Contextual Art and Hedonic Price Indexes: To Be or Not to Be Marketable?

By Belén Mazuecos and Marilena Vecco.

Published by The Arts Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The aim of this paper is to measure the market success of a group of artists who form part of the movement known as “Contextual Art” (CA). They represent a paradigm of criticism of the commercial aspects of art (mechanisms of circulation, diffusion and selection), the concept of authorship, the notion of authenticity, and the practice of collecting art. The strategies used by these artists to criticise the art business and its institutions will also be analysed.

We will try to understand if this kind of art has a market and how large that market is. Our hypothesis is that even though these artists criticise the market harshly, they submit to its laws: the more revolutionary the artist’s actions, the more acquiescent the intermediaries, as the art market neutralises the artist’s critique and incorporates it. We analyse this “trick game” (Brea, J.L., 2004: 160) and its impact on the market.

The methodology used here is based on the hedonic regression method, which will allow us to calculate the price index of the CA movement (Pre-War, Post-War and Recent Art) and its sub-movements (Nouveau Réalisme, Conceptual Art, Land Art, etc...) based on a sample group of 5,005 works created by 52 different CA artists, sold at art auctions between 1990 and 2007.

Keywords: Art Markets, Contextual Art, Hedonic Price Method, Contemporary Art

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 4, Issue 6, pp.111-124. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.292MB).

Dr Belén Mazuecos

Professor, Vicedean of Cultural Affairs, Department of Painting, Faculty of Fine Arts, Granada, Spain

Belén Mazuecos is Vicedean of Cultural Affairs of the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Granada (Spain) and lecturer in the Department of Painting of this Institution. Artist and researcher, her main research topics are Contemporary Art and Art Markets. She wrote her doctoral thesis about Contextual Art.

Dr. Marilena Vecco

Head of Research, International Center for Art Economics, University Ca’ Foscari, Venice, Italy

Marilena Vecco is head of Research at ICARE (International Center for Art Economics), University Ca’ Foscari of Venice (Italy) and lecturer in Cultural Economics and Art Markets. Her main research interests are: cultural heritage, cultural fiscal system and contemporary art. She wrote and edited some books: Economics of Copying and Counterfeiting (edited with G. Mossetto), 2004; Economics of Art Auctions (edited with G. Mossetto), 2002; Biennale di Venezia Documenta di Kassel, Milan, F. Angeli, 2001.

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