Contemporary art as global art. A critical estimate

Hans Belting


“Contemporary art has become a social phenomenon, a tool for communication. There is no point in comparing it to what we used to know, because it is dependant on the effects of globalization which we are only beginning to discover and whose impact wer are still struggling to assess”[1]


1. A Global Art Forum.In March 2007, the Dubai Art Fair, a subsidiary of Dubai’s International Financial Centre (DIFC) ,organized a “Global Art Forum” in which the term “global art” simply was used as  synonymous with today’s contemporary art [2]. Some of the sections , as was to be expected, addressed issues like “Branding cities through culture” and “Building future art cities”. One  section, however , narrowed the spectrum  by asking the blunt questions: “How will Contemporary Art affect theMiddle East in the next 10 years?” “Or how will theMiddle East affect Contemporary Art in the next 10 years?” Some of the participants objected that the two questions were not commensurable ,and that  they treated art as a matter of planning.


The creation of  art markets in the Middle East is an economic project that  indeed will   “affect Contemporary Art”. Western auction houses are competing with one another in the  region. Sotheby’s  opens a branch in Qatar, and Christie’s has  chosen Dubai[3] Abu Dhabi  where the Louvre  will send part of its collections, commissioned a museum building by Tadao Ando. InQatar, besides the brand newmuseum ofIslamic Art (I.M.Pei), a museum of contemporary art is to open soon. Thus, theMiddle East will indeed “affect” the global art world.  Art museums  , though still an unfamiliar institution in the region,are an obvious choice , and therefore quite a number of new museums  are already under construction. In 2008, the  “Global Art Forum ” , this time with “The Financial Times” as partner, stated bluntly that “art is a business”. The board of “Cultural and Art Authority” , on that occasion, explained their “agenda for a global art city”. Thus, theGulf states provide a test case for art’s globalization as an economic project (cf.also p.  )..


But it is quite another matter to ask how  art “will affect the Middle East” , as the first “Global Art Forum” did. Contemporary art, with its critical  message and public visibility , bears the potential of  conflicts with state control in censoring artists. China , after 1989, is an example for the prize that has to be paid for a compromise between goverment politics and art trade.Only the economic elite of private collectors and investors can afford the risk to own art of whatever intention.The Gulf States may apply more liberal principles than their Arab neighbours, but their experience with today’s art is  limited, if we leave aside Sharja whose biennial is vividly described by Jack Persekian, Artistic Director of the Sharja Biennial, in this volume (p.  ). If we however look on the artists’ part , whether they still live in the region or work uproad,we discover a new enthusiasm. It is precisely  the economic prospect , enhanced by the global perspective, that opens unprecedented possibilities for them. Enrico Navarra, a Parisdealer, has even started a new distributrion project for them by publishing book editions for artists who “are developing a new vision of the Arab world”, as Jérome Sans, the editor of the third volume in his series  , writes[4] . The whole endeavour depends on whether artists will be given “independant spaces for looking and reading”  that are a novelty not only in art but concern the whole social life. The aim is to create models for artists to work even under the pressure of the business world they live in.


2.Global art. Twenty years after its first manifestations, the time has come to discuss the nature and purpose of global art that emerged , like a phoenix from the ashes,  from modern art at the end of the 20th century and opposed modernity’s cherished ideals of progress and hegemony [5]. Contemporary art that  for a long time  was merely the most recent art,assumed  an entirely new meaning when art production , following the turn of  world politics and world trade in 1989, expanded across the globe. The results of this unprecedented  expansion challenged the continuity of any Eurocentric  view of “art”.Global art is no longer synonymous with modern art. It is by definition contemporary not  just  in a chronological but also, as we will see, in a symbolic or even ideological sense.It is  both represented and distorted by an art market whose strategies are not just economic mechanisms when  crossing cultural borders, but channel art production in directions for which we still lack sufficient categories.


Art on a global scale does not imply an inherent aesthetic quality which could be identified as such, nor a global  concept of what has to be regarded as art. Rather than representing a new context , it indicates the loss of context or focus and  includes its own contradiction by implying the counter movement of regionalism and tribalisation, whether national, cultural or religious. It clearly differs from modernity whose self-appointed universalism was based on a  hegemonial notion of art. In short, new art today is as global ,as also the world wide net is  global . The net is global in the sense that it  is used everywhere , but this does not mean that it is  universal in content and message. It allows  free access and thus a personal response to the world. But it is for the same reasons that it creates problems for political regimes that are urged to control it, precisely because their problems are by definition local and therefore are threatened by a free flow of information and opinion that goes with  uncensered creativity.  It may be difficult for Western art criticism to accept the novelty  ( and not just the new geographical reach) of global art , but it is wishful thinking to keep it under Western guidance and within the precincts of familiar institutions.


But  control is not only a political problem, as it  is also  a concern of art criticism and aesthetics.  Global art may be critical in political terms but it also is critical in  terms of art categories that are defined by inclusion or exclusion. New art often is blurring any  borders between mainstream art, on the one side, and popular art, on the other, and thus abolishes the old  dualism between Western Art and Ethnographic practice  by using indigenous  traditions as a reference , as Justo Pastor Mellado has shown for Chile and Paraguay (p.  ).   Seen from a Western point of view, global art represents a geopolitical  or even a “geoaesthetic”” brand, as Joaquin Barriendos explains in this volume ( p.  ). It is a symbolical capital  whose value changes from one place to the other, even if Western revisionism tries to control its currency with its own exchange rates. Difference , with the label of a foreign culture, has become marketable  as an entrance ticket for newcomers on the art market.


3. World Art. Global Art and World Art are sometimes used as synonyms.. But world art  is an old idea  complementary to modernism  that was already developed in André Malraux’s postwar book on universal art without museum walls, because or although it was mostly to be found in Western museums. It  continues to signify art from all ages, the heritage of mankind. In fact, it made art from every possible provenance acceptable under the condition of excluding it from modern mainstream art  – an old argument between art and ethnographic museums. Such a significance is officially codified in international laws for art’s and monuments’ protection. The “School of World Art Studies” , a novelty in the university realm and an institution  that is located at the University of East Anglia in Norwich ,offers a clear example for the discussion of World Art today. Its origin was the Sainsbury collection which the university inherited and whose items  from Africa and Oceania were collected as “art” and juxtaposed with modern art , as was the custom in modern art’s formalism and universal aethetics (fig.  ). It was in the line with this concept that John Onians who taught at the school, edited his magnificent ” Atlas of World Art” which reaches from the stone age to the present day, a project also accompanied by a World Art Library[6].  A similar program  at Leiden University,  is documented in the volume “World Art Studies” whose contributors are  both  art critics and ethnographers , i.e.groups which for a long time had belonged to different camps of thought and method [7].


