were institutionalized in its early days.

• Simmel is quoted in relation to the ‘labyrinth of means’ to aid a discussion of what the ‘ultimate goal’ of cultural funding is. Forms of cultural creation that do not accord with ‘market logic’ are problematised.

• Keynes’ own influences are set out as stemming from the Bloomsbury Group’s sense of experimentation, and their willingness to take action to create new institutions. This highlights some of the theoretical stances of Fry and Bell and their distrust of the bureaucratization of the arts and the values these artists stood for including: pacifism, feminism, friendship, creativity, freedom of expression and reason.

• A range of issues relevant to funding are outlined broadly connected to the use of art for propagandistic reasons: in particular the media response to controversy is explored through the cases of Andres Serrano and Chris Ofili’s reception. A critique is offered in relation to how specific types of discussion of particular works of art engenders a moral panic, and how this ignores the vast majority of art works and institutions to focus on a widespread attack on funding per se that leads to a collective punishment.

• The role of the National Endowment for the Arts is explored in the context of in-depth studies of the tradition of pluralistic funding of the arts that outline a partnership between individuals, the government, local governments, foundations, businesses, and corporations. That the arts provides tools for economic development and social stability is opened for discussion together with an examination of the most important predictors of opposition to arts funding in terms of specific variables.

• An understanding of Public funding in contrast to Corporate funding is made and an analysis of the reasons why big business gives are set out in terms of ‘advertisers’ and ‘legitimators’. To conclude three approaches and models are established: Market, Welfare and Nationalist. The tendency to encourage popular arts ventures over genuinely innovative ones is explored with open questions made as to how the system could be reformed.

5. Funding: References

Alexander, Victoria D. (2007) ‘State Support of Artists: The Case of the United Kingdom in a New Labour Environment and Beyond,’ The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, Vol. 37, No. 3, pp.185-200, available at:

Bell, Clive (1920) ‘Art and politics I,’ Athenaeum, November 5.

Brooks, Arthur C. (2001) Who Opposes Government Arts Funding? Public Choice, Vol. 108, No. 3/4, pp. 355-367.

House of Commons (2011) ‘Funding of the Arts,’ Funding of the Arts and Heritage—Culture, Media and Sport Committee, March 28, available at:

Keynes, John M (1982) The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, Vol. 28, Macmillan Press, London.

Lewis, Gregory B. & Brooks, Arthur C. (2005) ‘A Question of Morality: Artists’ Values and Public Funding for the Arts,’ Public Administration Review, Vol. 65, No. 1, pp. 8-17.

Marcuse, Herbert (1969) ‘Repressive Tolerance,’ in A Critique of Pure Tolerance, Boston, Beacon Press, pp. 95-137, available at:

McCormack, Thelma (1984) ‘Culture and the State,’ Canadian Public Policy / Analyse de Politiques, Vol. 10, No. 3, September, pp. 267-277.

Moir, Lance & Taffler, Richard J. (2004) ‘Does Corporate Philanthropy Exist?: Business Giving to the Arts in the U.K,’ Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 54, No. 2, October, pp. 149-161.

Stewart, Simon (2011) ‘Cuts, Culture and the Labyrinth of Means,’ The Books Journal, No. 8, pp. 82-87, available at:,141214,en.pdf

Simmel, Georg (1978) The Philosophy of Money, New York, Routledge.

Upchurch, Anna (2004) ‘John Maynard Keynes, the Bloomsbury Group and the Origins of the Arts Council Movement,’ International Journal of Cultural Policy, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp 203-217.


