Although Post Capitalistic Auction reflects more, I hope, than just a utopian dream, its conception can be traced back to the youthful utopian mind of my 18-year-old self, when I was a freshman at university. A casual conversation between my cousin and myself ended with me asking: “Why do artworks end up in the hands on the rich? Why isn’t it people who really understand art and artists who own their work? Why does money decide everything? ” My cousin’s silence and his indulgent smile gave me a clear answer: “Isn’t that how it should be? Doesn’t everyone agree on that?”

Born and growing up in Beijing, the capital city of newly wealthy China, I have witnessed in the 12 years since leaving university, the rapid and deep embedding and justification of capitalism in every aspect of economic and cultural life — although obviously not on a national, ideological level. In China, as in the capitalist West, whoever holds the biggest share in a corporation, has the final say. In commercial movie making, whoever invests the most money, has the power to make decisions that can extend as far as selecting the cast.

I have no intention of criticizing corporations or the commercial movie industry here, as they are so evidently inextricably bound up with the capitalist mechanism. But what about art? Is it by definition different? In the past, artists such as Joseph Beuys and movements like Situationism persistently tried to de-commodify art. But despite the push to abstraction and conceptualization, art and artists have struggled to extricate themselves from the very material pull of both financial and social capital.

Art auctions are a powerful reflection of the paradox that even though we create an aura of ‘otherness’ around a work of art, its material (and therefore prosaic) value remains. I am not claiming that people who buy art don’t have a true love of art, or that an auction is nothing more than a financial game. Many collectors have a close and ongoing relationship to, and understanding of, the work that they buy. But, as Henri Neuendorf – a journalist at artnet Berlin – observes, others are certainly in it purely for the money. And regardless of who is buying, in an auction environment, it is always and only money that talks. And this is an exchange in which artists have no voice.

Moreover, money translates to social and symbolic capital for the exclusive group of participants in an art auction or fair. Despite postmodernism’s attempt to challenge the elitism of the art world, it has continued to defend the territories of its various cliques. Since it seems unavoidable that everything has its price, that money is power, and that status is also tied to the value of ideas, how can art extricate itself from this complex of forces? The values we attribute to art are a reflection of how we evaluate within the social, cultural, political and economic structures within which it is embedded. In the end, value reflects what are important for us.

Can I suggest a new value system to replace the current one? No, I can’t. But this does not mean we can’t call it into question. And already, the rise of information-based social structures is a challenge to capitalism. Journalist and author Paul Mason claims the transition to post-capitalism has already begun. It doesn’t matter if we agree on what post-capitalism is, or indeed whether we are heading towards being a post-capitalist society, it is clear that the internet and information technology has had a huge impact on our social and economic relationships. Economic and Social theorist Jeremy Rifkin discusses this in detail in his book The Third Industrial Revolution; How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World, as does Futurist thinker Kevin Kelly in The Inevitable. Financial capital plays an unprecedented role in the development of business. On the other hand, big data and attention resources are predicated by many to be the next most valuable capital. Company mergers are more and more prevalent, but at the same time we see that the spontaneous rise of collaborative production and a sharing economy is challenging private ownership and the monopoly of big corporations. The behavior model and values of the digital generation should address a familiar question but in a new context. What change will this make on how art is accessed, possessed and valued? Rooted in this social and economic change, Post Capitalistic Auction looks into our current value mechanisms, as well as trying to propose new parameters.

Post Capitalistic Auction is an opportunity to bid for art using currencies other than money. But it doesn’t exclude money, and doesn’t intend to orient the bidding towards a non-money or anti-money result, since capitalism, as a long-establish economic system functioning in many ways like a religion, is deeply bound up with how human beings co-exist on many levels. In Post Capitalistic Auction, different values come together in dialogue. People within or outside the art field, with or without auction experience, are equally involved. Artists, collectors, dealers, critics, art lovers, art sceptics, etc. encounter each other and present their perspectives. There is reflection, but not judgement, there is investigation but no manipulation, there is dialogue but no exclusion.

This project is planned as a long term, ongoing series in different countries, aiming to investigate within different social and art economies and ecologies. Imagine how different the results of Post Capitalistic Auction will be in Beijing – a new booming market, where the evaluation of art is highly financialized, in comparison to London, where there is not only a strong tradition in both the mainstream academic and underground art scenes, but also a mature capitalist art market, in comparison to Berlin, where the spontaneous art scene has been developing in recent decades. Bergen, as my current home city, is a natural place for it to begin. What surprised me, interestingly, is that, during my communication with artists in Bergen, it became clear that there is not a strong culture of exchanging private money for art. Not many people collect art. And it seems there is not a commercial gallery that operates as most do. There is not yet an auction house in Bergen. Nevertheless, this does not mean that Post-Capitalistic Auction has no point here. On the contrary, Bergen, whose art scene could be defined as insular, and is obviously highly dependent on public funding, will generate its own discussion reflecting the possibilities of valuing art. Bergen’s rather unique position further convinces me of the importance of conducting this project in different cities, so to form comparative research results.

People might say that this project is riddled with paradoxes. That is very true. I hope this is also where the significance and value of the project lies. Post Capitalistic Auction is an investigation, a case study in how we value art, and, finally, in how we evaluate value itself. It will not immediately, in reality, change the rules of auctions or of the art ecology. Nevertheless, at least for one night, we can make an alternative and very real auction happen that both reflects the value system we have undoubtedly accepted for too long, as well as being a vehicle for envisaging future possibilities.

POST CAPITALISTIC AUCTION is developed by Jingyi Wang in collaboration with Idun Vik, in co-production with BIT TeatergarasjenBEK and Bergen Kunsthall.



Since Joseph Beuys declared that „Everyone is an artist“ in the 1960s, the call for the ‚democratisation‘ of art has become one of the most powerful forces in the realm of culture and has since dominated, shaped and controlled art to an unparalleled degree. Yet the fact that this phrase’s vast success does not lie in being a powerful concept for art itself, but instead has -inadvertently- become one of the most successful advertising slogans of all time, perverting Beuys‘ original utopian intent into its very antithesis, is a truth that remains strangely hidden in plain sight.

The Culture Industry, which had developed slowly but steadily since the 1920s, forty years later was ready to take charge of art production on a global scale; empowered by Beuys‘ statement this industry experienced exponential growth. Thus, instead of ushering in a phase of heightened autonomy and creative self-determination for each individual, Beuys‘ statement, at the hands of this industry, paved the way for the complete standardisation of art which we witness today and helped to enable a mass manipulation of individuals on an unprecedented scale. With little (i.e. no) concern for Beuys‘ original intention, his statement and his ‚extended concept of art‘ was abused as the perfect ideological excuse, underwriting the introduction of art external standards into art and the subsequentcomplete replacement of art internal / art specific standards with everything that is non-art – a development which has played a central role in producing the vacuity and crisis we witness in contemporary art today.

The fact that Beuys‘ work was a direct expression of his personal need to heal the trauma inflicted by the horrors of the Nazi regime, which triggered World-War II (in which Beuys himself was instrumentalised), led to the unimaginable suffering and the deaths of an estimated 80 million people in total, all of which was triggered and facilitated by the mass-manipulation and mass-mobilisation of the entire German nation, is a fact that, worryingly, in the context of art seems to need to be highlighted again. The question of how to ensure that this kind of mass-manipulation will neverbe repeated again – and of the role art, music, literature and philosophy can or must play „after Auschwitz“, was at the heart of post-war cultural activity in Germany. In stating that „Everyone is an artist“ Beuys attempted to root an absolute self-determination for each individual, leading to a complete unmanipulatable autonomy. He sought to place exactly this kind of person at the core of democracy.​ His ‚extended concept of art‘, his idea of a ’social sculpture‘ and his statement ‚everyone is an artist‘ should be seen in this context.