The idea of “World art”, in a  sense, is held together by an art concept that is based on modernism’s universalism and today looks somewhat odd , as it bridges a Western notion of art with a multiform, and often ethnic ,production on which the term “art” is applied in an arbitrary manner. It was a paradigm of modernist aesthetics to regard every form or work that humanity created, as art. World art -a kind of aesthetic appropriation of objects as pure “form” or as proof of individual creativity on a universal scale –  is best described in André Malraux’s book on the “imaginary museum” that in fact is a museum in the mind and therefore epitomizes world art that also is a construct.[8]  .World art never was the concern of ethnographers who dealt with local products in a culture-specific way and thus in most concrete terms . It may be admitted that labels such as “ethnic” or “primitive” are equally questionable but they are so for very different reasons. Sally Price brings the western art appropriation to the point in her book Primitive Art in Civilized Places, an acerbic account of the apories surrounding artifact and work of art. [9]


World art, in the mean time, matters for identity politics in cultures that had no previous share in modernism and therefore today insist on their own traditions and their own narratives in defining visual production as cultural practice. World art also receives a lot of attention due to the growing pressure of repatriation claims from  former colonies. Metropolitan museums of the West, often accused as outposts of empire and colonialism, today have to rethink their arguments in order to defend their collections. The BritishMuseumis among them, and its director, Neil MacGregor, claimed his museum to be “not only  a museum of the world but also a museum for the world”[10]. In this sense, he opened a blockbuster show of the Chinese Terracotta army that attracted large crowds in 2007 , thus ascertaining his claims not only to own , but also to promote world art. A bookshop on Russell Street which I came across at the time, unintentionally offered a telling case for the need of our distinction. The owner of the shop presented books about world art and others about global art , though in both cases about art from China, side by side in the same window display. The catalogue of the British Museum exhibition  across the street shared the window  with a book on “Artists in China” that was dedicated to the new market presence  of living artists from China and thus would not have made any sense twenty years ago (fig.  ).


In 1982, Jean-Louis Pradel published one of the last books with the title “World Art Trends” for contemporary art , though most of the 23 countries still were Western [11]. Today, however, “world art” is synonymous  with the art heritage of the “others”, meaning art on an universal scale .World art encompasses most cultures beyond the West whose heritage was preserved in  empire type museums[12]. In fact, world art for a long time primarily was owned by  Western museums , where it exists as an expatriated  and contested treasure from colonial times. In order to protect their collections, directors of 18 Western museums recently signed a declaration in which they defend their institutions as “Universal Museums” that were created to serve the whole world and not a single country or nation[13]. Universal museums as an idea are a legacy  from modernity’s claim to offer universal models for the whole world.Globalism, on the other hand, is a response to Universalism and serves to propagate the symbolic capital of difference on the market. Global art, in fact, differs profoundly from world art in that it is always created as “art” , to begin with, and that is synonymous with contemporary art practice, whatever the art definitions may be in the single case.


4. World Art History or Global Art History? World art studies , it has been said,usually are concerned with  an old topic that originated in the 19th century, but we encounter today  a new debate about world art history , in the sense of a world wide competence of the Western type discipline of art history. It was  sketched out in  David Summers’  book where “World Art History” appears in the subtitle [14]  ,and critically discussed by James Elkins, the editor of  the  volume “Is Art History Global?”[15]. Whereas Summers claims a universal competence of art history for every part of the world, Elkins insists on “local practices of art history” that do not follow a single model[16]. In his editorial “Art History as a global discipline”, he develops “five arguments against the idea that art history is, or could become, a single enterprise throughout the world”.  The problem, in my view, however is also one of the terms to be used, and terminology has to be taken seriously, when, in the meanwhile, global art is  denoting a new geography of contemporary art which is hardly twenty years old .


Global art history is therefore a misleading term, since it is not concerned with global art , but  is only concerned with art history  and thus with an altogether different matter of method and discipline in art writing.  With other words, world art and global art so much differ as contents or materials that they should not be used as synonyms. The debate, in my view, is one of world art history , as it is called in a recent book of David Carrier and a forthcoming book by Whitney Davis[17] .World art  history, as a discourse or as a narrative ,claims the competence of being a method for discussing art of whatever age and provenance.Global art as contemporary art implies quite a different question. The question is whether global art of today still allowes an art historical reasoning  or, rather, represents a deliberate exodus from art history as  narrative.


The question, with other words, is whether global art today still feels obliged to a notion of art history that was guiding modern art both in the camps of the avantgarde and their conservative opponents. Art history, as I have suggested at various occasions,  was  a local game even when the subject was world art. It was designed for modern readers who wanted to study art  via a history of art forms. But “Art History after Modernism”, as I rephrased the title of the various German editions “The End of the History of Art”, suffered a crisis even in Western confines[18]. As was the case of Hervé Fischer who performed  the “end of the history of art”, as his book is entitled, in 1980 in the Centre Pompidou, artists deliberately left the master narrative of art history whose claims they rejected.  The cult of objects that were considered works of art, shifted to the experience of events in time and space that escape a linear art history with the 19th century idea of evolution. The globalization of  art, in the meanwhile, represents a new stage in art’s exodus  from the patronage of  art history. Global art flourishes in parts of the world where art history has not been a concern at all.


On the other hand, it is quite uncertain whether and how Western museums will represent art history in the future.The permanent exhibition in Tate Modern replaces the narrative of art history with “alternative ways of looking at art,” as Frances Morris explains in the Tate handbook. So-called “viewpoints” such as “Poetry and Dream” allow for “multiple readings” of the collection in order to respond to “an open and fluid situation”. Flow charts in the hall way instead  carry on MoMa’s old genealogical trees of the thirties  that however no longer  work for contemporary art. The Tate curators cannot be blamed for making obvious what art history has come to. They invited visitors to “fill in the blanks” and to write their own “viewpoints” on a postcard. Art history is out of control, after late modern art undermined the claims of a linear history, as it was offered by the majority of museum exhibitions.


Efforts to globalize  art history often borrow the current discourse of cultural theory where post-colonial debates of identity and migration are prevalent. A conference at the Universityof Binghamton, already in 1991, criticized art history’s dependance on the terminology of cultural theory. As Anthony King, the editor of the conference papers, states in the introduction: “No contemporary question is more urgent than the need to explore alternative ways of conceptualizing and analyzing issues related to the ‘globalization of culture’, frequently perceived, in popular terms, as cultural homogenization on a global scale”[19] The art historians, at the conference, responded to the gatekeepers of cultural theory and demanded a new debate that actually catches the significance in the change of the art world.


But the crisis of the master narrative  does not  help the former periphery countries to reinvent an art history on their own or to replace it with something else. Art history , thus, has  a different calendar among Chinese artists and collectors. Zhangs picture, “Birth of the People’s Republic of China” (1992)also alludes, tongue in cheek, to the   birth of Chinese contemporary art, ,an art  without  roots in the modernist tradition. The ’85 movement was a “rebellion against the state ideology and the institutional apparatus of art” including a “philosophiocal discussion on modernity” in more than 80 unofficial art groups[20]. The climate changed when the China/Avantgarde exhibition was closed in Februar  1989 with the excuse of  a shooting incident. In the following years , the acceptance of art shifted to the market and cut off the artists’ from political influence. It was then that Political Pop and Cynical Realism reached an international audience.


The second panel  in GAM’s platform in New Delhi, in the fall of 2008, discussed the question “How global is Art History today?” .In the debates, the global competence of an implanted model of Western art history was denied for the Indian case(p.  ). The debates touched on several trajectories that today are controversial inIndia . Counter narratives increasingly  replace narratives of Western modernism with different concepts  such as the return to national narratives of Indian art. There was agreement among the participants that the colonial history  still unduly dominates the cultural topics inIndia and guides the attention to long time experiences with foreign art , while native traditions and aesthetics have little space in today’s art history.  The crisis of colonial based art history  in the mean time favours the decision for a new variant of Visual Studies which , following the model of theGoldsmithCollege inLondon, dominate curatorial education today and as a different paradigm replace art history with their transdisciplinary aims.