6. Poverty—Bohemian Rhapsody: irony and ideal

The Misanthrope (1568) by Bruegel and its inscription ‘Because the world is perfidious, I am going into mourning’ is presented for interpretation and discussion. Renaissance art’s treatment of poverty is set out as an example of how the past can be brought to bear on the problems of the present. Essentialist arguments on poverty such as Herbert Spencer’s are introduced and contrasted with Albert Camus’ experience. The argument that Art has always seen a more redemptive ‘purpose’ in poverty is made. The seminar then proceeds with:

• The process of the development of sixteenth-century ‘Beggar Imagery’ is set out with observations on the beggar image used to challenge the predominant cultural discourses that appeared to circumscribe its meaning. Images of the ‘false beggar’ as a disenchanted and secularised image saw shift from ‘Prodigal Sons’ to false tricksters who manipulate innocent almsgivers for monetary gain begins to gain ground.

• The Arts Council of Wales’ (2011) statement that they are: “putting the arts at the centre of Government strategies to tackle child poverty” is opened up for questioning in terms of issues such as accessibility and exclusion. Other organisations such as the activities of the Irish National Economic & Social Council are brought to bear to inform the debate.

• Themes such as “inclusive capitalism‚” “compassionate capitalism‚” “virtuous capitalism,” “social capitalism‚” and the all-encompassing “enlightened capitalism” are opened up for scrutiny in the light of Schwittay’s focus on the ‘Marketization of Poverty’ and Prahalad’s on ‘The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid.’ Reviews of the arts that measure the economic and social impact of the arts are set out for examination.

• The work of the Arte Povera group is examined to introduce the idea of the ‘Bohemian’ i.e. that poverty becomes some sort of self-imposed exile. Several artists and writers who have demonstrated a profound disaffiliation with materialism are outlined.

• The history of portrayals of poverty are returned to including the production of the stereotype of a ragged man chased by a dog—the central motif in two of Bosch’s works.

• Thoreau’s rhetorical use of the concept of Poverty in Walden is examined leading to Thoreau’s attempts to give Poverty a positive, creative meaning that distinguishes between “savageness,” “poverty” and “philosophy.”

• Albert Camus’ approach to the understanding of poverty from the viewpoint of both an internal and an external witness is set out in some depth. Here poverty was viewed as one of the initial and most fundamental influences upon his awareness of the world. Following Camus, poverty is outlined as a moral and political crime against humanity and a product of the ignorance and indifference of society towards the fate of the poor. The value of Camus’ statements are opened up to discussion with a focus on the responsibilities of the artist.

• The conclusion is a brief outline of one of the most haunting works that dealt with poverty: Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal’ and use of paralipsis and proslepsis where writer brings up a subject by denying that it should be brought up is outlined. This is contrasted to the Arts Council of Wales’ approach.

6. Poverty: References

Arts Council of Wales (2011) ‘Child Poverty and the Arts Agenda—Improving access: A Companion Document to Young Creators,’ available at:

Combat Poverty Agency (1997) Poverty: Access and Participation in the Arts : Report of a Working Group on Poverty: Access and Participation in the Arts, The Arts Council.

Letemendia, V. C. (1997) ‘Poverty in the Writings of Albert Camus,’ Polity, Vol. 29, No. 3, Spring, pp. 441-460.

Lipton, Lawrence (1956) ‘Disaffiliation and the Art of Poverty,’ Chicago Review, Vol. 10, No. 1, Spring, pp. 53-79.

Nichols, Thomas (2007) The Art of Poverty: irony and ideal in sixteenth-Century Beggar Imagery, Manchester University Press.

Prahalad, C. K. (2006) The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, New Jersey, Pearson Prentice Hall.

Reeves, Michelle (2002) ‘Measuring the economic and social impact of the arts: a review,’ Research Report 24, Arts Council, available at:

Schwittay, Anke (2011) ‘The Marketization of Poverty: with CA comment by Krista Badiane and David Berdish,’ Current Anthropology, Vol. 52, No. 3, Corporate Lives: New Perspectives on the Social Life of the Corporate Form: Edited by Damani J. Partridge, Marina Welker, and Rebecca Hardin (Supplement to April 2011), pp. 71-82, available at:

Sullivan, Margaret A. (1992) ‘Bruegel’s “Misanthrope”: Renaissance Art for a Humanist Audience,’Artibus et Historiae, Vol. 13, No. 26, pp. 143-162.