Post-war history and art did not unfold and develop as Beuys had hoped. Instead, at the hands of the Culture Industry „Everyone is an artist“, did not -and does today not- mean raising the degree of autonomy, self-determination and freedom of each member of society to that exemplified by the artist, but means instead lowering the extent of autonomy, self-determination and freedom of all artists to that of the status of the manipulatable -and manipulated- individual. And as ‚everyone is an artist‘ this, logically, means lowering everyone to this unfree level.

Beuys‘ endeavour to ‚extend the concept of art‘, for the Culture Industry, no longer means promoting works which continue to seek the boundary of art, and to extend it, but means instead that the concept of a boundary of art, constantly reviewed in ever changing circumstances and explored, pushed and moved through new art works by individual artists, has been abolished altogether. Any boundaries and any criteria specific to art, of what is means to be an artist, or what constitutes a work of art, have thus become obsolete at one stroke. ‚Extending the concept of art‘ as a concept is thus no longer to be applied to future art production, but is something that has already been settled once and for all.

​By promoting this pseudo-democratisation of art -declaring every one and every thing as now automatically artist and art- and by removing the concept of a boundary of art altogether, art has consequently come to a standstill and has produced the hollow vacuity and outright stupidity of works, now exclusivelyguided by sheer arbitrariness, which we are confronted with en masse in the contemporary art world today. With vast success the Culture Industry has thus turned Beuys‘ statement into a force that today acts against art.

​The call for the democratisation of art, amended over time by an even more wide-spread and in-depth demand for ‚political correctness‘, are today two of the most important signifiers of art. The Culture Industry has so successfully promoted both, democratisation and political correctness, in art and culture, that anything which does not explicitly comply with these terms is deemed unacceptable and irrelevant. Art that is not explicitly ‚democratic‘ is branded ‚elitist‘. Art that does not purport to be explicitly focussed on politically correct content is denounced as ‚unfair‘ or even ‚irresponsible‘. Both are therefore, logically, deemed unacceptable – thus the content and purpose of art is clearly defined. It is no longer up to the individual to seek a (new) definition of art, and it is no longer acceptable for the audience to be interested in art outside of this industry’s predetermined politically correct remit and standard. At the same time artists who are unwilling to comply with these new conditions are branded ‚elitist‘, ‚boring‘ or ‚obsolete‘ etc. – which are the terms by which the Culture Industry justifies the sidelining of these artists and the effective censoring and near complete exclusion of their work from the public realm.

​The Culture Industry presents the absence of these artists and works from the public realm as evidence of the obsolescence of the paradigm of autonomous art. It is the pinnacle of the overwhelming success of this industry that it now produces artists and critics who enthusiastically buy into the idea of the exhaustion of the paradigm of autonomy, and who go on promoting (their own) infantilisation and ‚non-nonage‘ [Unmuendigkeit] as an ideal.

​Thus Beuys‘ rallying call to individuals and the ‚extended concept of art‘ have thus been turned into a destructive force which is not only obliterating art as a discipline, but is undermining democracy at its very core. ​​The art work as a standard in culture / the artist as a paragon in society for unique individuality, and their out-of-the-ordinary and beyond-the-everyday potential and achievements, have been lost; in turn the loss of this measure contributes to society’s inability to judge what individuality -and therefore art- is.

​This pseudo-democratisation in art, and consequently the pseudo-democratisation of society itself, finds widespread and enthusiastic support. Those who are part of the political and cultural ‚elite‘ seem particularly keen to be seen to be supporting the ‚democratisation‘ of art as it not only makes them look politically correct, but also feel less guilty about their own status – as at the same time, and by the same tokens, the ‚commoners‘ are made to feel cultivated and included. Whereas historically the banal in art could be seen as a protest against the bourgeoise elite, banal art today ensures that the separation between the two is hidden. Thus art has developed into a globally promoted and accepted belief system, which has ‘Everyone is an artist’ as one of its tenets, suspending the critical judgement of everyone, regardless of their levels of education, station in life, degree of involvement or cultural background.

​And luckily, those who have been fortunate enough to have received education in the history of art and culture (an education that is not only not provided to, but today even withheld through this very industry from ‚the masses’ who flock to contemporary art shows), and have continuing access to that history, can still retreat into and feed on the beauty, complexity, comfort and nourishment of works of the Old Masters and the culture of the past. The cultural elite, including the many art critics and art journalists who enthusiastically promote and drive this industry, see no problem in condoning or even demanding the ‘democratisation‘ of art, i.e. in the offering of junk to ‚the masses‘, whilst simultaneously in private delighting in the sophisticated wisdom, and spiritual and intellectual nourishment of a Cicero. Whilst they feed on the universal and timeless quality of art of the past, the masses only get to consume this in its downgraded form: ‚timeless‘ in contemporary art is tacitly replaced with ‚devoid of development‘ (i.e. stagnation), whilst ‚universal‘ is openly sold out as ‚ordinary‘, ‚banal‘ and ‚everyday‘.

It is relatively easy to explain how the spectacle of this banal art-entertainment / art-leisure industry can attract those who have not received high quality education. It is also quite easy to see how people who are highly educated in disciplines other than art and culture can get drawn into participation in this industry, lured by the air of sophistication and cultivation this industry has created for itself and purports to bestow on its followers. Yet the critical silence – the complete suspension of the critical judgement– of those with in-depth knowledge of the discipline and history of art and culture, in the face of the utter stupidity and vacuity of contemporary art on the whole, is the most disturbing aspect of this situation.​How is this possible?

To denounce the pseudo-democratisation of art as the lie that it is, and to expose it instead as the very antithesis of democracy, would mean to disable that most powerful myth that the ‚democratisation‘ of art is – the myth which sits at the heart of -and thus powers- this global industry which is simply driven ever onwards by its own overwhelming success. This myth is welcomed and promoted by those who have very little, or even the very least, interest in the true autonomy and self-determination of individuals. And as the majority of the audience simply has not got any -does not know of any- standards by which to measure the works of art they are presented with, and has been sufficiently manipulated to embrace and believe the Entertainment- and Culture Industry’s own standards, today’s cultural and economic elite humbly and happily bows down before the now shared altar of the banal. For in the end it all works quite perfectly, seamlessly –for them- , leaving no room whatsoever for anyone to point out not only the blindingly obvious vacuity, but also the separations, exclusions and hierarchies which are hidden by the art industry in that cleverest of ways: in plain sight.

​Democratisation in art today is an industrialised form of cultural starvation for the vast audience which the Culture / Entertainment Industry purports to serve and to please (feeding and starving in this industry are one). Today the primary function of Art is to be the Opium – silencing any critics and providing the motor that drives and the glue that protects the capitalist system from showing any cracks.​ In this sense today’s infantilisation and vacuity is an ideal and is indeed ideal. ​​It is a perfect system, which could very well carry on for a very very long time, without producing or requiring any development or new content whatsoever.

​Yet outside the realm of the rosy ‚we-are-all-equal industry‘ things are not going quite as smoothly. With the rise of far-right fascism in Europe and the US we are once again faced with the question of its roots and causes. Is it really too far-fetched to look for one possible answer in the mechanisms and the impact of the global Culture Industry, which has the distortion and hollowing out of individual autonomy and the distortion / hollowing out (of the definition) of democracy at its core? What impact has this cultural vacuum / the consumption of completely vacuous and outright stupid content on this vast scale on the whole of society / on societies globally – and on each individual? We believe that these questions urgently require discussion.

​In order to resist the Culture Industry and to even begin to create a new point of departure for art of the future, we must today understand that democracy, equality and political correctness must be fought for in every area of our society -​ EXCEPT ART.

