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Dynamics of Valuation in a Cultural World Economy

Chinese Neo Pop Art, Wang Guangyi
Wednesday, December 9, 2020, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Although social scientists have become increasingly interested in the contemporary art market, existing research has largely ignored the growth of art collectors outside of traditional market centers in the US and Western Europe. My fellowship project, which draws from research in China and Qatar, moves beyond this prevailing West-centric focus and explores how elites from rising world economies become invested in contemporary art to such a degree that they will spend substantial sums on it. In my lecture, I discuss some of the evolving theoretical directions of this research project, focusing on the rise of buyers of Chinese contemporary art in the new millennium. My approach attends to the various ways elite cultural preferences - which seem at first glance to be rooted in nationalist impulses - are shaped by the interplay between national, regional and global processes. The case study offers insights toward a new, more multi-scalar understanding of the shaping of high-cultural consumption within a global context.