Swift, Johnathan (1729) ‘A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick,’ available at:

Tuttle, Virginia G. (1981) ‘Bosch’s Image of Poverty,’ The Art Bulletin, Vol. 63, No. 1, March, pp. 88-95.


7. Worth—Relevant Pretension Areas: Comedie


Kurt Vonnegut’s short humorous story (once a year on another planet the government use a kind of roulette wheel to decide what to put in art galleries) is introduced along with similar 1970s criticism from Harold Rosenberg and Tom Wolfe. These are contrasted to the work of Balzac to focus on various debates that pose questions as to ‘how is the worth of art determined?’ throughout. The seminar then proceeds with:

• The work of Mills (1961) in terms of understanding Worth and how our experience is itself selected by stereotyped meanings and shaped by ready-made interpretations. Art is viewed as part of a cultural apparatus whereby symbols focus experience; meanings organize knowledge and they guide the surface perceptions of “an instant no less than the aspirations of a lifetime.”

• The term the ‘Establishment’ is introduced to point towards the overlap of culture and authority. Worth is seen in connection to prestige and esteem and connected to how ‘the climate of opinion’ refers to the points of national reference for the producers, consumers and the products of art.

• Worth is then viewed in relation to social conflict and a history of artists attacking each other’s worth is offered using examples of insults made by Warhol, Bacon, Poussin, Courbet and others on other artists. The question is posed: does competition make better art?

• The problems of self-worth and self esteem are examined through William James’ (1890) ‘The Principles of Psychology,’ whereby: ‘Self-esteem = Success ÷ Pretensions.’ This is explored in some detail to focus on the perception of the attainment of goals.

• Studies that provided documentary evidence to show that the ‘meteoric’ success of Jackson Pollock was not due to a coherent aesthetic evaluation by the New York Art World are examined. Three models of artistic success are problematised: (1) The model of aesthetic appraisal (2) The model of social influence and (3) The model of cultural persuasion. Tom Wolfe’s ‘The Painted Word’ is returned to as an aid to question the rhetoric of art criticism providing a justification of the worth of art.

• Michael Young’s (1958) ‘The Rise of the Meritocracy,’ is explained as a satirical polemic about the British education system that was largely misunderstood. The question What did people see in the concept of a ‘Meritocracy’? is posed.

• The sociology of culture is examined in terms of three main factors that might explain the public acceptance of a cultural product: (1) The grounding of artistic worth in a legitimating ideology. (2) The institutionalization of resources and practices of production and consumption by members within the art world. (3) The changing opportunity space brought about by social change outside the art world. These are compared to the three models of artistic success above, elaborated upon and opened up for debate.

• The temporal side of art: the transient materiality in contemporary cultural artifacts is examined in terms of Baudelaire’s (1863) determination of worth as including: originality, modesty, a lack of need for approval, a desire to be anonymous, a lack of ulterior motives and an obsession with a world of images. This is opened up to encapsulate the dilemma of modern cultural production.

• To conclude, a Joseph Beuys debate with two professors of Financial Sciences and Political Economics and a Banker on the theme ‘What is Money,’ is briefly outlined and key statements opened up for debate.

7. Worth: References

Baudelaire, Charles (1863) The Painter of Modern Life, Phaidon Press, available at:

Baumann, Shyon (2001) ‘Intellectualization and Art World Development: Film in the United States,’ American Sociological Review, Vol. 66, No. 3, June, pp. 404-426.

Beuys, Joseph (2012) ‘Money as a Democratic Document,’ available at:

Eldrige, Alana K. (2009) ‘Inscriptive Masculinity in Balzac’s Comédie Humaine,’ Theses, Dissertations, Student Research: Modern Languages and Literatures. Paper 6, available at:

Flint, Kate (1983) ‘Moral Judgement and the Language of English Art Criticism 1870-1910.’ Oxford Art Journal, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 59-66.