Art is the absolutely only single realm in which democracy does not, and mustnot, play any role.

​If we are hoping for any possibility of a true development of art and culture in the future, ending the stagnation of the last few decades, and enabling a production of art that is actually worth passing on to future generations, then we must become vocal and active opponents of the Culture Industry’s most powerful strategy of ‚democratisation‘ and ‚political correctness‘ in art. In order to ensure that true individuals can emerge again who take up the task of finding, identifying and pushing the boundary of art in the new and unprecedented circumstances of the 21st century, we must defend and promote the absolute autonomy of art from the above demands. This would ensure that democracy is rooted at the heart of art and society.



It is my firm belief that we are about to reach a point where art has to be reconsidered. Art as a whole, rather than its particular aspects, facets, functions, determinants, uses or criteria. Not art institutions and forms of exhibition, mechanisms for promotion, selection or museal inclusion. The time has come to redefine art; to ask whether art is still possible nowadays. Or are we to make do with substitutes and simulacra? Might it be that performative marketing and aesthetically refined advertisements suffice? Only internal fluctuations of the art world?

Art has become radically pluralistic; specific concepts, interpretations, styles and trends are not the only ones that have acquired autonomous status, as have particular isolated features and components of art. We have seen the concept of art expanding to include picture frames with no pictures, bare spaces where paintings used to hang, titles without artworks, or empty galleries. These separate fragments lead their own existence; they evolve and undergo… further radicalization. Admittedly, they may produce an intriguing outcome, providing a fresh stimulus to our reflection and our senses, but most often they are misused as alibis legitimizing trite, shoddy and frequently crude works whose message is nothing but mercenary arrogance. We may, of course, agree that this is the price, which has to be paid for artistic freedom, the highest value in art. Still, these unwanted side effects of our modernizations (Ulrich Beck[1]) dramatically increase in numbers and become… dominant. As a result, variety is boosted but almost immediately neutralized, and isolated extremes are given a free hand. The reason for this is that, confronted with a massive accumulation of issues, we are only capable of perceiving the most schematic and aggressive phenomena. This state of affairs prevents or, at least, substantially deforms any reflection, and namely judgement, symbolism, etc. Is this still art that we are dealing with? Let us view this situation from a distant perspective, adding only a little colour to it.[2]

In the Modernist period, the task of solving enormous problems about defining art was assigned to professionals: curators, art critics, artists and gallery owners etc., who constituted a magma-like phenomenon called the.[3] It was to act as a go-between for the society and creators in the process of democratizing the access to artistic goods and values. The exchange of expert opinions in a spirit of freedom and independence brought hope that all the contradictions and paradoxes of art could be overcome; that they could be “happily functionalized” by means of transformation into an ongoing debate.

This hope tends to be forlorn. Nothing but deleterious fiction! A cocoon of self-sufficiency has developed, a micro-environment – the art world. A close and hermetic community with a monopoly on the social redistribution of art – its public functioning, hierarchies and presentation; a community promoting and shaping the subject matter of art (the terror of political correctness) and specific creative strategies. The present art world has become highly institutionalized, ritualized and personalized. There are very clear divisions in this world, into the leading and mediocre institutions, into influential and marginal people, into major and local events. And censorship is still there; only this time it is pragmatic, “technical” – in the form of failing to mention certain things. How does the declared openness and creativity of the art world turn into rigid hierarchies of works and creators? What is the logic of this? No one wonders any more how it is possible to be competent in giving an ultimate assessment of art that is currently taking shape.

The art world generates tendencies, trends and stars that are tailored to our needs but it increasingly follows the logic of its internal fluctuations simply to stimulate the economy. Artefacts are created which have no connection with our existential experience, our hopes and dreams. Instead, they are entangled in risky abstract interpretations or conspicuously trivial fraternizing with everyday life and mass culture. Such absolutization of physiology and informality practically excludes all facets of experience and existence. Moreover, a suspicion appears that this never-ending carnival of transformations and multiplying ambiguities is meant to maintain the monopoly of the art world and the lack of an alternative – would any outsider dare define or judge new art in an unorthodox fashion? I sometimes think that the art world relies on the transformations and the indefinite nature of art, rather than art itself.

After all, variety is never absolutely pure; it is always of some kind. Therefore, as Paul Virilio claims, the limits of art are set by both political and optical correctness.[4] Art develops its own internal normativeness but also mediocrity. This conformist mimicry is displayed to the outside world as rebellious and alternative. It is no longer a secret that the art world is dominated by the new left rhetoric, which openly declares that art is to be transformed into direct political involvement. Of course, we live in a pluralist democracy and we do not all have to be (post-) Marxists. Schematisms and stereotypes of some people cannot be the remedy for schematisms of others. Replacing one’s fetters with the latest model does not exactly denote freedom. Moreover, we should ask who is going to liberate and emancipate the art world from its new left schemata and slogans. Besides, why do we impose the imperative of openness and tolerance upon others, while demanding nothing but freedom of speech from ourselves? How does this relate to democracy and creativity? …

We are currently witnessing the process of increasing unification and centralization of the art world. Global standards and formulas of dealing with art are being developed. Large centers, festivals and art fairs enforce a specific language, a set of metaphors, mental leaps, strategies, “significant” problems and subjects of art. Whoever refuses to conform is automatically considered to be a benighted dilettante.

In the twentieth century, the art world rejected consecutive identifications of art in its aspiration for freedom of creation. Rather than turning into an unlimited field of artistic creation, it metamorphosed into total submissiveness to the dominant narrations of late modernity, that is, the market, the mass media and ideologies, which promote the idea of art as a commodity (Baudrillard’s “perfect purchase”). Or novelty – anything as long as it is new. Sooner or later, “novelty” comes to describe only mediocre, negative or banal things. In this fashion, impudence eventually becomes the new sensitivity and obtuseness the new imagination. The mass media reduce art to an event, an attractive anomaly. They treat artists as idols (ideologization of art) and the experience of art has grown to be an empty, ritual ceremony. One should also mention the increasing ideologization of art, which tends to be used as a mere tool in the fight for cultural hegemony. Unfortunately, in these circumstances we are all losers, the activists and the re/educated masses. It is art we are losing! Not even the maximum efficiency of indoctrination can compensate for the effects of the loss and deformation of art.

Deprived of internal identifications, the art world is helpless in the face of the discussed determinants and its pragmatics can be expressed with a few simple questions: how can the idiomaticity of particular artists be reduced to a mass media event and a commodity? And, first of all: how is the mainstream to be generated and fixed?

As a consequence, the work of art becomes its own substitute: the work as a price, the work as a place in a museum or in an exhibition catalogue, the work as an exponent of a tendency or a generation, the work as a subject of interpretation or a debate. All these “the work as”-phenomena forms the work-without-work; they all accentuate its absence. They change art galleries and museums into streets; they change us into a faceless crowd. Not only metaphorically, as the point of reference is the huge scale of the street, including motion, drone, passing by, visual aggressiveness, temporariness, anonymity and crowdedness. Logistics, the ability to organize major events and media communicativeness are valued more highly than the creative act. An eminent artist is someone proficient at office, media and institutional games. Not to mention marketing ones.

