I review the reviews of Ben Davis's important book from 2013, 9.5 Theses on Art and Class.

"It is no surprise, then, that for Davis the notion of the "art world" is a morally questionable and false construction since it serves to obfuscate class relations that permeate its supposed boundaries. Davis helps us understand how people that live, work, and think in the art world are quite possibly engaging in the milieu most deeply informed by demarcations of class boundaries. Consider that one’s intellectual engagement with modern art is in almost all cases somehow traceable to a discourse that emanated from the "ivory tower" where a disinterested class of persons are able to dedicate time to contemplating the subtle brushstrokes of Matisse in a world removed from the realities of economic subjugation. Davis knows this and uses it as direct call to action, a radical action involving our re-valuation of creativity. To separate out "art" as the coded, historically contingent ideology and "art" as broader concept."

Full piece here

Posted
AuthorMike Pepi
Categoriesthoughts

Why put artists in a class based on their relations as producers? It is only recently that artists produced work in a field with a robust and open market for it. Artist’s classlessness has its intellectual birth after Modernism. The debate over artists’ class only arises after the appearance of the market for living artists and the concomitant challenges to the academy’s ability to temper taste and production. Unless we unpack this from the start, parts of Davis’ formulations regarding artists’ relations to activist politics are the forced manifesto of a de-historicized worldview dominated by a concern for direct, effective action.

 

Posted
AuthorMike Pepi