Galperina, Marina (2011) ‘The 30 Harshest Artist-on-Artist Insults In History,’ August 29, Flavourwire, available at:

James, William (1890) ‘The Principles of Psychology,’ available at:

Mills, C. Wright (1959) ‘The Cultural Apparatus,’ lectures in the UK, at the LSE, later reprinted in the The Listener, available at:

Mulkay, Michael & Chaplin, Elizabeth (1982) ‘Aesthetics and the Artistic Career: A Study of Anomie in Fine-Art Painting,’ The Sociological Quarterly, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 117-138.

Rosenberg, Harold (1975) ‘Adding Up: The Reign of the Art Market,’ in Art on the Edge: Creators and Situations, New York: Macmillan.

Sandino, Linda (2004) ‘Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: Transient Materiality in Contemporary Cultural Artefacts,’ Journal of Design History, Vol. 17, No. 3, ‘Dangerous Liaisons: Relationships between Design, Craft and Art,’ pp. 283-293.

Vonnegut, Kurt (1973) Breakfast of Champions, Dial Books.

Wolfe, Tom (1975) The Painted Word, London, Picador.

Young, Michael (1958) The Rise of the Meritocracy, London, Thames & Hudson.


8. Patronage—dreams that money can buy

Orson Welles’ Harry Lime speech from The Third Man is used to illustrate and test the dichotomy that culture thrives on conflict and antagonism and not on social harmony. The general theme contrasting how art has been fostered and nurtured and yet misunderstood and considered dangerous runs through an exploration of the complexities of patronage. The seminar then proceeds with:

• The career of Da Vinci Leonardo from the guild system to his own abandonment of art is outlined to examine the effects of patronage in financial and artistic terms. Da Vinci’s remark that: “From Patron you first get flattery, then hard work, then ingratitude and recriminations” is used to asked: if art relies on funding, what constraints are put upon it?

• Dr. Johnson’s announcement of the decline of the literary patron leads into an examination of the effects of social change whereby Victorian commissions that did not come from the Church, State, or Aristocracy but from Merchants and Manufacturers.

• The socio-economic changes brought about by the early ‘art galleries’ in Bond Street, in the 1870s are discussed including the emergence of Turner’s private gallery and the rise of the Museum and their effects on patronage.

• The rise of patronage is linked to social change in Beethoven’s late eighteenth-century Vienna. This focuses on elite receptivity to a new ideology against a backdrop of change in the organizational basis of sponsorship. Questions are posed as to whether aristocratic and exclusive models of culture have changed or become obsolete. The range of questions that began to inform the post World War II art school students, the first such group to include a substantial number of people from working and lower-middle-class homes are raised.

• A detailed contrast is made between two approaches to Patronage: Katherine S. Dreier (who spent all the money she inherited in supporting modern art in the US and was a key a patron of Duchamp) and Raymond Roussel’s (who spent all his money on himself and on his own writing and plays). Dreier’s influence ranges over the ‘The Big Show’ held at the Grand Central Palace in New York in 1917, the creation of the Société Anonyme and the International Exhibition of Modern Art at the Brooklyn Museum in 1926. Roussel inspired Michel Foucault’s (1957) ‘Death and the Labyrinth’ and Roussel’s lavishly published volumes included La Vue (1903), Impressions d’Afrique (1909) and then Locus Solus (1914), his even more lavishly expensive performances of his books eventually bankrupted him. the students are invited to speculate on what they would do as a millionaire Patron.

• Patronage is contextualised historically as an essential feature of the Salon, with figures such as Madame Helvétius under who’s influence the ideological movement was born with Condillac, Diderot, D’ Alembert and Benjamin Franklin in attendance. The rococo salon is presented as the common meeting ground and a woman’s kingdom and as an attempt to mold the literary world and public opinion and assist the birth of new ideas by stimulating authors.