5.The  MOCA as a symbolic site.The global art production operates in a counterposition to art history, as it aims to  reclaim equality without the former borders between “art” and indigenous or popular production. It is in this spirit that museums in other parts of the world represent diversity in appearance and content even  in their  permanent art collections  .By implication, also Western art collections suddenly may look ’local’ in a new , and  unwelcome, sense. In order to create closer links with their local audiences,  museums in a Non-Western context in fact are tempted to follow a National or community line in their acquisition policies  and thus to be site specific in terms of a given cultural tradition. They have every reason for rethinking their part in the promotion and choice of what they consider as  art. They  may host  international exhibitions, but the biennials that have  spread recently all over the world, have taken over their old  role of exhibiting  and organizing avantgarde art.


Museums of contemporary art are no longer built with the idea  of art’s history but make the claim to represent an expanding  world in the  mirror of  contemporary art .Their boom does not mean that they continue the Western idea of an art museum. Rather, they differ  more in what they consider as art than they do by their architecture which is easier translatable from one place to another. After globalization has decentralized the world,  the  “free trade” ideology of   new economy  offers the rhetoric of “ free art” that provides no obliging models any more, as it is free in every direction to the degree that the market allows freedom[21]. Accordingly, the label “Museum of Modern Art” (MOMA)  is being more and more replaced by the branding  “Museum of Contemporary Art” (MOCA) . The majority of MOCAs are situated in the US where the Los Angeles MOCA  and the MassMOCA are the best known. But museums with that name are to be found also in Montreal, London, Lyon, Kagawa and Shanghai, and there is even a National MOCA of Korea. The MOCA is by implication global , as it celebrates contemporary production as an art without geographic borders and  without history in terms of Western modernism. The art market followed when Christie’s and Sotheby’s in recent years introduced “Contemporary and Postwar” as a new branding in their auction catalogues that replaced the label “Modern” as the familiar trademark of Western art (fig.  ).


In Asia,  art museums are being built with  the same speed ,as  biennials were founded in the two preceding decades. Their boom is unprecedented, but their destination is far from clear. In Japan, the trend  favours “a certain type of regional (Prefectural)museum” which lacks a collection and does not employ a curator , but accommodates “group exhibitions organized by the local artists” themselves [22] (p.  ). Masaaki Morishita calls them “empty museums” that serve temporary exhibitions like “Kunsthallen”, as they are called in German. “Museum”, under such premises, is a symbolic name for symbolic sites where art is even expected to be shown in the future.Museums are built like airports awaiting the arrival of international  art.What looks like a contradiction between boom and crisis (the boom of museum buildings and the crisis of their meaning), in fact  reveals a different relation to new audiences that are mostly unfamiliar with museum visits. Collectors with a market competence ( a kind of VIP in the artworld) do not need museums for themselves or are building museums on their own that however leave a  gap to local audiences with no art experience at all.


In addition to art collectors , local administrations fill the gap and introduce  ambitions of their own in ‘developing’ art in an urban frame and in creating so-called “cultural districts”.Oscar Hodescribes the Hongkong project  of huge  malls where also  art museums are expected to attract  a mass audience (p.   ).InShanghai, the authorities are building 100 new museums by 2010: “They are opening up more museums than Starbucks”. But such museums “have little linkage with the cultural experience of the general public” which they are meant to  attract. In their search for a new audience , museums soon may be forced to give up the competition with collectors’ museums and to make a decision whether to favour international tourism or to address  a local audience with an alternative to mainstream art such as visual culture or popular production from their own environment.


After the breakdown of the Japanese economy around 1990, local governments started to revitalize city centers with museums as a tool. Since 1955, 200 public museums had been built all over Japan. Department stores began to open museums on their own grounds  in order to attract clients with the exhibition of exceptional art works.The MoriArt Museumat Tokyois a corporate institution that is located on a few floors in a skyscraper where it offers new models for combining business with culture [23] (fig  ).. InChina, the museum boom has only began recently but will surpass anything ever seen in the museum scene. The international success of contemporary Chinese artists has led museum officials to discuss the building  of public institutions for their representation at home.


It is in the same line that Fan Di’An announces the opening of a  new wing of the National Art Museum of China (founded in 1958) with a location near the site of the Olympic games. In a recent interview , he regrets the lack of international art in Chinese collections and complains the little interest in the general audience  to visit museums [24] . In part , he says, the  collectors are responsible ,after collecting has become  a  business rather than an interest of the community . Chinese artists are usually better known abroad than at home where people are joking that they “are not making art but make prizes”.In the mean time,  single artists take action. Thus, Cai Guo-Chiang started in 2001 his series of mostly ephemeral MOCAs whose aim, as he wrote, was “a rebellion against the current system of MOMAs and MOCAs that have become detached from the public”[25] .  QMoCa  , planned for his native town Quanzhou, is a collaborative project with Foster and Partners. The model was shown at the Guggenheim New York and at the National Art Museum of China in 2008.


Another project is the Art Museum of the “iconic painter” Yue Minjun, located in the Sichuanprovince near the QingchenMountains  and designed by the Beijing-based Studio Pei-Zhu , responsible for “Digital Bejing”[26]. With its space of about  10.700 square meters , the museum will house the work of Yue Minjun when opening in 2009. It will be one of 10 new museums on the same site, each dedicated to the work of a single Chinese artist- such as Zhang Xiaogang and Wang Guangyi. The project  which is being developed by the local government of Dujingyan, realizes an idea of Lu Peng , professor at the China Central  Academy of Fine Art in Beijing. The new building, in the midst of nature, looks like a space ship that is landing  with a cargo of one painter’s art that carries a global branding . Its shape  of an oblong sphere , with curvilinear walls, is inspired by a river rock and according to the architect aims to  be “ both futuristic and very natural”(fig.  ).


5. Global Art and Modern Art The success of  modernization has  favoured the export of  Western art to other parts of the world where the corresponding urge to join the “developed” countries prepared the ground. Modern was  a “project” that was shared and imitated by new  political and economic elites who in  the postwar years hurried to catch up with the West,after the US had served as a guide for joining formerly European modernism. The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)in New York, still a recent institution in the war years and shortly thereafter, became a symbol for a successful competition with Europe  in cultural respects.The building of Museums of Modern Art  in Brazil (1948)and Japan(1951), later in India,  reveals a general rivalry with European leadership in the arts. But the  real problem remained with the definition of “what is art and what is not”, for the continuing hegemonial modernism still demanded the exclusion of artists other than Western(p.  ). The only alternative was an excesssive nationalism in the representation of modern art in order to counterbalance the colonial defintion.


Modern Art at the time was distinguished as modern form in art that even could mean only form without any subject matter when abstraction in the 1950s was recognized as a universal style, a “world language”, to use the rhetoric of those years[27] .The difference of global  art , given this background, is all too obvious , for it lacks any  common idiom in terms of  style and does not insist any longer on form as a primary or independant goal. Rather, art is  distinguished by  new proofs of professionalism such as contemporary subject matter and  a contemporary performance, usually a mixture of film, video and documentary materials. As a result, participation in the art world does not require the old entrance ticket of formal novelty and purity, as a proof of advanced art. It is rather the conscience that matters, preferably understood as a critical analysis of today’s most debated  (or neglected) issues. Originality , once expected from the artist’s self expression , has become a way to  take  position in contemporary issues.This also applies to the claim of identity other than Western,  that lives from an old resistance against modern hegemony . Inclusion and visibility are the new battle cries when artists  from formerly neglected cultures enter the stage.


