chapter  11
13 Pages

The Art World

ByBen Burt

Anthropology and art history demonstrate Western art to be artefacts for display that are valued according to hierarchies of class and gender and collected as commodities through markets promoted by public exhibition and brokered by the institutions of the “art world.” Even the “art world,” the network of professionals and patrons who mediate art with the public at large, has trouble defining what it means by art, which was one reason for reviewing the history of the concept. Anthropology faces a problem in freeing the concept of art from the ideological control of this Western art world, which limits its potential for explaining human culture in general. The surplus capital of metropolitan elites can be invested in collectible artefacts, the exchange value of which is enhanced by their scarcity and acceptability to the art world that shapes the values of artefact exhibition.