Conference Art and Law

Goethe - Institut
I.R.E.N.E. - Institut de Recherches et d'Etudes Notariales Européen
Institut Français de Thessalonique
Thessaloniki (Greece), December 4, 2014



The paper focuses on the major changes concerning the conditions in which contemporary artworks are created and the institutions through which they circulate in the global market. The key features of globalization as a complex process, like universal interdependence, the acceleration of interactions, the "deterritorialization" of contemporary art, and the integration between the local and the global, as well as the predominance of the financial capital in the broader system of production, have brought about structural changes in the global art market and in the art world in general.

Following the analysis by Diane Crane and others about the changes observed during the last decades, the paper outlines the emergence of a very small number of mega-collectors and a few centers for trading contemporary artworks that acquired a central role in the art world bringing about significant functional changes. This development has been the result of changes in cultural policy at the local level and in a market-oriented direction that led to the systematic undermining of traditional institutions for the legitimation, protection and dissemination of the arts, such as museums, critics and communities of artists. In these circumstances, the development of a peculiar form of "financialization" of the art world on a global level has been favored.

The artistic creation of the present is the cultural heritage of the future. Consequently, several issues need to be seen in a new perspective, considering that the circulation of contemporary art is confined within a very small circle of wealthy super-collectors, a few powerful art dealers and auction houses, and a small number of international art fairs. These issues are related with the freedom of access to the arts and its future, the support of cultural development and contemporary creation (particularly where neoliberal notions about culture and the arts are dominant), as well as the protection of the artists' rights. Moreover, since traditional distinctions between fine and popular arts have become ambiguous and sometimes obsolete, the different positions concerning the global arrangements and regulations of the trade of cultural goods, as well as the arguments upon which they are based, need also to be reconsidered.