Contemporary Art Market

I recently took a graduate course on the Modern and Contemporary Western "art market" at a university in Boston.  The course served to give an overview of western art history since 1900, and and overview of art dealers, collectors, auctions, galleries, museums, etc... 

Many people say that the art world is elusive to those not intimately connected to its inner workings, and this truth was apparent from the "lessons" imparted about the art market to the class.  It is easy to become an expert in one area of the art market, like auctions, but not have much knowledge about the other workings of the market, like galleries, and artist commissions charged by galleries.  It takes years of experience to understand the multifaceted "art market."  No book can impart all the knowledge, but rather real experience is the best teacher. 

The review of art history in the course was classic textbook - with questions like "Does history influence the art artists produce?  Or do artists create work that is separate from current event?"  In Contemporary art the critic, coupled with curators, and gallerists, try to seek out meaning from the works of artists.  It really frustrates me.  Not every artist has a political agenda or wishes to impart social commentary through art.  Why does there have to be a meaning "found" in all art?  Do you really think that the majority of artists know why they are creating their art?  It could just be that the artist wants to create a reaction in people - whether the work is morbid or beautiful. 

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