Centre for the Study of the Art and Antiques Market


The Substance of Symbolic Value – at Henry Moore Institute

The Substance of Symbolic Value:
Museums, Collections, & the Appearance of Value in ArtA day of discussion with Nizan Shaked (California State University Long Beach), hosted by the Centre for Critical Materialist Studies in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of the Arts and Antiques Markets (University of Leeds).**Please register via Eventbrite**: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-substance-of-symbolic-value-museums-collections-the-appearance-of-value-in-art-tickets-43713792129

*Scroll down for link to readings*

In the morning, Nizan will give the following lecture:

‘The Substance of Symbolic Value: Museums, Collections, and the Appearance of Value in Art’

Despite recent fluctuations, the market for contemporary art has increased incrementally since the late 20th century, and has been at an all time historic high since the beginning of the 21st century. Art institutions are intertwined in this trend, with record numbers of new museums dedicated to contemporary art opening across the globe, and established universal survey museums turning over more resources to exhibit and collect the current. Yet, while historical artworks and collectibles have inheritance and rarity to guarantee their worth, what is it, beyond the market, that can insure the prices of contemporary art? Although art prices are determined on the market (auction houses, galleries, fairs, and other formats of art dealing), this paper makes the claim that the network of museums, nonprofit art spaces, and alternative spaces are a necessary condition in facilitating the market. I focus on collecting institutions, arguing that it is the unit of “the collection” that guarantees the symbolic value of art, giving it the power to siphon and hold objectified abstract labor. This paper will use recent work on the value of art, with that of Diane Elson and Ann E. Davis, to describe the interaction between symbolic and monetary value and theorize its historical specificity in relation to the establishment of money as a general equivalent. Particularly, I ask: what was the substance of an object’s worth during the development of European mercantilism, how is it different under capitalism, has the monetization and financialization of art affected its flow, and what are the implications for the art institution today?

The afternoon discussion will centre around four texts:

Pierre Bourdieu, ‘The Forms of Capital’, from J.E. Richardson (ed.), Handbook of Theory of Research for the Sociology of Education (Greenwood Press, 1986), pp. 241-58.

Nizan Shaked, ‘Art and Value – Museum Collections as Commons’, forthcoming issue of Historical Materialism, and published here: http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/blog/art-and-value-reviewed-nizan-shaked

Beverley Best, ‘Distilling a Value Theory of Ideology from Volume Three of Capital’, Historical Materialism 23.3 (2015) 101–141.

Ann E. Davis, ‘The New “Voodoo Economics”: Fetishism and the Public/Private Divide’, Review of Radical Political Economics (2012) 45(1) 42–58.

These texts, plus three supplementary readings and the PROGRAMME, can be accessed here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1nqw-7uHeCXyKjgTEx9BqB68w3nKYeU_3


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Antique Dealer Archives – ‘Action Week’

All this week ( August 22nd-26th) we have been cleaning and cataloguing the Phillips of Hitchin antique dealer archives at the Brotherton Library Special Collections (BLSC). Thanks to the BLSC and our small team of enthusiastic volunteers we have managed to make excellent progress on getting this important archive open to the public. Here are the team of volunteers and BLSC staff working hard on cleaning the archive.

archive action week 5

Archive Volunteers – L-R – Helen, Pauline, Heather, Matt, Sue, Riza, Frances.

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‘In Conversation’ – Archives, People, Objects

A one-day workshop on Tuesday 17 May 2016 at The Treasures Gallery, University of Leeds & Temple Newsam House, Leeds

This event aims to start Conversation between Archives, People and Objects by bringing together some materials from the key Antique Dealer Archives that have been donated to the Brotherton Library Special Collections, into a dialogue with People and Objects associated with the archive. It is an opportunity for an interdisciplinary discussion, bringing together antique dealers, museum professionals, students, members of the general public and academics.

10.30am – The Treasures Gallery, Parkinson Building, The University of Leeds: ‘Antique Dealer Archives’ – a presentation on antique dealer archives, together with informal discussion on some examples of archive material from the Brotherton.

12.30pm – Lunch for all participants – networking and discussion.

1.45pm – Coach from University of Leeds to Temple Newsam House (for all participants)

2.00pm – Objects, Archives, People – Hidden History Tours of Temple Newsam House collections – bringing objects, archives, and people, together in Conversation.

4.00pm – Close – coach back to University of Leeds, arriving at c.4.30pm.

The workshop is free but booking is essential. Please book your place here.

Enquiries: m.westgarth@leeds.ac.uk

This event is organised by The Centre for the Study for the Art and Antiques Market at the University of Leeds. It is the first research centre, both nationally and internationally, with a specific focus on the study of the history of the trade in both art and antiques.

Image: Blairman & Sons, London, stand at Grosvenor House Antiques Fair 1950

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Antique Dealer Project Conference

Date: 14th & 15th April 2016
Location: Temple Newsam House, Leeds.

CfP coming soon.

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