The art world creates the aura of no alternatives mainly by keeping “the rest” of society consternated, embarrassing it with obscenities, banalities or the naivety of adolescence problems now and then. Some people perceive crudeness as a synonym of authenticity or even democracy! Bare physiology becomes a substitute of truth, while provocation (even most stupid and futile) or biased determination is expression of social involvement. It is frequently suspected that the main objective of the art world is to incapacitate the audience. This is evident from the fetishizing of art and the work of art, which is equated with only one interpretation, price, position, renown and the place in a prestigious collection. And all these appear at once, along with the creation of a new artefact, to make it impossible for anybody else to participate in the constitution of a work of art, in its “identification order” (Jacques Ranciere). Besides this, the dominance of psycho/sociologism reduces the flexibility, symbolism or expressiveness of art to a sign, or a symptom. All an artist does is to express general social processes or personality models. The simpler, the more banal this is, the better their work because it is… more legible. The more brutal, the better… the more pointed and convincing.

Moreover, in some countries, for instance in Poland, there are people who play a variety of roles in the art world, simultaneously being curators, art critics, jurors and merchants etc. This means that they promote a particular product in the press and on TV, they award it as jurors, purchase it for national collections as members of a committee, they send it to international festivals, and so on. Something like a policeman, a solicitor, a defender, a judge and a prison guard in one person. Performing a number of functions is a very efficient way of applying the principle of “nationalizing costs and privatizing benefits”. Self-degeneration of the art world reverses the perspective by shifting the center of gravity from the creative act to procedures of developing hierarchies (or fetishizing, perhaps?), or successful participation in the games of the art world.

It is high time we asked ourselves the question of what the topicalities generated by the art world, all these tendencies, rankings and stars, have to do with us? And what about art? It is only functionaries of the art world that want post-art liberated from aesthetics, artistic values, symbolism and expressiveness etc., one that is only topical and only different. Produced to satisfy their needs alone, post-art tends to be expensive and celebrated, reduced to political correctness and simplified didactics, slogans and teenage problems. Unfortunately, this fuels fears, which are commonplace anyway, that new art merely legitimizes banality and insolence. Therefore, we need art that is free not only from the ignorance of the masses but also from the usurpation of the “omniscient” specialists and virulent activists. If the dispute concerning art is dying down, this is not because it has been resolved but because it seems pointless. It is possibly never to be settled, and so we ought to make sure to improve its quality rather than focus on efficacious persuasion.

As I have written at the beginning of this essay, we have to reconsider art. We have to decide whether there is an alternative to the present monopolization of the art world, in which art is equivalent with its public functioning, the logic of the market and the mass media as well as new left ideologization. Can ARTHOME be this alternative? The art home fighting for subjective singularity inscribed in the definite existential experience. The idea, however, is not to reinstate the romantic cult of individuality and escapist strategies. The dynamic and complex multidimensionality of our late modernity, in which our subjectivity constitutes an inalienable moment, but nothing else than a moment, must remain the point of reference. Therefore, singularity is a rather polemical concept here, constantly re/constructed in the dialogue with the general. This genuine and refreshing dialogue – between the general and the singular is the optimum.

The aesthetics of the arthome is one of individual consciousness and independence, consisting mainly of the creation and protection of differences and distinctions. Even the illusory and fictitious ones, so that their complexity necessitates the perception of every mature person as an exceptional configuration. Art can also be a domain of idioms (Mikel Dufrenne’s “Racinian world”), rather than a set of general and abstract classes, types and tendencies. That is because art is more than simply a social phenomenon, glamour or decorum; it is, first and foremost, an individual existential necessity.

Maintaining differences ought to also pertain to the various natures of differences, their multidimensionality, and mostly to the division into the public and the private sphere; we do not have to be specimens and representatives of generality. As a result, critical anti/fragmentariness appears, a search for wider dimensions of individual existence, some kinds of transversality. The need arises for resistance to the terror of topicality and situationality, a sort of ‘transtopicality’ – even by means of juxtaposing one’s own biography with random discourses and contexts. By juxtaposing self-narration (self-construction) with topicality, even if it was to assume the form of sagacious solitariness and provincialism. They are also what we contribute to what is common and general. The arthome should make use of deliberativeness, (self-)reflection as a form of inconclusive participation, to look for interdependencies and optimum configurations. This implies persevering in the state of vigilant non-fulfillment rather than searching for aesthetic or, at least, symbolic satisfaction. This also implies the complementary character of experience and contemplative self-reflection, rather than reducing the work of art to a verbal message or an ecstatic incident.

We are thus doomed to the hardship of never-ending specifying of ambiguities instead of an ultimate and explicit crystallization. The arthome understood in this way provides us with the chance to contrast globalization with personalization. Everyone should be able to have art tailored to their needs. Forcing everybody to accept a particular kind of art as the only right, topical, international one etc. constitutes nothing but blatant usurpation in the fight for social dominance. Even if it is fought under lofty slogans of emancipation or justice.

A model for the arthome is not so much Hölderlin’s tower of reclusion but rather the multitude of initiatives developed by artists, trying to regain independence, adulthood, to liberate themselves from the schematization and limits of the art world. I would like to mention one initiative, namely Gerard Blum-Kwiatkowski’s idea of an “art station”, formed as early as the 1970s. It was supposed to be run by one artist as a workshop, a gallery, a meeting place, as well as a place of exchange for invited artists and education for local people. Bloom managed to put his idea into practice, first in Kleinasassen, then in Hünfeld and Świeradów-Zdrój. With phenomenal success.

Striving to reject the art world would naturally be utopian. What should be done is this: its… functionalism should be functionalized, its pragmatism should be depragmatized – it should be considered a mere possibility, an opportunity rather than the ultimate source of judgement and meaning. Any hierarchies in art constitute nothing more than an invitation to discussion. As Pierre Bourdieu insisted, any arrangements and assessments in the art world are nothing but conspiracy.[5] Paradoxical though it seems, it is only through certain an/archism that we can gain the right to make art, understood as what is best, most lofty and beautiful about us in view of the increasing unification and dehumanization of the art world.

This essay is by no means to be interpreted as an attempt at total criticism of new art; on the contrary, it is an appeal for this art to be protected and its meaning to be disputed. An appeal directed at all mature people, not only activists and functionaries of the art world. Opportunities should be created to experience and produce art not only to fit the streets and the crowd, but also to suit the individual scale. Instead of the streets and monumental halls in new museums, we could imagine labyrinths of small rooms and nooks dedicated to particular artworks and a single viewer. Collective exposition tends to exert a neutralizing effect, exhibited objects are reduced to pure “aesthetics” or ideology.

Art ought to and has to be diverse. At various stages of development, everyone should have an opportunity to discover a concrete and topical form of art for themselves. A form that suits their imagination, experience, sensitivity and existential intuition. This is why art circulation has to be genuinely pluralistic, a challenge and a task we must face. We must maintain not only artistic variety but, first of all, the multidimensional character of this variety.


[1]           Ulrich Beck, Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity, trans. by Mark Ritter, London 1992

[2]           For an in-depth discussion of this subject see my book Sztuka polska 1993-2014. Arthome versus artworld, Warsaw 2012

[3]           Arthur Danto’s contextual definition of art. George Dickie’s institutional one.

[4]           Paul Virilio interviewed by E. Bai, “Corriera della Sera”, 20.03.2001

[5]           Pierre Bourdieu, Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field, trans. by Susan Emanuel, Stanford, CA 1996




Over the next ten days, I will work. Trading on the New York Stock Exchange, placing orders with the purpose of visual change. Once I have moved a stock price, I will redraw it on canvas with oil stick.

A stock is a representation of the claim on a company’s assets and earnings. It is partitioned into shares that are considered personal property. A share always belongs to an owner, though it may outlive any of its owners. Belonging, like most other relations, is mediated by private property, the ground to our liberal concept of society, upon which the exchange locates the stock.

The meeting of buyers and sellers once took place in a physical space but has now become a network of computers where trades are placed electronically. The heart of Wall Street is in New Jersey. Picture metal cages containing racks of servers, lining data centers, festooned with wires through which my wealth, my livelihood has pulsed.

And while millions of square feet have been configured to realize financial relations, this sensible form in no way contains the market. Estimates of the derivatives market have soared past the quadrillion-dollar mark. These are contracts that are based on the performance of certain assets like mortgages or commodities, so while grounded in reality, can balloon far beyond it.

The financial market is large, beyond comparison. A natural, sensible object is always measured in some sort of relation, and thus made larger or smaller in our imagination. But there is no fair measure for the market outside of itself. It can only be judged from within, a magnitude in which the amplifying of the imagination itself is inherent to its sheer, formless, absoluteness.

This occurs because our imagination reaches toward infinity just as reason insists on totality. Inevitably, the imagination falls short, unable to estimate beyond the senses, yet in the process of wanting and feeling, the mind attunes towards the supersensible.

The magnitude of my price movements, I will redraw by estimation. It is the mind’s eye that will take the line from screen to canvas. Mapping this data visualization with time on the x-axis, price on the y-axis.

Oil stick on canvas, the price is the point of contact, where the highest amount a buyer will pay meets the lowest amount a seller will accept. If more people want to buy a stock than sell it, the price inches up, and likewise in the opposite direction.

The line I draw is thus an inextricable link to an anonymous other on the opposite side of the trade. This prevents me from being absolutely individual. I am exposed to the gazes of others as one investor among investors.

This is competition, which is promoted by the structure of the market: as a central exchange, with homogeneous products, low transaction and transportation costs, instant communications, a large enough crowd of participants to ensure that no individual can influence market prices in the ordinary course of events, and rules to allow all investors access to information.

Through competition, the market appears to dispel, as if magically, the thickness and opacity of the physical reality, opening the world up before us. The visibility that price lends to aspects of the world helps us reach out into the midst of conditions and circumstances beyond ourselves, and through our market actions link us to them in a way seemingly beyond comparison to the relations of the external world. Ownership becomes simultaneously an absolute closeness and an irremediable distance.

A quantifiable, singular price is what brings together the many individual perspectives, turning judgment into data, emotion into a line. Whatever fluctuations occur in this field of thoughts and perceptions may not indicate any change in the underlying company, but in what investors feel the worth of it is.

Fundamental analysis assumes that stocks have a true value distinct from their current price. This fundamental value is thought to be located somewhere in the relationship of the stock to other stocks, and to its own earnings. The market price of the stock is supposed to tend towards this true, fundamental value over time.

The importance of this analysis is that it assumes causality. The state of the company will ultimately dictate the relative value of its stock on the market. Any disparities between the fundamental value and the stock price can be pinned on the future, and its correct or incorrect anticipation.

The price is viewed as a reflection of a company’s current and future being. Starting from the reality of the company, reflective judgment filters down to a price and puts forth the price as a universal synthesis: the line and its universalizing potential drawn from the points, each one a reflective judgment made manifest.

But pure, reflective description breaks down when confronted with the phenomenal reality of the market. It is the intentional nature of valuing itself that condemns us to the illusion of objectivity. Indeed our judgment ends in a price, and the price, once constituted, appears as that without which there would be no value. But it is in fact just a state of possibility. The price replaces a description with a recreation.

Causality is untenable. In fact, prices can have significant effects on the underlying company that they represent, whether through the credibility of the company, its consumer acceptance, credit rating, or through corporate transactions like mergers and acquisitions, or through issues and repurchases of shares and options.

The market is reflexive. Investors are at once judging and acting on it. When seeking to understand, reality is the constant. When seeking to act, understanding is the constant. But since the reality of the market is made of its actions, none of these givens can be anything but contingent. And so the divergence between reality and understanding itself becomes a causal factor, as human uncertainty, or human creativity.

But the line that I am drawing is not a judgment on the company. I will pick stocks based on their volumes traded, their names, their ticker symbols, based on their formal qualities. I will not analyze the underlying reality of the stock, but start from the reality of the line, that I may move, and draw, and inscribe. The market is a historical process in which moves are forever recorded, echoed through the rest of the financial ecosystem. In this case, not only embedded, but also embodied.

The reality of a price makes it objectively true. Regardless of how abstract the market may seem, results are actual and inexorable. In other words, the market is always right. But the truth does not merely dwell in the realized price, but also in the fundamental value that always lies in the near future. The next price is always the truer one. So while the present price is determinative and real, the future price is always gearing back into it, making different sides of the truth simultaneously present and future.

Just as each moment in the market is double-sided. There is a pulse, as each exchange happens. And yet, there is also a concurrent settling in the line that inexorably accumulates all of these points. This double-sided moment of pulsing and settling characterizes the consciousness of the market. They are bound together, like two sides of a coin, or two dimensions of a figure.

Valuation, like perception, has its own perspectival orientation. Your view on a stock is the value judgment. To act upon that view, a trade is placed, which gives depth to the stock’s order book, and once executed, forms part of the volume. Valuation is focused on a stock bound as a horizon, and this underlying structure clearly rests on and presupposes perception.

It is perception, not judgment that is the primordial operation that implants the valuable with a value. And perception is not contingently, but essentially bodily.

Leaving the market to exist as both technical and emotional, true and false, real and abstract.

The stock market joins an extreme subjectivism with an extreme objectivism through its valuation of the world. Value follows from the price in which it is revealed. That is, perspectives intersect, perceptions confirm each other, and value appears. But this value must not be detached, or converted into a world in the realist sense.

Because the market is not pure being, but rather the value that shines forth at the intersection of my views with those of others through a sort of fitting into each other. The market is thus bound to subjectivity and intersubjectivity, which create their concordance through the taking up of past prices into present prices. Buyer and seller do not meet up with already given value. Instead, they establish each other and establish value through an approach that rests upon ownership.

If ownership is the reduced, distilled form of existence, then the market is not the clarification of a prior system of being, but rather its origination. Like art, trading is not the reflection of a prior truth, but the actualization of a perceived truth.

It is visual purpose that unhinges a painting’s value from its material. It is visual purpose that will guide the literal value of the line that I will draw on these paintings. If value emerges from the relationship between perceptions, then seeing the mark on canvas as both literal and representational–as the stock that it simultaneously depicts and abstracts–is generative. And this is where I am tonight. I value. I see. I mark.



Redelivered the previous talk (with a few little differences for it to make sense in the present). Then got up from the desk and abandoned the script. More or less it followed like this: I began by trading Paradise Inc. In fact, the broker called me up to tell me I was the only person in paradise. I made the stock move by fully one third of its market cap. It was the smallest company I moved. Here is Patriot National Bancorp. The lines came out parallel. Though that was my chance, I intentionally reinforced them on the canvas.

Neuromama is an 8 Billion dollar company that trades on the pink sheets. It seems shady, it’s a Russian search engine. I brought it down 13%. Magically, at the end of the day, someone pushed it right back up to where it was before I traded it.

Here is Pope Resources. I pushed the Pope around between $61 and $65.5 three times, which, for a $300 million market cap company, is quite radical.

And this is Value Line, which here resembles a heartbeat.
These lines bear testament to my actions, but they reflect a greater reality.

What happened on the markets is the true contingency for this work. When the date for this show was set a few months ago, never could I have imagined that the market would be in its current state. US equity markets have recorded their worst start to a year in history. In just a few trading days into 2016, the S&P 500 has erased over $2 trillion dollars in value.

Wiped out. It’s a sea of red, across the board– as if my show timed the market, or as if the market could be complicit in my artwork. Because essentially, it forced investors to do what I’ve been doing: ignore the underlying reality and focus simply on the price.

During uncertain times such as these, fundamental valuation fails you. In retrospect, it might be attributed to China, or to oil. But these were also factors in the later half of 2015. So when causes cannot be called upon to understand a situation, you can only rely on the facticity and immediacy of the price. An investor is forced to reckon with the power of sentiment. What happened on the market is a phenomenal echo of what I did on individual stocks: ignore its underlying reality, just make the price swing.

As if in homage to this opening, the market today plunged by over 550 points just to bounce right back. I’m not denying responsibility. All I can say is that there is always an interplay of chance and intentionality.

When I redraw my lines on canvas, I start with an image in my mind but in the moment, my hand might slip, speed up or slow down as it catches on a stretcher. When I placed the trades, at certain times, and with certain volumes, I expect a specific movement. But oftentimes, the market surprised me. And of course, that my paintings are now embedded in a historic moment is the ultimate interplay between chance and intentionality. Because when I started this show, I intended to wreak a little havoc.

© Sarah Meyohas


Als es nach ersten Presseartikeln im Fall Gurlitt weithin an Experten mangelte, die die plötzlich drängenden Fragen zu beantworten vermochten, wurde rasch klar, dass die kunsthistorische Landkarte in diesen Bereichen – gemeint sind Provenienz- und Kunstmarktforschung – noch viele weiße Flecken aufweist. Zweifellos hätte die Veröffentlichung der Sammlung Gurlitt die Fachwelt weniger unerwartet und weniger heftig getroffen, wenn die Erforschung des Kunstmarktes und seiner Geschichte nicht über weite Strecken als nebensächlich eingestuft worden wäre – übrigens auch vom Autor dieser Zeilen, der seine erste Lehrtätigkeit ganz anderen Themen widmete und erst nach Übernahme der familiären Kunsthandlung die historische Dimension des Kunstmarkts zu ergründen begann.

Das Fach Kunstgeschichte hat den Blick auf den Markt lange gescheut. Die Tatsache, dass bildende Künstler meist in einem merkantilen Umfeld agierten und immer noch agieren, empfand man als Widerspruch zu den ideellen Werten, die ihren Werken zugeschrieben werden. Die Wirkungen des Kunstmarktes auf die Kunstgeschichte wurden daher über weite Strecken ausgeblendet, ein Umdenken fand erst im letzten Viertel des 20. Jahrhunderts mit Erscheinen einiger bahnbrechender Studien – etwa von Francis Haskell oder Svetlana Alpers – statt. Seither befasst sich eine stetig wachsende Zahl von Publikationen mit der Geschichte von regionalen Märkten und einzelnen Marktakteuren; ein erster Höhepunkt dieser neuen Sichtweise war die große monographische Ausstellung, die das Metropolitan Museum in New York gemeinsam mit dem Art Institute in Chicago und dem Musée d’Orsay in Paris vor wenigen Jahren dem legendären Pariser Kunsthändler Ambroise Villard (1865– 1939) widmete.

Vollards Leben und Wirken fällt in die Epoche des französischen Impressionismus und Post-Impressionismus, deren Rezeption – darin ist sich die kunsthistorische Forschung längst einig – maßgeblich von herausragenden Galeristen mitbestimmt wurde. Weniger bekannt ist, dass der Kunsthandel auch zu anderen Zeiten und in anderen Ländern entscheidende Impulse zur Verbreitung neuer Ausdrucksformen gab und mit seinen weitgespannten Netzwerken überdies den immer größeren Hunger nach Kunst in Europa befeuerte. Der Handel mit Druckgrafik zum Beispiel fungierte über Jahrhunderte als überragendes Vehikel der Verbreitung von neuen Bildern und Stilrichtungen; oft war er auch Ausgangspunkt für die Nachfrage nach Gemälden, Skulpturen und Architektur. Angesichts einer wachsenden Bilderflut waren es nicht zuletzt Marktakteure wie der Pariser Kunsthändler Edme-François Gersaint (1694–1750; sein sog. »Ladenschild« von Watteau hängt heute im Berliner Schloss Charlottenburg), die den Sammlern von Druckgrafik Orientierungshilfen in Form von Katalogpublikationen und Werkverzeichnissen boten und damit zur Entstehung einer wissenschaftlichen Kunstgeschichte beitrugen.

Als sich die junge universitäre Kunstgeschichte im 19. Jahrhundert als gleichwertige Disziplin neben der viel älteren Geschichtswissenschaft zu etablieren suchte, war sie aus naheliegenden Gründen beflissen, ihre Verbindungen in die als unwissenschaftlich empfundene Welt des Handels aus dem Blickfeld zu rücken – und dies, obgleich der Austausch zwischen Kunstgeschichte und Kunstmarkt gerade auf dem Gebiet der Kennerschaft nie abgerissen, ja vielmehr bis heute fester Bestandteil der Grundlagenforschung bei der Sichtung des überlieferten Kulturgutes geblieben ist.

Vielleicht führte gerade die Tatsache, dass enge Verbindungen einzelner Kunsthistoriker zum Kunsthandel gerne verschwiegen wurden, zu gelegentlichen Missständen in diesem Bereich. Zu denken ist etwa an den hochbegabten aber schillernden Kenner der italienischen Renaissance Bernard Berenson (1865–1959), der über weite Strecken seiner Laufbahn eng mit dem überragenden Händler Joseph Duveen (1869–1939) zusammenarbeitete. Die daraus entstehende gegenseitige Abhängigkeit wurde nicht nur von den Involvierten sondern auch von der Nachwelt lange verschwiegen und erst gegen Ende des letzten Jahrhunderts begann die Forschung damit, die merkantilen Aspekte von Berensons Kennerschaft unter die Lupe zu nehmen, wobei frühe Veröffentlichungen zu diesem Thema von zum Teil heftigen Diskussionen begleitet wurden.

Solche Interdependenzen zwischen Handel und Wissenschaft bilden nur einen von vielen Themenbereichen, die sich für die weitere Recherche anbieten. Zunächst sollte sich die Forschung in diesem Feld allerdings besonders den Grundlagen zuwenden, und zwar weil die Materialien zur Geschichte des Kunstmarkts mangels Achtsamkeit vielerorts in alle Winde verstreut wurden, sofern sie nicht ganz verloren gingen. Zu denken ist hier nicht nur an die Archive der einzelnen Firmen und Marktakteure, sondern auch an deren kommerzielle Publikationen wie Auktions- und Ausstellungskataloge, die in den öffentlichen Bibliotheken meist nur sehr lückenhaft vorhanden sind und die unbedingt in einer zentralen Datenbank erfasst werden sollten. Ein vielversprechender Anfang hierzu wurde mit der Digitalisierung von Auktionskatalogen der Jahre 1930–1945 durch die Kunstbibliothek der SMB Berlin, die Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg und das Getty Research Institute gemacht. Aktuell wird das Projekt auf die Jahre 1901–1929 ausgeweitet. Es gilt also, die vorhandenen Materialien in öffentlichen Institutionen weiterhin zu erschließen und die Eigentümer von Privatarchiven zu einer Öffnung derselben zu bewegen. Hilfestellung bieten hier etwa das – u. a. vom Bundesverband Deutscher Galerien geförderte – Zentralarchiv des Internationalen Kunsthandels in Köln oder das Germanische Nationalmuseum in Nürnberg.

