Geographies of the Super-Rich

Geographies of the Super-Rich

Edited by Iain Hay

This timely and path-breaking book brings together a group of distinguished and emerging international scholars to critically consider the geographical implications of the world’s super-rich, a privileged yet remarkably overlooked group.

Chapter 11: Making art history – wealthy private collectors and contemporary visual art

Melanie Fasche

Subjects: economics and finance, regional economics, geography, economic geography, human geography, urban and regional studies, regional studies

Extract

Investments in the next generation of canonical artists are made now. In the Western-rooted art world reputation and legitimation of artists and their artworks traditionally come with exhibitions, reviews and sales – especially acquisitions for public museum collections. This process of making art historical and commercial value for artists and their artworks is driven by the interrelated dynamics of status, demand and price. Growing global demand for contemporary visual art, the enormous sums private collectors are willing to spend, and shifting philanthropic practices have been changing the geography and organization of making art history. Rising prices and growing competition for artworks make acquisitions by cash-strapped public museums for their public collections more difficult. Furthermore worldwide the conventional philanthropic practices of donating artworks and eventually entrusting private collections to public museums are being abandoned by a growing number of wealthy private collectors. Instead these private collectors pursue more comprehensive philanthropic missions by moving into what has traditionally been the domain of public museums, curators, critics and historians. They create private museums showcasing their private collections thereby emulating more-or-less the scholarly and social role of public museums. These private museums have become central in places where public museums are weak or unfamiliar institutions and public access to contemporary visual art limited.

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