Art is Money-Sexy!: The Corporatization of Contemporary Art

Ellen Gorman

Advisor: David Kaufmann, PhD, Department of English

Committee Members: Ellen Todd, Dina Copelman

Johnson Center, #240A
April 19, 2012, 04:30 PM to 01:00 PM


Thomas Hoving’s description in the title of the function of contemporary art in the Sixties in New York is emblematic of the shift in its valuation in the last sixty years.  In the dissertation I focus on this shift and interrogate the ways in which works of art have been completely transformed into commodities by corporatized entities that see them as useful only in terms of exchange value. I argue that the neoliberal financialization of various sectors of society and commodities, including the art market, has resulted in a current state in which works of contemporary art, such as a Hirst dot painting, now exist as money capital alone. Contemporary art has been demystified in order to take on its role in the market and in this way exchange value has completely overtaken use value. Individual chapters zero in on actors in the art world, including the artist, dealer, collector and auction house, in addition to various market indices and analysis, art world discourse and criticism and a brief survey of the history of the art market from the 1950s to the present juncture.