Self performance , rather than self expression in an art work, has become a strategy for a new visibility  with one’s own ethnicity (p. ).. But  performance needs a public stage , with other words ,an art institution that  in many countries has  not yet been available.This necessity calls for the art museum even where the museum either lacks any history or suffers from the “wrong” history of colonialism. Current museum theory which has become a favoured academic subject, helps little to address this situation, because it is still a Western game  and also because it usually neglects case studies of today’s  museum practice, especially in countries without a proper museum tradition. “Rethinking the museum”, a slogan to be encountered in a vast  number of publications, is usually a topic  for Western societies where migration and multiculturalism demand a visible museum presence. But the same discussion applies to the crisis of exhibition art,  as it was practiced in high modernism. It has become  a new problem of art museums where objects (“works”) are replaced by installations and events


Will art museums retrace their historical role to offer a context for art, even where art takes   new , unexpected roads? In modern times, art was usually defined by an institutional framework. Art was what you saw in art museums.  It is for this reason that museums often became the target of an institutional critique , as artists called for a different kind of museum. Museum was context or provided a context. But museums  have lost their former authority as a given context, and the art market does not offer an alternative context. The result is a dangerous and far reaching de-contextualisation of art to the degree that art works are being sold even in places where they  have no local meaning and cannot translate their message for new audiences, but serve the taste of collectors who anyway operate in their own world. There remain the biennials. Though they create the dominant art discourse today, they cannot offer  a context beyond the event ( in fact, they live from a travelling clientele). The loss of context leaves  the museum again as a possible choice  for re-contextualisation, though with a new idea of what an art museum is  to be. Seen in this light, even museums without a collection may  become a context in places where art  needs an institutional presence. But instead  of representing a nation’s or a city’s art treasures, the idea of a forum waits for Non-Western art museums to discover their new  role. A forum offers a site for  the debate of what a community is ready to accept or to reject as art. We often forget that art museums, in the West, were created  from early on in order to shape or even to invent a proper art audience. This task today waits for them in many new places.


But there is one other role to be considered here. Art Museums, in the past,were not just displaying art but were narrating art history or presenting art in the mirror of  its own history. An official narrative helped to  situate  each work of art in space and time. Already art critics like Julius Meier Graefe or Herbert Read have propagated modern art as the spearhead of  (Western) art’s constant and linear  progress[28]. The term avant-garde ,with its military overtones, makes the idiomatic nature of this master narrative clear[29] . But history, in the guise of art history , followed an argument of its own when it  was defined both in terms of invention and of deconstruction. Creative invention , in the hands of an individual artist,was the never seen. Deconstruction, on the other hand, liberated art from the  too much seen. In both cases, it was new art that counted. But this argument suffered a damage in the 1960s when the much complained “death of the avant-garde” confirmed the loss of art’s claims to go ahead on a preconceived path[30].  The artists themselves broke with an ideal of history that also had provided a  matrix of timeless values. One generation later, the problem of valuing art within the frame of its history increases with the globalization of art.


6. Modern Art’s double exclusion. The definition of modern art, however was based on a double exclusion. First, the paradigm was reserved for Western art whose confines were to remain clean and protected. Making art was tantamount to making modern art. Artists who were unwilling or unable to follow this axiom, did not fall under the category of art at all. But even those who were  modern in their art but lived outside the West ,were not admitted to the ranks of official art history. Hence today the retrospective effort to retrace modern art  in other parts of the world and thus to fill in the blanks in written art history. The discussion of “forgotten” or “lost” avant-gardes today serves the reconstruction of the history of modernism but they were not “forgotten” but were dismissed in order to keep the picture of modernism clear . Rasheed Araeen has started to reclaim a share in the history of modernism that for a long time was denied for artists with a different provenance[31].  “The Other Story”, as Rasheed Araeen entitled an “exhibition of Afro-Asian artists in postwar Britain” in 1989,pointed to “the absence of non-European artists from the history of modern art”. The recovery of neglected names was an appeal to rethink modernism. Their absence in a way made the narrative of western modernism possible.The recovery of missing chapters in  modernism was the reason for Araeen to create the periodical Third Text in 1987. Recently, Patrick Flores curated a travelling exhibition with an alternative history of Asian art  where Cubism was introduced as a symbol of modern style.[32]  . Cubism’s  appropriation was “complex and differed with time and region.” When cubism was reused in order to tell the “visual narratives of myth and religion” inbAsia, it turned modernism against its own purist and universalist claims.. Exclusion also went with  the politics of  Western art schools that mediated a  canon of modern art by initiation in order to be accepted as professional artist. Thus, colonialism was a driving force in the spread of modern art though it often  met with the accord of those who wanted to become modern.


But modern art  also excluded ethnic artefacts that were looked at in the distorting  mirror of colonialism. Ethnic craftsmen were thought of living in a time outside history, much as the  colonies were removed by Hegel out of history that for him was a Western prerogative. The dualism of  art history and ethnology, two old academic disciplines,  equally was represented by two different, even opposite types of museums which testified against each other and yet complemented one another like the two sides of the same coin, as is the case in  Paris with the Centre Pompidou and the Musée du Quai Branly. “Primitivisim” ,the famous appropriation of Ethnic art by Picasso and other modernist artists, for the last time was celebrated in William Rubin”s 1984  show at the MoMa in the spirit of the old distinction of “art” and ethnic “influence” on art . In the mean time, the former dualism looses any clear boundaries. On the one side, ethnographic museums have begun to collect or even to commission contemporary art in their collections in order to cover their cultural geography with living art,as Claude Ardouin explains the situation in  the British Museum (p.  )(fig.  ). Art museums, on the other side, are expected to open their Western collections for today’s global art. The roles of ethnographers and art curators seem to be exchanged .  The former increasingly curate contemporary art, and the latter are studying art with  a cultural geography that had been for a long time the discussion of ethnography . At the same time, the difference between historians and anthropologists is shrinking,  as the new fields of ethno-history and historical anthropology prove  clearly. Ethnography  lost its momentum when modernization transformed  ( or destroyed) the traditional societies of their “field work” and also interrupted or exhausted the continuity  of “ethnic” arts and crafts that nicely seemed to represent the part of Western colonies..


7. Post-ethnic and Neo-Ethnic . It is  a result of contemporary art’s globalization that Non-Western artists reject the label ethnic and discover their ethnicity as a personal identity that no longer is encumberered with a racial bias . At the same time, artists in the West reject the label art history as their frame of reference which had reduced them to descendants of  a linear course of art history. The late modern discourse of post-history may have been a catalyst for both parties to meet on a common ground. Arthur Danto was one of the first to discover“the visual arts in a post-historical perspective” [33] “The Post-historical period”, as he writes, “means the end of a certain narrative, under the terms of which making art was understood as carrying forward” art history.But “ the master narrative of Western art is losing its grip, and nothing has taken its place”. Likewise, I have repeatedly discussed the crisis of art history (the “end of art history”) as an outmoded  model that is no longer appropriate for dealing with the art of our time[34]. The notion post-ethnic offers itself by analogy with the notion of post-historical. Much as their ethnic origin presents a problem for the one party , a given place in history has become an unwelcome burden for the other.


Artists are redefining their ethnicity as a personal role , and as a migration experience, that leads to  multiple identities in the sense that V.S.Naipaul has described his own persona  1988 in his autobiographical novel “The enigma of arrival”. It is a post-ethnic position to perform as  an “artist from Africa” rather than to suffer the label of an “African artist”. Chéri Samba, the artist from Zaire , offered a pertinent example when he created the “post-ethnic” role in a  self portrait as professional artist for Jean-Hubert Martin’s Paris exhibition “Magiciens de la terre” , the first event of global art, in 1989[35] (fig.  ). The self-portrait  is more than that, as it is a painted program that defines his departure  fromKinshasa toParis as a symbolical change of roles, from the ethnic role as “African artist” to the global role with an African ethniticy . The closed cage of his native environment opens up when the air plane brings him to  international presence or visibility. He poses in the picture not just with his likeness but with the performance of his artist self, an old privilege of Western artists. At the same time, he applies the visual language of popular media from his nativeZaire to make his new claims..