8. Patronage: References

Clark, William (2001) ‘Katherine Dreier and the Société Anonyme,’ Variant, No. 14, available at:

Clark, William (2002) ‘A Lovely Curiousity, Raymond Roussel,’ Variant, No. 15,

available at:

Macleod, Dianne S. (1989) ‘Private and Public Patronage in Victorian Newcastle,’

Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, Vol. 52, pp. 188-208.

Richter, Hans (1947) Dreams That Money can Buy, Films International of America, available at:

Reed, Carol (1949) The Third Man, London Film Productions, available at:

Wood, Christopher (1983) Olympian Dreamers: Victorian Classical Painters, 1860-1914, London, Constable.

DeNora, Tia (1991) ‘Musical Patronage and Social Change in Beethoven’s Vienna,’ American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 97, No. 2, pp. 310-346.

9. Philanthropy—love and money

Philanthropy seems to bring together love and money with its desire to promote the welfare of others by the generous donation of money to good causes: but is it as simple as that? Philanthropy is presented as not just giving away money but more as an attempt to shape society, often in a utopian way. The meaning of money and the way in which it is used are outlined as shaped by social and cultural contexts with different categories of money differentially imbued with emotion. The seminar then proceeds with:

• Georg Simmel’s statement that money are examined and Philanthropy is presented as an indicator of cultural status and the personal identity of the wealthy; and also, as an alternative to taxation, as an alternative form of social intervention: here the wealthy readily acknowledge their distinctive command of a disproportionate amount of resources and this fortifies their social mission.

• The history of philanthropy in centres of civilisation, such as ancient Athens or ancient Jerusalem are briefly explored in terms of their consideration of the poor. The contemporary reception of Jean-Francois Millet’s The Gleaners in 1857 is commented upon. Questions are raised as to what are the motives and ideologies that animate philanthropy.

• The role of the Church whereby Philanthropy becomes a ‘sacralized frame of giving’ is described with monetary giving conceptualized as a way to participate in the sacred. The consequences of this culture of charity in early Christianity are related to the culture of ‘pauperism’: a vested dishonour inscribed in the Elizabethan Poor Laws and the Charity Act of 1601.

• The Western response to the presence of the poor is typified as the rationalization of poverty, and outlined in some depth with seven points. This is initially traced back to the Reformation and how the rationality behind charity, its scope, was altered as a result of the ‘Protestant ethos’.

• The industrial revolution and the new bourgeoise are presented as bringing new values and tastes that took a more intrusive attitude towards the philanthropically funded art work. This shift towards shrewd businessmen engaged in proprietal interference is concerned about the wisdom and risks and returns on their investment. The subsequent effect on style is contextualised by returning to Millet’s and Realism’s rejection in favour of more decorative work.

• Thinkers such as Charles Fourier and Robert Owen are presented as Utopian visionaries through the optic of William Morris’ observations. Both examples are explored in some detail and contrasted with Marx’s critical observations on their humanitarian-philanthropic socialism.

• The role of Christianity and the Protestant faith in terms of the stewarding of their wealth to use part of it for the benefit of others is returned to via Carnegie’s “Wealth” of 1889 and the ‘Gospel of Wealth’ of 1906 with an examination of their contradictory pragmatic secularism. Simmel’s remarks on the purpose of giving as the mitigation of certain extreme manifestations of social differentiation so that the social structure may continue is posited. Carnegie’s role in industrial strife is related to ways of staving off socialism.

• The difficulties for captains of industry, such as Rockefeller, are explored in terms of the rise of public relations and its relationship to philanthropy. Questions are asked concerning corporate philanthropy towards the cultural sector as to whether this is related to support of the arts as an attractive way for Business to present themselves in a positive light to the public. The work of Edward Bernays is highlighted with the example of the 1929 ‘Torches of Freedom March’.

• The emergence of the philanthropic foundation as the institutional embodiment of philanthropy is discussed in terms of the impact of foundation philanthropy on art and culture. This is traced to the development of contemporary institutions such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the George Soros Foundation and the Hewlett and Packard Foundations. The management strategies of the large right wing Foundations are seen to have led to ‘venture philanthropy’ “social entrepreneurism,” “strategic philanthropy,” “social venture philanthropy”, “the new philanthropy,” or “e-philanthropy” and other terms that are opened to question in terms of what problems the adoption of these techniques pose.

