Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Talking Prices: Symbolic Meanings of Prices on the Market for Contemporary Art - Olav Velthuis


"How do dealers price contemporary art in a world
where objective criteria seem absent? Talking Prices
is the first book to examine this question from a
sociological perspective. On the basis of a wide range
of qualitative and quantitative data, including
interviews with art dealers in New York and
Amsterdam, Olav Velthuis shows how contemporary
art galleries juggle the contradictory logics of art and
economics. In doing so, they rely on a highly
ritualized business repertoire. For instance, a sharp
distinction between a gallery's museumlike front space
and its businesslike back space safeguards the
separation of art from commerce.

Velthuis shows that prices, far from being abstract
numbers, convey rich meanings to trading partners
that extend well beyond the works of art. A high price
may indicate not only the quality of a work but also
the identity of collectors who bought it before the
artist's reputation was established. Such meanings
are far from unequivocal. For some, a high price
may be a symbol of status; for others, it is a symbol
of fraud."


"The book is an excellent, readable and thorough
analysis of how prices are set in the contemporary
art market." The Art Newspaper

"[Talking Prices] provides an excellent analysis of
the tension between art and commerce that
characterizes the art world."Stuart Plattner,
American Anthropologist

Sample Chapter -
PDF Format -

To view the Table of Contents and/or to order:

No comments: