Edited by Ruth Towse and Christian Handke
The advent of digitization has had a profound impact on the art market and its institutions. In this chapter, we focus on the market for visual arts as it finds its expression in (among others) paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, sculpture and the like. These artistic disciplines claim the lionís share of the global art trade, and its objects are prominently featured by museums and galleries in both old and new art centers worldwide. Digital delivery has altered not only the content of the visual arts, but also the manner in which art is traded, consumed and valued. The various actors in the art market have embraced digitization in its many guises and forms, and its online applications, albeit at different speeds and with different intensity. The vast majority of art institutions (including artists themselves) make use of websites and incorporate databases for organizational, educational and marketing purposes. However, few have yet learned to effectively capitalize on Web 2.0 applications, even if social media offer unparalleled opportunities for community building in the art world (Castells, 2011). The largely informal and opaque character of the art market with its continued emphasis on closed dealerñcollector networks and face-to-face contacts appears to pre-empt widespread use of social media for now. Still, as with other sectors of the creative economy, the art world and market are undergoing significant changes as a result of the digital revolution.
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