• Drawing on Gan (2006) the vulnerability to public scrutiny is set out as a driver of corporate philanthropy. The conclusion looks at US corporation’s donations of $13.5 billion that benefited education, health care and the arts with the question how else would we like corporations to behave better?

• The motives and ideologies that animate philanthropy are returned to with Oscar Wilde’s idea of art as the fulfillment of human potential is opened up for discussion in the context of many arts organisations across the UK feeling the squeeze as their public subsidies are cut.

9. Philanthropy: References

Bates, Don (2002) “Mini-Me” History: Public Relations from the Dawn of Civilization, Institute for Public Relations, available at:

Draper, Hal (1971) ‘The Principle of
Self-Emancipation in Marx and Engels,’ Socialist Register, pp. 81-109, available at:

Feingold, Mordechai (1987) ‘Philanthropy, Pomp, and Patronage: Historical Reflections upon the Endowment of Culture,’ Daedalus, Vol. 116, No. 1, pp. 155-178.

Gan, Ailian (2006) ‘The Impact of Public Scrutiny on Corporate Philanthropy,’ Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 69, No. 3, pp. 217-236.

Ginsburgh, Victor & Throsby, David, eds. (2006) The Handbook of the Economics of Art and Culture, Princeton University, available at:

Jackson, William J. (2010) ‘Seven Myths of Philanthropy: Seven Opportunities in Understanding,’ Conversations on Philanthropy, No. 7, pp. 25-42, available at:

Joseph, Miranda (2002) Against the romance of Community, University of Minnesota press.

Morris, William (1886) ‘Socialism From The Root Up – Chapter 13 – The Utopists: Owen, Saint Simon, and Fourier,’ Commonweal, Volume 2, Number 42, 30 October, pp. 242-243, available at:

Nuttall, Jeff (1968) Bomb Culture, London, Penguin.

Simmel, Georg (1982) The Philosophy of Money, trans. Tom David Frisby, London, Routledge.

Walter, E. V. (1973) ‘Pauperism and Illth: An Archaeology of Social Policy,’ Sociological Analysis, Vol. 34, No. 4, pp. 239-254

Youngs, Ian (2011) ‘Can philanthropy bail out the arts?’ BBC News, March 23, available at:


10. Luxury—Morals meet Economics

Luxury is described as deriving from luxus meaning excess, with its modern useage denoting a desirable item that is expensive or difficult to get, or as a pleasure obtained only rarely. This focus is on debates around trying to resolve the tension between a moral and an economic justification and understanding of luxury and necessity. The seminar then proceeds with:

• How the cargo of a fourteenth-century BC shipwreck helps to illustrate how the elite-oriented conception of luxury goods has changed. The example of the pomegranate’s symbolic associations with life and death across time and space is outlined by its presence in a range of art works from different periods. This is combined with how the production of luxury also includes the phenomenon of ‘art infusion,’ the presence of visual art to induce favourable influences on the evaluation of consumer products.

• Adam Smith’s (1759) definition of luxuries as all things that are not necessities is explored in terms of how, for Smith, our needs are so many weaknesses: luxurious expenditure is culpable, for it wrongs the poor.

• How domesticated plants and animals constituted forms of wealth that were primarily or exclusively used in feasting contexts is examined. i.e. foods that were once luxury items often become banal mundane staples. Questions are asked as to whether we are defined by the way we live, by what we make or by what we consume.

• The definition of Luxury is shown to have a tendency to divide it between ‘barbaric-esthetic’ and ‘civilized-utilitarian.’ That this involves the apprehension and advancement of knowledge and the apprehension and production of beauty as effectively representing the progress of culture is problematised.

