Art, Culture and Markets in a Global Context
My substantive research engages with dynamics of art, cultural production and markets in a global context. My first book, The Global Rules of Art. The Emergence and Divisions of a Cultural World Economy, examines the historical emergence of a global field in contemporary art and the diverse ways that artists become valued worldwide. Prior to the 1980s, the postwar canon of “international” contemporary art was made up almost exclusively of artists from North America and Western Europe, while artists from other parts of the world often found themselves on the margins. The Global Rules of Art examines how this discriminatory situation has changed in recent decades. Drawing from abundant sources—including indicators from more than one hundred countries, multiple institutional histories and discourses, extensive fieldwork, and interviews with artists, critics, curators, gallerists, and auction house agents—the book examines the genesis of a world-spanning art field whose logics have increasingly become defined in global terms. Blending comprehensive historical analysis with detailed case studies, the book contributes to advancing a multi-scalar global field approach that sheds light on dynamics of valuation and the related making (or unmaking) of cultural hierarchies in global context.
My second ongoing book project expands my interest in valorization by turning from the perspective of cultural mediation to consumption. Drawing from several months of field work in the Middle East and China, it examines the cross-border formation of audiences and taste cultures through the lens of global art collectors.
Transnational and Global Theorizing
Based on insights from substantive research, my work also engages broader theoretical and methodological concerns of transnational and global analysis. It introduces the concept of “relative vertical autonomy” as a new angle to theorize national-global relations; offers arguments to rethink the “center-periphery model” and the idea of “asymmetric interdependencies” from a field analytical perspective; and proposes a “multi-scalar” approach for theorizing fields/markets/boundaries. My ongoing work further interrogates the utility of analogical theorizing and causal mechanisms for transnational/global analysis.
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