Holland Cotter speaks of  “a paradigm shift in contemporary art”.The “freestyle” exhibition in the StudioMuseumin Haarlemuses the label “postblack art” in the same sense that David A. Hollinger uses the term postethnicity[36]. The movement of multiculturalism in the 1990s, as Cotter  states, has been followed by a liberation from ethnic identity that defines ethnicity as a role rather than as a rule.  The crisis of history, on the Western side, opened the road for abolishing history’s counterpart, the exotism  of “the other”. History , for a long time, divided the world, but contemporaneity makes the claim of  crossing this division. Also geography used to separate “art”, as a Western possession,  from the ethnic, its counterpart in the colonies. “Primitivism” was a Western attitude that , even in its most idealistic formulation, was based on the cliché of the “primitive”  or the primordial that had become  a matter for nostalgia in modern times.


Whereas old frontiers  begin to waver , new ones are coming into sight. Neo-ethnic movements challenge art’s globalization  with a highly political tribalism in countries likeIndiawhere Hindu sects use them for their Nationalistic claims. The polemics against global  art

( and its life style connotations) is as obvious as the revival of traditional aethetics with religious connotations.A Neo-Hindu sect with  about 3000 centres in every part of the world, opened the temple district at Akshardam , at the outskirts of New Delhi,  in 2005 with the participation of 7000 artists who created traditional sculpures in a revival style that was to designate “true Indian art”  as a timeless style. This Neo-Ethnic movement operates outside the art world but makes the double claim to represent art and to globalize Indian art[37]


8. “New Media”  at the eve of global art. It appears in retrospect that globalization in art had several premises among which, in the first place, the electronic turn deserves our attention. “New media”  caused a revolution of what had been considered as art up to then. The reign of the “White Cube” , with its immaculate exhibition concept, suffered a damage when video and installation art invaded the art space with the  technologies  of   mass media that increased the presence of art and crossed its borderline to every day media experience. Suddenly, art seemed to enter the realm of public communication . But it transmitted private statements that carried the voice of a single artist to a single viewer.Art’s new media were as global, as painting or sculpture never had been. They offered global tools, before artists on a global scale got hold of them. The medium, to modify a famous definition, carried a global message, as it removed not only geographical but cultural distance between center and periphery.Film and TV, with their plain narratives , made art democratic for the viewer. Art  shared the working tools or visual language with mass media but differed from them  by its critical message. “Contemporary”  already was the electronic performance. The step  to global art was taken when artists introduced  statements  that were rooted in their world experience and cultural background. The global uniformity of the new media   was soon counterbalanced by art’s  multiform  messages  that represented  the global universe  in local views . This usage explains why global art does not look everywhere the same.


Nam June Paik (1932-2006), the Korean born“ father of Video Art”, did the first steps   around 1960 when he transferred his training in Electronic music to “ Electronic Art” in Germany. In the beginnings, he cunnigly subverted the mainstream TV programs and turned them into “abstract images” that simulated “art” with TV technology. He became soon also a forerunner of global Art when he challenged the Western art scene with the  utopian vision of art’s global communication via satellite TV  . Thus, on New Year’s day of 1984 he staged “celestial duetts” of  artists “through electronic contact simultaneously in New York, Paris, Seouland Cologne”[38] . In  Jean-Hubert’s Paris exhibition from 1989 (p.  ), he participated with a drawing  of a grid of empty TV frames  that recalls his TV-project  “Bonjour, Mr.Orwell”. The  TV frames are set against a center where their arbitrary images are circulating with the label “Wrap around the world”[39] (fig  ). Paik in a way succeded in  a personal globalization when he performed ubiquity as an artist , but he only  could defend his artistic self by contrasting it with the “noise” and emptiness of the global imagery of the mass media .


The anthology “Video Art” from 1976 which was the first of its kind , represented the visions offered by the new technology  in an euphoric spirit. Their aim, as we read, was to “create works of art that directly acknowledged both complicity with and critical distance from popular culture”[40]. The main attraction for the audience was the double impact of immediacy (live images) and intimacy (monitor ) which seemed to eliminate the distance usually felt in the face of auratic art. Video Installations, in turn,  created “immersive”rooms where visitors forgot the museum and enjoyed a kind of TV experience in a dark room with sound and moving images. The democratisation of art which Walter Benjamin once expected from photography, was accomplished instead by technologies such as video. The new working tools  were to change the art scene for ever. Artists who until then had been forced to attend an art school in the Western tradition,  suddenly could work with low cost video cameras  that became available around the globe .


9. Pop Art and its legacy.Another premise of art’s globalization may have been the global sucess of Pop Art whose popular face  contrasted with the aristocatic, hermetic canvases of Abstract Expressionism. ‘Vernacular’ and mass media images  that Clement Greenberg had banned from abstract art like an Old Testament prophet , now  populated  large scale paintings that  superficially resembled vulgar public advertisements.Reality had become tantamount to the reality of the media world and its clichés , and therefore Pop was misunderstood when it was first understood as  “critical”  in Europe. American Pop even repudiated art as a personal creation and ventured into a playful competition with  mass media . With its attack on art’s autonomy , Pop had been one among several competing art currents in the West . In the new art geography, in contrast,  it was welcomed as  an easy entrance ticket for global art in joining Western art. Pop imagery seemed to promise a shared mirror in which the world looked “flat” everywhere.. In the mean time, the pendulum swings back  when the West adores a Chinese Neo-Pop that surpasses anything ever seen in familiar  Pop .This also applies to the Chinese recycling of Andy Warhol’s old Pop icon of Mao that in the Seventies had recycledChina’s political icon . In the mean time, Chinese Neo-Pop  has eclipsed the prizes of Western art on the global market.


In April 2007, Sotheby’s sold nine Mao portraits of Zeng Fanzhi (b.1964) in its Hong Kongbranch.  In the evening sale on October 19,2008, the Londonbranch sold the complete set of Warhol’s Mao screenprints (1972). Two weeks before, at the evening sale of October 4 in Hong Kong,  Sotheby’s offered a major work by the same Zeng Fanzhi with the title “After Long March Andy Warhol arrived in China” (2005). The work is regarded as “Neo-expressionist” but the artist who had painted the companion piece “Chairman Mao with us”  in the same year, chose Warhol’s private visit to China in 1982 as his subject (fig.  ).Warhol, still largely unknown at the time in China, travels with a “Shanghai forever” bicycle through China. Ai Weiwei who also wrote an essay on Warhol’s China photographs, regards Warhol’s visit as “ a founding moment for the idea of a Chinese contemporaneity”. The Chinese, he continues, had not yet undergone  “ the capitalist spectacle out of which his art has grown”[41].