• A focus on Luxury as having a moral as well as an economic interpretation begins to question war as the twin brother of civilization and posit that if civilization is marked by obtaining luxuries then this questions Luxury’s relationship to war. The students are invited to re-imagine Delacroix’s ‘Liberty Leading the People’ as ‘Luxury Leading the People,’ and explain how the picture would change.

• Werner Sombart’s (1913) Luxus und Kapitalismus’s ascription of a new importance to Luxury’s role in capitalism’s development is outlined in terms of linked themes of art, Luxury, fashion, and sexuality. Eighteenth-century Luxury consumption as fuelled by new wants and new wares is related to Juvenal’s statement that luxury was not linked with times of war but with peace leading to decadence.

• Art is defined as both ‘Old Luxury’ and as a ‘New Luxury.’ The work of Tobias Smollet and William Makepeace Thackeray is contrasted to Adam Smith and David Hume’s ideas on luxury, highlighting Hume’s idea of “Refinement” and the compatibility of moral virtue with the enjoyment of ‘moderate luxury.’A reiteration is made that places luxury as a concept that involves a system of discourse (an artistic mode) involving fluctuating social, philosophic and moral suppositions. Luxury is presented as a complex but central term in the language of cultural transformation.

• Using the example of Robert Frank’s Luxury Fever: Weighing the Cost of Excess, questions are raised as to whether we are spending too little on good things, such as providing public goods and capital for our personal and collective present and future. Frank’s argument that we are wasting our time and money on “positional goods” rather than on gains that endure is related to art collecting. The question is asked: what is the art of spending money?

• To conclude Thorstein Veblen’s observations in the ‘Theory of the Lesure Class’ on how the conspicuous consumption of the rich must be wasteful is explained in terms of Veblen’s blending together the two different arguments: moral and economic; necessity or luxury.

• An examination of Andrea Fraser’s essay asks (1) How do the world’s leading collectors earn their money? (2) How do their philanthropic activities relate to their economic operations? (3) What does collecting art mean to them and how does it affect the art world? The seminar concludes with a request for responses as to whether Veblen’s belief that ‘idle curiosity’ and the ‘instinct of workmanship’ can question ulterior motives connected with self-aggrandizement is accurate and relevant.

10. Luxury: References

Borges, Jorges L. (1972) A Universal History of Infamy, London, Penguin.

Cunningham, Andrew S. (2005) ‘David Hume’s Account of Luxury,’ Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Vol. 27, No.3, pp 231-250

Frank, Robert H. (2010) Luxury Fever: Weighing the Cost of Excess, Princeton University Press.

Fraser, Andrea (2011) ‘L’1% C’est moi,’ Texte zur Kunst , September, Yale School of Management, April, pp. 114-127, available from:

Hayden, Brian (2003) ‘Were Luxury Foods the First Domesticates? Ethnoarchaeological Perspectives from Southeast Asia,’ World Archaeology, Vol. 34, No. 3, pp. 458-469.

Shovlin, John (2000) ‘The Cultural Politics of Luxury in Eighteenth-Century Franc,’ French Historical Studies, Vol. 23, No. 4, pp. 577-606.

Simmons, Sherwin (2000) ‘Ernst Kirchner’s Streetwalkers: Art, Luxury, and Immorality in Berlin, 1913-16,’ The Art Bulletin, Vol. 82, No. 1, pp. 117-148.

Smith, Adam (1759) The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part IV: Of the Effect of Utility upon the Sentiment of Approbation, available at:

Sombart, Werner (1913) Luxus und Kapitalismus, Duncker & Humblot.

Susato, Ryu (2006) ‘Hume’s Nuanced Defense of Luxury,’ Hume Studies, Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 167-186, available at:

Thompson, E. P. (1974) ‘Patrician Society, Plebian Culture,’ Journal of Social History, No. 7.

Veblen, Thorstein (1889) The Theory of the Lesure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions, available at:

Ward, Cheryl (2003) ‘Pomegranates in Eastern Mediterranean Contexts during the Late Bronze Age,’ World Archaeology, Vol. 34, No. 3, pp. 529-541.

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