Accepted Paper:

Constructing Authenticity: Viennese Artists between the Global Art Market and the State?  
Marko Saranovic (University of Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

This paper investigates the question of the construction of 'authenticity' in artists' practices in order to interrogate the pressures placed on the artists by the global art market and the state. The paper is grounded in an ethnography of the Viennese art world centered around art academies.

Paper long abstract:

Under the postmodern condition of aesthetics marked by an absence of a dominant aesthetic theory capable of distinguishing between good and bad art, the artistic expression and presentation changes. Artistic texts, exhibition practices and appeals to 'authenticity' become more important, as do art dealers and art buyers, replacing the art critics. Whereas global financial centres like New York and London push prices for living artists to sky-high levels, art markets in places like Vienna typically do not cross the 30 000EUR benchmark. In the context of the global art world where high prices serve as one of the most important mechanisms of communication, hierarchically and spatially ordering the art worlds, one's artwork and its relevance become determined primarily by the markets and their valuing mechanism. Artists must become skilled first and foremost at self-commodification, and wooing of the media. They must not only craft an image of desirable 'authenticity' of their artworks, and struggle for visibility within the complex power relations of the art worlds, but also deter and fight copyists - something that becomes particularly difficult in the online media landscapes. Should we consider specific constructions of 'authenticity,' just like high art prices, as communicative mechanisms within the art worlds? The analysis of the Viennese art world can help us understand not only the ways in which authenticity is constructed by the artists both vis-à-vis the market and the state, that funds much of the arts, but also the shifting (social-democratic to rightist) governance of art politics.

Panel P016
Art, Authenticity and Authority: Traversing the Power Struggles