An den Universitäten ist in den letzten Jahren in Bezug auf die Erforschung des Marktes eine spürbare Aufbruchsstimmung zu beobachten. Vielleicht steht diese auch im Zusammenhang mit der Neustrukturierung der Studiengänge, denn der Wunsch nach praxisbezogener Lehre wird – auch seitens der Studierenden – immer häufiger geäußert. Noch werden direkt auf den Kunstmarkt und seine Geschichte ausgerichtete Lehrangebote allerdings gerne außerhalb des eigentlichen kunsthistorischen Curriculums angesiedelt, so etwa an der FU Berlin oder an der Universität Zürich, wo Studiengänge zum Kunstmarkt Teil eines Weiterbildungsangebots sind. Gleichzeitig besteht an vielen Instituten aber durchaus das Interesse, gezielte Lehrveranstaltungen zum Kunstmarkt und seiner Geschichte in den Lehrplan zu integrieren, sofern dies möglich ist – denn der Mangel an ausgewiesenen Lehrkräften auf diesem Gebiet setzt solchen Absichten noch enge Grenzen. An der TU Berlin wird mit dem Forum Kunst und Markt genau diesem Umstand Rechnung getragen, indem sich diese Forschungsplattform besonders an den Nachwuchs wendet. Derweil wurden an den Universitäten Düsseldorf und Köln jüngst Juniorprofessuren mit Schwerpunkt Kunstmarkt eingerichtet, während das Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte in München einen Forschungsschwerpunkt der Geschichte des Kunsthandels widmet. Erfreulicherweise stößt das Thema auf ausgesprochene Resonanz, denn eine stetig steigende Zahl von Master-Arbeiten und Dissertationen befasst sich mit Themen, die sich direkt oder indirekt auf den Kunstmarkt beziehen.

Zu Recht sind im Zusammenhang mit dem Fall Gurlitt auch Rufe nach Lehrangeboten zur Provenienzforschung laut geworden, wobei dieses Feld aufs Engste mit dem Kunstmarkt verwoben ist, eine sinnvolle Ausbildung somit auch ein Verständnis der Abläufe im Kunstmarkt vermitteln sollte. Nicht nur hilft Hintergrundwissen zum Kunsthandel dabei, die Plausibilität unterschiedlicher Szenarien zum Besitzerwechsel einzelner Objekte besser einschätzen zu können; ein breiteres Verständnis der Marktströmungen liefert dem Provenienzforscher auch wichtige Indizien zur »Großwetterlage«, in der Verkäufe stattgefunden haben. Das Erarbeiten und Vermitteln des historischen Kontexts von Objektgeschichte gehört zur Kernkompetenz von Museen, und obwohl gewisse Institutionen auf dem Feld der Herkunftsforschung mit internen wie externen Schwierigkeiten zu kämpfen hatten – und zum Teil noch haben –, sind hier mittlerweile etliche zu herausragenden Kompetenzträgern geworden. In diesem Umfeld entstehen auch aussichtsreiche Ansätze für eine vertiefte Zusammenarbeit mit den Universitäten in Lehre und Forschung, etwa bei der Sichtung von Archivalien oder einzelnen Werkkomplexen im Zusammenhang mit Projektseminaren – Entwicklungen, die der Verband Deutscher Kunsthistoriker (VDK) in einer vor Kurzem zum Fall Gurlitt organisierten Veranstaltung erörtert und ermutigt hat (ein Mitschnitt findet sich auf der Homepage des VDK, Es wäre höchst wünschenswert, wenn die öffentliche Hand gezielt Gelder für die Unterstützung solcher Initiativen im Einzelnen und für die Förderung der Kunstmarktforschung im Allgemeinen zur Verfügung stellte. Mit einer Stärkung dieses auch international erst wenig erschlossenen Feldes ließe sich aus der Not des Falles Gurlitt auch eine forschungspolitische Tugend machen.

Dieser Text erschien in Politik & Kultur 5/14


In jüngster Zeit ist das künstlerische Schaffen in eine Phase der Banalisierung getreten, die in erster Linie auf Marktmechanismen, auf den Erfolgsdruck des Künstlers und auf seinen Narzissmus zurückzuführen ist. Kurz gesagt, der tiefere Sinn des Kunstschaffens scheint ganz allgemein verloren gegangen zu sein. Wir sollten uns deshalb in Erinnerung rufen, was unter dem, was wir „Kunst“ nennen, eigentlich zu verstehen ist.

Der Künstler kann erahnen und erkennen, was sich unter der alltäglichen Erscheinung verbirgt. Er ist nicht der einzige, der über diese Fähigkeit verfügt, aber nur er kann diese Einblicke darstellen und ihnen eine Form geben. Die Griechen bezeichneten Wahrheit mit dem Wort „a-letheia“, der Unverborgenheit. Für sie hatte Wahrheit die Bedeutung, etwas Verborgenes ans Licht zu bringen. Wenn der Künstler Bilder, Visionen und Formen hervorbringt, bewirkt er genau diese Offenlegung, er greift somit dem Denken voraus und lenkt es.

Der Erkenntnistheoretiker und Kunstkritiker Gaston Bachelard wies immer wieder auf die Wichtigkeit der rêverie, des Träumens mit offenen Augen, hin, das von Naturelementen und Bildern ausgeht, die wir uns in unserer frühesten Kindheit angeeignet haben. Dank dieses Verfahrens können wir, unabhängig von jeder künstlerischen Technik, Leitbilder schaffen und ihnen eine konkrete Form geben.

Diese Auffassung knüpft an das tiefenpsychologische Konzept der Archetypen an. Wie Jung und seine Schule bestätigt haben, drückt sich das Unbewusste, also der Teil, der uns weitestgehend bestimmt, in Bildern aus: vornehmlich in Träumen. Aber auch etwa in Zeichnungen Kranker schlagen sich eigene Archetypen und unbewusste Symbole nieder. Natürlich ist dieser Vorgang nicht auf die Pathologie beschränkt, wir alle bedienen uns dieses Verfahrens. Im Rahmen künstlerischer Tätigkeit jedoch kommt ihm eine grundsätzliche Bedeutung zu, die wir nicht aus den Augen verlieren sollten: Im Bild spiegelt sich in kondensierter Form die gesamte psychische Situation wider.

Jungs Konzept knüpft an die neuplatonische Tradition an, nach der der Aufstieg (ascensus) der Seele durch ihre Vorstellungskraft bewirkt wird, die ihren unbewussten Erinnerungen Form gibt. Die neuplatonische Spekulation kam hinsichtlich der Vorstellungskraft, also der Fähigkeit, Bilder zu erschaffen, im Neuplatonismus der italienischen Renaissance durch Marsilio Ficino zur Blüte. Letzterer hat in der italienischen und europäischen Kultur eine bahnbrechende Rolle gespielt, weil er die Aufmerksamkeit wieder auf die zentrale Bedeutung der Seele, des Innenlebens, gelenkt hat, in der alle Formen des Wissens zusammenkommen und wo die verschiedenen symbolischen Formen aufgenommen und verarbeitet werden. Die Wirklichkeit der Seele setzt sich hinsichtlich ihrer universellen Dimension nach Ficino aus drei Bestandteilen zusammen: dem Geist, dem Körper und der Vorstellung. Der Geist ermöglicht uns rationales Denken, der Körper verbindet uns mit der Gesamtheit der Natur, aber idola, die Vorstellungskraft, d.h. die Fähigkeit, Bilder zu schaffen, ermöglicht uns zu transzendieren, also die banale Realität zu überschreiten. Die Vorstellungskraft, eine Art Instinkt, leitet und führt uns: nicht anders als die archetypischen Bilder, die nach dem psychoanalytischen Ansatz Jungs in uns aufsteigen und die Art unseres Seins bestimmen. Die Bilder sind das Mittel, um sich von der bloß naturalistischen Wirklichkeit zu befreien und dem Individuum eine Bestimmung und eine Richtung zu verleihen. Über die Bilder unserer Psyche, so sagte Jung, erschaffen wir unseren Mythos.

