Uncertainty, Art and Marketing - Searching for the Invisible Hand


Philosophy of Management

Forthcoming, pp.1-24

Departments: Marketing

Keywords: Institution Art Marketing Legitimacy Pragmatism Uncertainty

The development of art marketing as a new field of management occurs in a context of great confusion as to what constitutes the very definition of art, one aspect of this confusion being nothing else but the confusion between art and marketing itself. This confusion leads to conflicts between those who consider that art should be defined by a clear aesthetic criterion and those who accept the absence of such a criterion as a legitimate consequence of the principle of freedom which applies both to the creation of the artist and to the taste of the public. This state of confusion does not seem to be experienced in the same way in France where it has tended to be considered as a symptom of crisis in the world of art and in the United States where it has raised as a dominant force in contemporary art. Hence the confusion of art and marketing varies as a function of time (as shown by the emergence of a new field of management) and of space (as shown by the comparison of the French and American cases). It will be proposed that it is possible to account for these historical fluctuation thanks to an institutional approach based on the notion of system of legitimacy. We shall propose the essentially dynamic institutional foundations of modernity leading to the proliferation of innovations which consequences are ever more difficult to anticipate as a reason why, in America, philosophers coming from the analytic tradition found it meaningful to address questions such as “What is art” (Arthur Danto) or “When is there art” (Nelson Goodman”) expressing the need to go beyond pragmatism as expressed by John Dewey’s Art as Experience to promote a positive attitude towards contemporary art, while, in France confusion between art and marketing has been commonly considered negatively as the sign of the triumph of the most radical form of rhetoric, i.e. sophism