Contemporary art and financialization: Two approaches

Victoria Ivanova
Finance and Society, 2016, 2(2): 127-37


This essay identifies two approaches to theorizing the relationship between financialization and contemporary art. The first departs from an analysis of how market logics in non-financial spheres are being transformed to facilitate financial circulation; the other considers valuation practices in financial markets (and those related to derivative instruments in particular) from a socio-cultural perspective. According to the first approach, the contemporary art market is in theory a hostile environment for financialization, although new practices are emerging that are increasing its integration with the financial sphere. The second approach identifies socio- cultural similarities between the logics by which value is extracted, amplified, and distributed through derivative instruments and contemporary art. The two approaches present a discrepancy: on the one hand, contemporary art functions as an impediment to outright financialization because of market opacity; on the other, contemporary art represents a socio- cultural analog to derivative instruments. The essay concludes by setting out the terms for a more holistic understanding of contemporary art’s relationship to financialization, which would enable an integration of its economic and socio-cultural dimensions.