10. Contemporary art’s market history..Christie’s and Sotheby’s started a new marketing strategy when contemporary art, as distinct from mainstream modern art, was first auctioned in the Seventies[42]. The boom of contemporary art reached a first climax in November 1988, when  private collections, not just famous artists, achieved  record prizes[43] . In the postwar years, the market was still struggling with the predominance of  old masters whose market  sucess was for a long time unbroken even on the heyday of modernism and always pops up  when, like today, the contemporary market undergoes a crisis. Marlborough Fine Arts was the first to  introduce marketing strategies in promoting  recent art when it opened a New York gallery in 1963. In the same year, Sotheby’s New York branch took over the distinguished auction house Parke –Bernet  where it not only changed the rules but also the character of the works for auction. But it was not until the spring of 1965 ,with the sale of the Dotremont collection, that  contemporary art was first auctioned on a large scale by Sotheby’s.[44]. What may look like a long time for some, in a historical perspective is like a momory from yesterday.


When the Yen currency was upgraded in 1985, the Japanese  drove the prizes to an unprecedented level and , in their excitement , dismissed the rules and the rituals that had been agreed between the former insiders. The  apogee of the Japanese art market ended as suddenly, as it had begun, but it changed the game for ever[45]. It is precisely the fact that all art markets are cyclical  that increases the appetite for the game more than art does by its own attraction, and it is not the permanence of art’s quality but the newness of art’s performance that gets attention. The economic cycle, as Robert Brenner described it in his book  “The boom and the bubble”[46], finds a more spectacular stage in the art trade. Around 1990, ”rhe bubble that burst was pricked by the sudden withdrawal of Japanese buying from the market”[47] . Other recessions have followed.  The famous Damian Hirst sale  at London, on September 15 and 16, 2008, where the artist bypassed his gallerists, begun a few hours , before the credit markets in New York started to collapse. It seems like a coincidence but it may be not. As a matter of fact, the sale had been prepared on a global scale with  previews in other parts of the world also including a show in a five star Hotel at New Delhi [48] .


11. Auction houses. The event character of public auctions mobilizes outsiders , as does the seeming transparency that encourages newcomers without a prior art experience.

Don Thompson complains the investment value of the new trade where collectors, as he quotes the art dealer Mary Boone , “buy art like lottery tickets”[49]. And, yet, the new clientele makes it difficult to judge their interests with the former value system of art collecting, wenn life style matters more than connaisseurship. Auction houses, with their new branches , have become the most important agent of the global turn . They today attract a clientele even from countries where art collecting had no tradition at all. The secondary market, thus, changes contemporary art more profoundly than the primary market of galleries could ever expect Today, the Art Market reaches  a clientele from 58 countries, against 38 in 2003, as Christies’s  announces[50].


A German Newspaper took the new state of things for granted when it wrote in the fall of 2008 that “the Chinese avantgarde is firmly established but German art is still very strong”, or that “Phillips goes its own ways by throwing Russian art on the market”[51] . The new clients were encouraged with the offer of guarantees, as they were not ready to take the whole risk but feared the unpredictable mood of the art community. But the guarantees in turn contributed to the losses of Sotheby’s and Christie’s liquidity in the November 2008 sales[52]. In fact, the guarantee practice  , in the moment of its failure,  reveals a new feature of the art trade, as art does not any longer promise success on its own  but , at the place of  individual quality , like everything else depends on the general rules of the market.


It is not the presence but the difference of the art market that matters here. A new class of investors  does not only introduce new money but also a new taste which makes the whole game unpredictable. The gap widens between the small circle of global players who bid on auctions, and the general audience whose art experience depends on exhibitions. Collectors’ names that are of no interest  for a  museum audience, offer a better  branding on the market than artists’ names whose value appears uncertain.Lately, Sotheby’s and Christie’s have started to indicate the importance of a former owner. Thus, one reads “Property of a distinguished collector” or “Property  of an important European collection”. It is remarkable that the nationality of the former owner , rather than that of the artist, receives the most attention . The speed with which collections are resold, clearly proves that art collecting has become an  investment and speculation issue.


The so-called “Estella Collection”, an arbitrary name for “the most important collection of contemporary Chinese art”, was brought together for three investors by the Manhattandealer MichaelGoedhuis who once had dealt with old Chinese and Persian arts and crafts. Shortly thereafter, the project took another direction ,and Goodhuis exhibited 84 “museum quality masterworks” from the collection in his own name at the Louisianamuseum ,Denmarkin the spring of 2007. The museum produced the large size  catalogue “China Onward” whose cover presented one of Zhang Xiaogang’s “Bloodline” series [53](fig.  ). When the exhibition reached the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, another Manhattan Dealer, William Acquavella, bought the collection off the museum walls in August 2007. Half a year later, the new owner  joined forces with Sotheby’s  which offered the first part of the collection for sale in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center on April 9, 2008 (fig.  ). After the collection had been shown in previews in Beijing, Shanghai, New York, Singapore and Taipei, its first half brought nearly 18 Million US-Dollars. In total, Sotheby’s sold  works  for 51.77 Million  Dollars on that day, an unsurpassed record in Chinese contemporary art [54] .


Although art’s complicity with the market is manifest, the exhibition practice of museums   continues to simulate an  immaculate picture of art’s independance and creativity. The  illusion that art is just a personal matter of creation and self expression,  is protected by art collectors and nomadic curators  who keep their economic experience as a secret in the face of the general audience. In fact, the museum space  leaves the audience unaware of the economic conditions behind the works in an exhibition. . The art trade seems to  leave no trace on the surface of the works which you become to see. Some artists however start to counteract this rritual when they lift the veil from art’s involvement with the market. “The problem is no longer that art works will end up as commodities, but that they will start out as such”, as Thomas McEvilly wrote already in 1991[55]. But ,today,some art museums  begin to reveal art’s economic backstage whose existence  the labels beside the works for a long time have obscured. The Whitney Museum show “The price of everything “ from 2007 is a case in point. “Taking its title from Oscar Wilde’s definition of the cynic as a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing”, as the introduction explains, “the exhibition explores how artists have responded to the distinction between price and value, or to the erasure of that distinction”. In pursuing this goal, the exhibition “deals directly with the economic conditions of art’s production, reception, and circulation”[56].


One of the pieces in the exhibition, Elmgreen and Dragset’s “Prada Marfa”(2005) (fig.  )features  a display of the fall collection of Prada shoes and handbags, but seals  the shop and locates it in the desert outside of Donald Judd’s  Marfa in Texas.The work “suggests that the dislocated art works can just as easily become sites of fashionable consumption  for the growing field of art tourism and its itinerary of art fairs”. The installation-photo-edition of the two artists may be “interpreted as making the point that commercialism has outspaced  any acitivity that does not have market value” On the other hand, the work allows the reading  that “a mock store .with a sealed entrance  dislocates not only the artwork but also the actual market place , the store, to an abandoned site. Rendering its commercial function useless”,the site represents “ a desolate ruin of yesterday’s fashion”[57].


11. Collectors’ and corporate  museums are a further premise in our context.They promote a personal taste  as a new standard for the art experience of an urban or national audience. In some places, they alone control the access to national or international art. Two examples reveal an opposite evaluation of modern viz. contemporary art. At Istanbul, the  three respective museums, all private or corporate, have opened in the last ten years. They preferably present modern art , but not  necessarily international art. “Istanbul Modern” is one of them. The museum is beautifully situated at the Bosporus where it is a  neighbour of a 19th century mosque and  thus mirrors the dualism in modern Turkey (fig  ).. It has been founded by the Eczacibasi family which strictly guides the exhibition policy of the museum. The “Pera Museum”, opened in June 2005 , is controlled by the Suna and Inan Kirac Foundation. A third museum, the “Santral Istanbul” ,  in fact is an “energy museum” and does not start with  an art collection of its own. Thus, 20 years after the opening of the first Istanbul Biennial[58],  contemporary art does not figure prominently in any of the existing museum collections. In an exhibition of the Santral Museum from the fall of 2007 and dedicated to the history of 20th century Turkish art, a mission statement informed the visitor that “curators responsible for organizing international exhibitions added Istanbul to their itineraries, as artists registered success in the international milieu. Using new image technologies and the resources offered by the new media”, some artists “placed the museum, as also art history and the art curating under their magnifying glass”, while others questioned “the inclusion of Turkey in the global art network”.


