Constructing the value of art : a sociological perspective on value creation at South African art auctions

Van Zyl, Marelize (2012-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The value of art is a critical concept in theoretical discourse. As a result, the high prices of artworks on auctions pose questions about the various processes of value construction and the status of art in these processes. This thesis adopts a sociological approach to the construction of value of art on South African auctions. This approach is situated within a socio-historical perspective, which introduces the various social structures and conditions of cultural production. The main premise of this approach is that a multiplicity of social and cultural influences permeates the art market, its processes and structures, and therefore the determination of value. This research therefore indicates that the value of art on auction is socially constructed. As such, the value of an artwork does not reside in itself, but is produced (and constantly reproduced) through processes that are subject to the codes and conventions of the art world. Within the context of the art market, artworks function as commodities for economic exchange. Since economic exchange is socially and culturally situated, the distinctive ways in which art auctions in South Africa (as a market intermediary) encompass certain social and cultural processes, is also explored. To asses the various factors that influence the value and exchange of artworks on auction, the study introduces the Components of Value Model. The Aesthetic and Historical Factors; the Supporting Documentation and Material Attributes of an artwork, as well as the Financial and Economic Factors collectively indicate that values are, first and foremost, social categories. The value of art on auction is therefore a socially constructed value.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die waarde van kuns is ‘n kritiese konesep in teoretiese gesprekvoering. Na aanleiding van die hoë pryse wat kunswerke op Suid-Afrikaanse veilings behaal, word verskeie vrae gevolglik gestel rondom die verskillende prosesse van waarde samestelling en die status van kuns in hierdie prosesse. Hierdie verhandeling neem ‘n sosiologiese benadering aan tot die samestelling van die waarde van kuns op veilings. Dié benadering is gesetel binne ‘n sosio-historiese perspektief wat verskeie sosiale strukture en voorwaardes van kulturele-produksie inlei. Die hoof premis van hierdie benadering is dat ‘n aantal sosiale en kulturele invloede die kunsmark se prosesse en trukture deurweek, en gevolglik ook die bepaling van waarde. Hierdie navorsing kom dus tot die gevolgtrekking dat die waarde van kuns op veilings sosiaal geskep word. Gevolglik is die waarde van kuns nie intrinsiek nie, maar word geproduseer (en aanhoudend geherproduseer) deur prosesse wat onderhewig is aan die kodes en konvensies van die kunswêreld. Binne die konteks van die kunsmark, funksioneer kunswerke bloot as kommoditeite vir ekonomiese verhandeling. Omdat ekonomiese vehandeling sosiaal en kultureel gesetel is, word die eiesoortige wyse van hoe kunsveilings (as ‘n marktussenganger) sekere sosiale en kulturele prosesse omvat, ook ondersoek. Om die veskeie faktore wat die waarde van kunswerke op veilings beïnvloed te ondersoek, word die ‘Komponente van Waarde Model’ ingebring. Gevolglik dui die Esteties- en Historiese Faktore; Ondersteunende Dokumentasie en Materiële Eienskappe van kunswerke asook die Finansiële en Ekonomiese Faktore gesamantlik aan dat waardes hoofsaaklik sosiale kategorieë is. Die waarde van kuns op veiling is gevolglik sosiaal gekonstrueer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/20053
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