Phobia or euphoria for the art market? – Paradoxes of the Contemporary Art Market
Estefanía Radnic

In the essay, How much art worth?. Market, speculation and culture of celebrity, Isabelle Graw makes a rigorous analysis of the conflictive relationship between art and market, opposite poles that are integrated into a dialectical unit.

The art market is a market in network, a reality not isolated from the social but, on the contrary, immersed in the social links. It is a network riddled with holes, contradictions and limitations that the German specialist encourages to question.

Art is a commodity different from all others. It is divided into a symbolic value (or cultural value, here the special status of art, the idealization is manifested) and a market value (the price), dimensions that influence each other. This confers an exceptional degree of internal tension since this symbolic value is hardly transferable to economic categories (the invaluable dimension). But, and this is interesting, without symbolic value there is no market value for an artwork.

The same actors in the art market present art as the “good” and the market as the “bad”, a dichotomy that constitutes the ideological base on which this market operates. Precisely those who deny the market at the same time are feeding it.

Neither demonize the market by relating it to evil, nor celebrate its triumph by denying the inequalities it produces. Graw maintains that both positions are very simplistic. The key would be to overcome this false art-market dualism and assume the dynamic and conflictive link that relates them in a constant negotiation of power.

Marco Raparelli, the Italian artist who ironizes about contemporary art