The other example is to be found in India. Private collectors have an increased influence in countries where National or urban museums have failed to  promote living art. In New Delhi, the National Museum of Modern Art ( 1954 ), a response to India’s independance, no longer attracts an audience that anyway regards museums as a colonial memory. Instead, the young generation flocks to the  Poddar collection , comprising more than  “ 2000 works that include commissions and folk art”[59] The “Devi Art Foundation” whose collector , Anupam Poddar ,also acts as director, is situated in Gurgaon, a global city hardly  ten years old with golf recincts and shopping malls at the outskirts of  New Delhi. The city is the scene of Aravind Adiga’s much debated novel about the new India . The collection  addresses an emerging upper class  with an offer of international  life style in art collecting.The opening exhibition of contemporary Indian art , on an international  level, attracted the visitors also by a domestic choice of subject matter[60].  It is quite symbolic that the museum was still  a construction site when it opened its doors for the public in August 2008(fig.  and  ).In the catalogue “Still Moving Image”, the collector explains his decision for National Indian artists who however soon will be joined by artists from the whole of the sub-continent.


We are still thinking in  Western categories of  a public museum which is controlled by a body of experts in its acquisition policy. But the lack of any such control in other territories invests a private collector  with a lot of  power in creating a local art audience just by himself.

Collectors in the meanwhile form a kind of global body for the development of  a local art market. Thus, 100 collectors from all over the world were invited to attend  ,in November 2008, the Gulf version of French art fairs, Art Paris, in  Abu Dhabi that is supported by the  authority for culture and heritage. Their tourist program included a visit of the crown princess’s collection of some 400 contemporary art works from the Middle East, mostly acquired at the local art fairs. The gallerists , in the mean while, were appeased with the information that the local museums that are under construction, “will be bying art at a future date.”[61]


But public museums , if they can afford to bid on auctions at all, are not always welcome on the market , since permanent collections   stop the free flow of the art trade . Museums cannot be sold and resold. They only can be opened or closed. Besides, museums are not built  for accepting everything as art, unless they risk to give up the definition of art altogether. Rather, they have to decide whether to go with the market or to counteract the market .  They do not sell but they have to explain. But explain what? And to whom?The temporality of museums , so distinct from the flux of everyday time, was for a long time tantamount to the history of their collection or to a history  that is manifested in their collection.. Today, they must rethink their mission when they are expected to represent the rapidly changing  world  in the mirror of single art works.. Their fate is still  with their audience whose identity claims  that have become the main concern in cultural terms. They need the presence of history , to be sure, of history that matters for a local community or a nation. History , however, has to be represented or rediscovered , and sometimes  reinvented,, as it is threatened by a global traffic of goods and ideas.


12. Conclusion.The changing artworld  does not allow any longer  to disregard globalization  as a  mere  fashion or as a  phantom. Yet the term “global art” still meets with  reluctance, although globalization  is the single most  important event in today’s art scene, even eclipsing the appearance of new media  art a generation ago. But global art carries an internal antagonism with it, as it strengthens resistance and turns identity claims  against the “free”  flux of media and markets in the  age of “hypermodernity”[62]. Marc Augé speaks “of the utter newness of the present situation.”[63] “The world’s inhabitants have at last become truly contemporaneous, and yet the world’s diversity is recomposed every moment. We must speak ,therefore, of worlds in the plural, understanding that each of them communicates with the others” . The planetarization of information may have removed old borderlines but  the same media make old and new contrasts even more visible [64].This antagonism also applies to art museums which continue to be “site specific” not only as architecture, but also by their audience. They are born as places for  representing the local situation in the face of global art traffic. The global , for any audience, adopts a  local significance. In this respect, museums continue to be  symbolic sites and outposts of a given culture or a community living in a foreign culture. The task is  to balance the sharing with the owning. The sharing may be global, but the owning inevitably remains local.


Global art did not come overnight or as a mere “accident” but had a long incubation period whose results have only  become visible now. Its history is intimately linked to the political and economic changes that made art a symbol of global free trade. To quoteJulian Stallabrass ,“the global events of 1989 and after – the reunification of Germany, the fragmentation of the Soviet Union, the rise of global trade agreements, the consolidation of trading blocks, and the transformation of China into a partially capitalist economy – changed the character of the art world profoundly”[65] .With the establishment of a ‘new world order’ , “the art world swiftly reconfigured itself. A rash of art events peppered the globe, while artists of many nations, ethnicities, and cultures long ignored in the West were born to critical and commercial success”. The rise of  multicultural art shows “exactly coincides with the end of the cold war “. London and Paris, two cities with a colonial history, saw 1989 the first shows of this kind .One of them was Jean Hubert Martin’s legendary exhibition “Les magiciens de la terre”  which was both hailed as “the first global exhibition of contemporary art” and criticized as the wrong start in that  it tempted “to exotize Third World artists” [66]   .


Global art often escapes the arguments of art history, as it no longer follows a master narrative and contradicts modernity’s claim to be or to offer a universal model. It therefore is noteworthy that two new books on global art have chosen another discussion of the present state of art. Julian Stallabrass whose title “Art incorporated” is significant enough, analyzes, in one of his chapters, the “new world order” and, in another chapter,the impact of our “consuming culture” on  new art[67] .Charlotte Bydler, for her book, uses the even more explicit title  “The Global Art World Inc.”[68] In fact, she analyzes two issues which are not common in art criticism. These are, on the one hand, institutional history and, on the other hand, the dissolution of a mainstream concept of art. Thus, the two books make evident that global art has continued art’s exodus from art history.




[1] Enrico Navarra,Paris art dealer, interviewed by H.F.Debailleux, in : Fabrice Bousteau, ed. ,Made by…(In the Arab world )(Galerie E.Navarra, Paris 2008) vol.a, p.15


[3] The Art Newspaper 196, Nov.2008, p.67


[4] J.Sans, Diary of Fast Moving Lands, Vol. 3 of “Made by…”(In the Arab World..Now) (Gal.E.Navarra, Paris 2008) p.15ff

. .

[5] The text , in fact,continues the arguments of an earlier essay , Contemporary art and the museum that was published in the first volume of the project GAM “ Contemporary art and the museum in the global age” H.Belting, in:Peter Weibel and Andrea Buddensieg, ed., (Stuttgart, Hatje Cantz 2007, p.16-38.


[6]John Onians, A new new geography of art museums, in: Weibel-Buddensieg, 2007, p.124ff. and J.Onians, ed., Atlas of World Art (London, Laurence King 2004) with 68 contributors and covering the whole history of human picture production


[7] K.Zijlmans-W.van Damme, ed, World art studies: Exploring concepts and approaches (Valiz, Amsterda, 2008)


[8] A. Malraux, Le musée imaginaire (first published inParis 1948).


[9] Sally Price, Primitive Art in Civilized Places (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1985).


[10] Cf. note 10 and Belting, in: Weibel-Buddensieg, 2007, p.33


[11] Jean Louis Pradel, World Art Trends (Abrams Puublishers, N.York 1982)


[12] Moira Simpson, A world of museums, in: Antonio Pinto Ribeiro , ed, The State of the World (Carcanet Press,London and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation,Lisbon  1996, p.94.


