Bloomberg View has taken an odd turn of late publishing a number of academic articles with very cynical views of capitalism. The latest is a facile piece from Mark C. Taylor’s religion-cum-art history work, “Refiguring the Spiritual: Beuys, Barney, Turrell, Goldsworthy.”
The structure and development of financial markets and the art market mirror each other. As art becomes a progressively abstract play of non-referential signs, so increasingly abstract financial instruments become an autonomous sphere of circulation whose end is nothing other than itself. When the overall economy moves from industrial and consumer capitalism to finance capitalism, art undergoes parallel changes. There are three stages in this process: the commodification of art, the corporatization of art, and the financialization of art.
Professor Taylor offers us Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons as examples of the first stage, commodification. But Prof. Taylor seems to think Koons’s interest in art antedates his brief career selling commodities:
Neither Koons nor his art gives any hint of the irony and parody that lend Warhol’s art its edge. While Warhol’s work unsettles, Koons’s art is crafted to reassure. Unapologetically embracing banality and freely admitting his ignorance of art history
Then Murakami gets dragged into it because Kaikai Ki Ki is a corporation.
Yet Murakami’s corporatization of art does not express the fundamental economic transformation that has taken place since the late 1960s. As financial capitalism expands, the production of tangible goods is increasingly displaced by the invention of intangible products. This is as true in the art market as it is in the stock market.
We’ll have to wait until part two to find out what that means.
Is Modern Finance Ruining Modern Art? (Bloomberg)