The Art Basel is more than just a fair in the commercial sense of the word, more than a temporally and spatially concentrated gathering of dealers offering their goods for sale to interested buyers.
It is at the same time the site of a display of ‘holy’ goods in the presence of thousands and thousands of believers, a pilgrim’s goal for the ritualized adoration of modern and contemporary art.
It is also, and for precisely this reason, the decisive witness of the upheaval marking a radical change in that relationship between ‘art’ and ‘money’ – with all the consequences, not least for the evaluation of what is to be regarded as ‘genuine’ art.
This present study, the result of several years of sociological field work, attempts to draw a picture of this change as perceived by the participants, the organizers of the fair, the gallerists, collectors, curators, art consultants and artists, as a central problem of the contemporary art scene.
The authors, members of a research group of the University of St. Gallen, present in When Art Meets Money a detailed study of the practice of the contemporary ‘picture market’, drawing upon Pierre Bourdieu’s influential sociology of art.