[13] Simpson ( as in note 7 p.102


[14] J.Onians, ed, Atlas of World Art (London 2004) and D.Summers, Real Spaces: World Art History and the rise of Western Modernism (London 2003). Cf.James Elkins’ critique , in : J.Elkins, ed, Is Art History global? (Routledge,New York 2007), p.41ff.


[16] Elkins,2007, p.22f.


[17] I owe this reference toJames Elkins who , together with Alice Kim and Zhivka Valiavicharska,

is editing the forthcoming volume   “Art and Globalization” (2009)


[18] H.Belting, Art History after Modernism (Chicago Univ.Press 2003)



[19] Anthony D.King, ed., Culture, Globalization and the World System (Binghalton , NY 1991)p.VIII


[20] (Gao Minglu, in: Global Conceptualism, Queens Museum of Art 1999,p.131) .


[21] J.Stallabrass, Art Incorporated. The story of contemporary art (Oxford Univ.Press , Oxford 2004)p.1ff.


[22] Masaaki Morichita, Struggles between curators and artists, in: Museum and Society, July 2007, p.86ff. and esp. p.89

[24] The Art Newspaper 196, Nov.2008, p. 22


[25] Cf. Alexandra Munroe, ed., Catalogue Cai Guo –Qiang: I want to believe (Guggenheim Museum ,New York 2008), p. 242. Cf. Also and the soft cover publication released by the National Art  Museum of China:Everything is museum (Beijing 2008)


[27] Abstraktion als Weltsprache. Cf. Lazlo Glozer, ed. ;Westkunst. Zeitgenössische Kunst seit 1939 (Cologne; DuMont 1981)p.192f.


[28] H.Belting, Commentary to Julius Meier-Graefe, Emtwicklungsgeschichte der modernen Kunst Vol.II(Munich, Piper 1987) p. 728-760


[29] H.Belting, as in note 6, p.12ff and 126ff.


[30] H.E.Holthusen, ed., Avantgarde. Geschichte und Krise einer Idee (Munich 1966);C.Finch, On the absence of an avant-garde, in: Art Studies for an Editor (N.York 1975, p.168ff.Cf.also Belting, as in note 6 , with further literature.


[31] AboutRasheed Araeen and his periodical Third Text, founded in 1987, cf. the essay of Andrea Buddensieg, Visibility in the Art World: The voice ofRasheed Araeen, in: Weibel-Buddensieg, 2007, p..50-65


[32] Cubisme: l’autre rive. Resonances en Asie (Catalogue Japan Foundation,mTokyo 2007); Cubism in Asia:Unbounded Dialogues (Tokyo,Singapore, Paris 2005- 2007)


[33] Arthur Danto, Beyond the Brillo-Box. The visual arts in post-historical perspective (Farrar Straus Giroux, New York 1992) p.10


[34]Hans Belting, Das Ende der Kunstgeschichte? (Munich, Deutscher Kunstverlag 1983); cf.also my newer version: Art History after Modernism (Chicago Univ.Press 1992)p.116f.


[35]Catalogue “Magiciens de la terre” (Paris 1989)p.223. Cf.also the photograph in „Connaissance des Arts” 449, 1989, p.60 where he poses  in front of his self portrait, and the view of his preparatory exhibition in Kinshasa, 1988, where the audience flocks to the site in order to share the excitement of his departure to France: Les Cahiers du Musée Nat.d’Asrt Moderne, 28, Summer 1989, Cover


[36]Holland Cotter, Beyond Multiculturalism,Freedom?, in: The New York Times, July 29, 2008. Cf. David A. Hollinger, PostethnicAmerica. Beyond multiculturalism (Berkeley 1996)


[37] Cf. Jyatindra Jain’s book “India’s popular culture . Iconic spaces and fluid images (Marc Publications, New Delhi 2007)    and the catalogue: Swaminarayan Akshardham: Making and Experience (New Delhi 2007) with the slogan “Where art is ageless, culture is borderless, values are timeless”.


[38] Nam June Paik, Beuys Vox (Won Gallery, Seoul 1986, p.67)


[39] Catalogue;Magiciens de la Terre (Paris 1989)p.212-213


[40] David Ross, The personal attitude, in; Ira Schneider- Beryol Korot, ed., Video Art. An Anthology (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, London 1976)p.246


[41]  Quote from Sotheby’s Evening Sale “Modern and Contemporary Asian Art”on 4 October, 2008 (without page numbers) in an essay on Zeng’s work


[42]Watson, 1992, 328ff.and412ff. Cf. Olav Velthuis, Talking Prices . Symbolic Meanings of prices on the market for Contemporary Art (Princeton Univ.Press 2005)



[43] Watson, 1992, p.416


[44] Peter Watson, From Manet to Manhattan .The rise of the modern art market(London 1992)p.332 and 339ff.



[45]. Watson,1992,p.410.


[46] Robert Brenner, The boom and the bubble; The US in the global economy (Eco ;London 2001)


[47] J. Stallabrass, Art Incorporated. The story of Contemporary Art (Oxford University Press:Oxford, 2004)p.23


[48] Marion Maneker, in; Art Market Review, October 12,2008 and The tTimes, Serptember 2,2008-12-18


[49] Don Thompson, The $12 Million stuffed shark. The curious economics of contemporary art” (Palgrave MacMillan, New York 2008)p.248

[50] Auction Catalogue, November 2007


[51] October 6, 2007: Franfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: Kunstmarkt


[52] Roger Bevan, Bitter costs of excessive guarantees increasingly felt.New York contemporary sales report, in: The Art Newspaper No. 197, December 2008, p.-55.


[53] Carol Vogel, Inside Art, in: The New York Times, March 28, 2008 and Adrian Ellis, in :Arts Newspaper, April 2008)


[54] Sotheby’s : The Estella Collection (Hong Kong 9 April 2008),  Auction Catalogue.. Cf.also the Catalogue: “Made inChina. Works from the Estella Collection” published by theLouisianaMuseum inDenmark  (Copenhagen 2007)


[55] Thomas McEvilley, Art and Discontent. Theory at the Millenmnium (Kingston, New York 1991)p.15f.


[56] The price of everything…perspectives on the art market (WhitneyMuseum ofAmerican Art and Yale Univ.Press (May-June 2007)p.5


[57] Martin Braathen, The commercial significance of the  exhibition space, in : Catalogue “The price of ecverything” (see previous note) p.16


[58] David Elliott,ed, Time present, time past. Highlights from 20 years of the International Istanbul Biennial (Istanbul , Exhibition Catal. 2007)


[59] (, Asian Art Archive ).

[60] Deeksha Nath, ed., Still Moving Image (Devi Art Foundation2008)


[61] Georgina Adam and Antonia Carver, “Sales Slow as Gulf Waits for Planned Museums to Buy,” in: The Art Newspaper, No. 197, December 2008, p. 57.


[62] Marc Augé, Non-Lieux´. Introduction à une anthropologie de la surmodernité (Paris 1992)


[63] M. Augé, An Anthropology for Contemporaneous Worlds (Stanford University Press: Stanford, 1999) p. 14.


[64] Augé, 1999, p. 89.


[65] Stallabrass ,2004, p. 10f.


[66] Connaissance des Arts, 1989, 449, 1989, p.57


[67] Stallabrass (cf. Note 17)



[68] Charlotte Bydler, The Global Artworld Inc.; On the globalization of contemporary art(Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis: Figura Nova Series 32, Uppsala 2004

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