Introduction: Art and finance
The editorial premise of this special issue is that the adage ‘art and money do not mix’ is now wholly untenable. As detailed in our extended interview with Clare McAndrew, the art market has grown rapidly over the last twenty years, leading to systemic and structural changes in the art field. For some, this growth of the market and its significance for art is an institutional misfortune that, for all of its effects, is nonetheless inconsequential to the normative claim that art and money shouldn’t mix. This commonplace premise looks to keep the sanctity or romance of art from the business machinations of market mechanisms, as eloquently summarised by Oscar Wilde’s definition of cynicism (‘knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing’). This issue repudiates that normative moral code, and precisely for the reasons just stated: by now, the interests of the art market permeate all the way through the art system. The interests of the art market shape what is exhibited and where; what kinds of discourse circulate around which art (or even as art) and in what languages; and what, in general, is understood to count as art. In short, the art market – comprising mainly of collectors, galleries and auction houses – is now the primary driver in what is valuable in art.
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