ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, 09|17|2011 – 02|05|2012

Art as Commodity. The New Economy and the Art Markets

Nowhere is globalization so glaringly evident as a turning point for art as can be witnessed in the art markets. While globalization disregards the established geographic borders of the art trade, the new economy has produced a global clientele of billionaires who, as collectors, no longer have affinities to a specific cultural standard. They above all collect contemporary art – far more than modern and older art – which is produced globally. Hong Kong, which has meanwhile formed a network with Art Basel, and Beijing, is replacing New York and London in the pecking order of trading centers. This new state of affairs is mirrored in an art that reflects on its own market conditions. It is no longer critical of the market in the old sense, but rather self-critical in a fatalistic or ironic sense. Today, the market can no longer be observed from outside as a subject. This becomes evident in this section among those works which analyze the fiction behind real market prices. Prada Marfa (2005) by Elmgreen & Dragset, a sealed store in the New Mexico desert, was shown in New York, in 2007 at the exhibition The Price of Everything … Perspectives on the Art Market. Liu Ding’s Store (2008 ongoing) invites us to discuss the value system represented by art, and undermines the exhibition by offering “unfinished paintings” for sale, which have merely been signed by the artist. In an ironic refraction, the Chinese market is reflected in the exterior views of Gabriele di Matteo’s China Made in Italy (2008) and in Navin Rawanchaikul’s SUPER CHINA! (2009). The American artist Josh Greene took a different path by inviting the Chinese artist Yangzi as a co-producer of his work Red/Greene (2011) and to join a process whereby all those solid contours that assume the commodity value of art as a precondition dissolve.