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Accepted Contribution:

Museum commissioning in the 21st century: between idealised collaboration and circumscribed artistic creativity  

Contributor:

Franziska Wilmsen (Loughborough University)

Contribution short abstract:

My paper examines relationships between museums and artists in the act of commissioning by looking at the idealised and realistic representations of shared art production. The paper shall further explore to which extent aesthetic creation and the artist's sacrosanct authority is being distorted.

Contribution long abstract:

Over the past two decades, the commissioning of contemporary art has become a key activity in museums' programming. Particularly by museum branding, commissions are promoted as epitomes of mutually enriching collaborations with artists and thus, help flag the institution as a supporter or even a co-producer of emerging art. Though such representations present commissioning as a democratic and egalitarian act of cooperation in which the institution champions and facilitates artistic visions, the concrete conditions of this practice remain mostly covert to scholarship and audiences. Despite this idealisation casting a particular social image of commissioning, cases such as failed commissions between museums and artists rather necessitate the critical review of such practice: If the museum co-produces the artwork how might artistic authority be endangered? What conflicts of forces are ignited within these museum-artist-networks? Does museum commissioning actually allow for artistic autonomy, or is such autonomy circumscribed by art institutions' selective narratives?

Accordingly, my paper examines relationships between museums and artists in the act of commissioning by looking at the idealised and more realistic representations of shared art production. The paper shall further explore to which extent aesthetic creation and the artist's sacrosanct authority is being distorted. Therefore, I shall not solely consult scholarship on contemporary art museums, network and sociological theories. Rather, by drawing on recent case studies from Western art institutions, I will provide fresh insights to the institutional patronage of art that is profoundly imbued by competing aesthetic and economic agendas.

Panel Perf04
Breaking art rules? New patrons, art commissions and the old "règles de l´art"