Sociological Causation of Worth Distinction in Contemporary Visual Arts

By Zahra Rahbarnia and Samineh Ansari.

Published by The Arts Collection

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

The subjects related to the artists, especially visual art and its works, have been always controversial. The differences among the worth of various art works have been referred to a wide range of causes such as qualitative and technical reasons, historical considerations, aesthetical values, etc. Although it seems that these reasons contain neglected social origins and aspects themselves, the merely sociological causes are considered to be of importance in understanding these differences. Focusing on the art creator, i.e. the artist, this article investigates the social causes in worth differences amongst the artworks. The main subject in this paper is to find and understand the merely sociological roots of artwork’s distinction in their worth.
In the beginning the concepts of art and artists are defined, considering that demonstrating any definition for the artist concept should be accordant to the previously presented definition of art. Meanwhile the field concept in Bourdieu’s action theory has been expounded (in order to be used to describe the artist’s world instead of class concept), and the institutional theory of defining art by Dickie and Danto has been chosen to describe artist’s groups.
Then there is a case study on five Iranian contemporary virtual artists based on the comparison of four kinds of capitals.
Consequently the relation between the virtual artist’s social field and varieties of virtual arts is explained and the hypothesis about the existence of this connection in contemporary Iran is established. Social reasons are in fact, considered to be very effective in explaining the distinction of artworks by their value and worth.

Keywords: Art, Worth, Institutional Theory, Capital, Social Field, Visual, Arts

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp.263-272. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 931.994KB).

Zahra Rahbarnia

Head of Art Faculty and Assistant Professor, Department of Research in Arts, Faculty of Art, Alzahra University, Tehran, Tehran, Iran (Islamic Republic of)

Dr. Zahra Rahbarnia received her PhD in arts research form Alzahra University in 2006 and Masters of illustration from the University of Tehran in 1996. She’s also graphic design (BS) graduate in 1988 from art university, Tehran. For the past two decades, she has taught courses in layout, theoretical basics of color, photography, criticisms of arts, she also has taught graduate courses in theoretical basics of illustration and photography, sociology of art, wisdom of art, communication of art and new art. She is currently head of faculty of art at Alzahra University. Her areas of interests include interdisciplinary research in arts. She has been published several times in various fields such as comparative study of illustration in Iran, cultural grounds and arts education, pictorial advertising and society, etc. Associate professor, Alzahra University, Tehran, Iran.

Samineh Ansari

Masters Student, Social Welfare Planning, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Tehran, Iran (Islamic Republic of)

Masters Student in urban design, Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Tehran, Iran.

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