Bei jeder künstlerischen Tätigkeit, gleich welcher Art oder Richtung, sollte man sich immer den generellen Sinn vor Augen halten, aus dem Bilder erschaffen und dem Betrachter zur Betrachtung angeboten werden. Der Künstler sollte ein Bewusstsein über die Wichtigkeit seiner Tätigkeit haben und erneut die Rolle übernehmen, die ihm zukommt.




Das Wort Kreativität hat seinen etymologischen Ursprung im lateinischen „creare“, was zeugen, gebären, schaffen, erschaffen bzw. ins Leben rufen heißt. Wird der Begriff „creativity“ ins Deutsche übertragen, gelangt man zu Formulierungen wie „schöpferische Fähigkeit“, „schöpferisches Denken“ oder „schöpfen“ (Stockhammer 1983). Diese Verankerung stammt ursprünglich aus der Theologie und bezeichnet den „Creator“ (Schöpfergott), welcher in der Lage ist, aus dem Nichts etwas Neues (creatio ex nihilo) zu erschaffen. So ist es nicht verwunderlich, dass diese schöpferische Fähigkeit dem Menschen lange abgesprochen wurde (Tatarkiewicz 1980 S.254ff)[1]. Im 17.Jahrhundert wurde der Begriff des Schöpferischen auf herausragende Persönlichkeiten (Genies) mit außergewöhnlichen Fähigkeiten übertragen (Brodbeck 2006 S.246). In der Folge vergingen über zwei Jahrhundert bis sich das Konzept der Kreativität allmählich von verwandten Begriffen wie „imagination, originality, genius, talent, freedom and individuality“ (Albert & Runco 1999 S.17) löste. Das Fundament hierfür legten die Institutionalisierung der Wissenschaft ab Mitte des 17.Jahrhunderts (Aufklärung), zahlreiche Debatten und weltberühmte Werke wie Smiths (The Wealth of Nations, 1776), Malthus (Essay on Populations, 1798) oder Darwins (The Origins of Species, 1859). Schrittweise konnte so die vorherrschende Meinung revidiert werden, dass Kreativität eine mystische Gabe sei. Nichtsdestotrotz konzentrierte sich die Wissenschaft zunächst auf die Erforschung der Genetik genialer Persönlichkeiten (z.B. Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci) (Galton 1869, Freud 1958). Auch Schumpeter (1911) war bei der Konzeption seines „kreativen Zerstörers“ von der Genietheorie bestimmt, die zwei Typen von Menschen unterstellte: den gewöhnlichen Menschen und das schöpferische – in seinem Fall wirtschaftliche – Genie (Brodbeck 1996b). Diese Studien führten zu der Annahme, dass Kreativität einen wesentlichen Bestandteil der Intelligenz ausmachte (Terman 1925, Cox 1926). Erst in der zweiten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts konnte sich die Kreativitätsforschung von der Intelligenzforschung lösen. Als Wegbereiter gilt der Vortrag des damaligen Präsidenten der American Psychological Association, J. P. Guilford (Guilford 1950); danach setzte die systematische Erforschung der menschlichen Kreativität ein. Mit der Demokratisierung der Gesellschaft erfolgte auch eine Ausweitung des Kreativitätsbegriffs auf alle Menschen (Brodbeck 2006 S.247). Stimmen wurden laut, „das Zeitalter der Genies sei vorbei, in der Wissenschaft genauso wie in Kunst und Politik“ (Matussek 1979 S.7). Gegenwärtig wird Kreativität als ein Phänomen betrachtet „which recognizes the potential for creative achievement in all fields of human activity; and the capacity in the many and not the few“ (NACCCE 1999 S.30) oder es wird argumentiert, dass „creativity is an essential feature of our life“ (Florida 2002a S.30). Kreativität ist – wenn auch mit unterschiedlichen Eigenschaften und in verschiedenen Formen – bei allen Menschenvorhanden (Brodbeck 1996a). Aus diesem Verständnis entwickelte sich ein multidimensionaler Begriff der Kreativität, welcher nicht nur an der menschlichen Person ansetzt, sondern den Blick auch auf eine kreative Problemstellung, einen kreativen Prozess, eine kreative Presse (Überzeugungskunst), ein kreatives Produkt und nicht zuletzt auf das kreatives Problemumfeld (z.B. bestimmte Orte) – auch die sechs P’s[2] genannt –richtet (vgl. Urban 1993, Runco 2007).

Im Gegensatz dazu, ist der Terminus „Kreativität“ im sprachlichen Alltagsgebrauch oftmals mit falschen Assoziationen, hartnäckigen Vorurteilen und Mythen durchsetzt. Drei gängige Mythen werden im Folgenden vorgestellt. Erstens wird vielfach behauptet, dass Kreativität eine besondere Gabe einiger weniger Menschen ist und nicht erlernt werden kann (vgl. die Verkörperung Albert Einsteins, Leonardo da Vincis oder Johann Wolfgang von Goethes als Universalgenies) (vgl. z.B. Lange-Eichbaum 1928). In den Ingenieurswissenschaften bspw. galt Kreativität lange als „black art, possessed by some, and not by others“ oder „result of individual‚ champions’ rather than systematic“ (Cropely & Cropley 2000 S.1). Eine zweite Behauptung liegt darin, dass Kreativität nur in bestimmten Bereichen, allen voran in der Wissenschaft oder in Kunst und Kultur benötigt wird. So ist es nicht verwunderlich, dass unter dem Sammelbegriff „Kreativwirtschaft“ vornehmlich Industriebranchen zusammengefasst werden, die sich überwiegend auf kulturelle oder künstlerische Tätigkeiten beziehen. Ferner spricht man von Kreativen & kreativen Personen stets in Verbindung mit bestimmten Berufen (z.B. Maler, Schriftsteller, Filmemacher etc.). Runco stellt in diesem Zusammenhang einen „Art Bias“ von Kreativität im alltäglichen Sprachgebrauch und -verständnis fest (Runco 2007 S.384). Drittens wird behauptet, dass Kreativität an bestimmte Persönlichkeitsstrukturen oder Räume gebunden sei. Der Tenor in der gegenwärtigen Fachliteratur lautet, dass spezielle persönliche Charakterzüge (z.B. Neugier, Einfallsreichtum, Unabhängigkeit, Risikobereitschaft, Vorurteilsfreiheit, Nonkonformismus, Konflikttoleranz etc.) (z.B. Landry 2000 S.13, Florida 2002a S.31ff, Preiser 2006 S.61) oder bestimmte Raumkonfigurationen (z.B. urbane Agglomerationen, Global Cities, Clustering kreativer Netzwerke) (z.B. Törnqvist 1990 S.108f, Scott 1997 S.324, Hall 2000 S.644) Kreativität begünstigen. So ist vom experimentierfreudigen Wissenschaftler, exzentrischem Künstler oder der toleranten Stadt die Rede (vgl. z.B. Florida 2002 S.252ff, Sonnenburg 2007 S.1). Diese Behauptungen sind grundsätzlich nicht falsch[3], vermitteln aber ein eingeschränktes Bild der Kreativität. Die Verallgemeinerungen bergen die Gefahr, dass Kreativität von spezifischen Kontexten (z.B. besonderen kulturellen, sozialen oder wirtschaftlichen Systemen) losgelöst betrachtet wird (Krätke 2011 S.14). Damit wird diesem multidimensionalen Begriff Unrecht getan.

[1] Lenk differenziert bereits an dieser Stelle zwischen natürlicher und menschlicher Kreativität. Natürliche Kreativität ist dabei als ein prozessual ablaufendes „Grundprinzip der Weltentwicklung“ (Lenk 2000 S.300) zu verstehen, welches von darwinistischen Selektionsvorstellungen bis zu universalen, kosmologischen Verständnissen reicht (vgl. Sonnenburg 2007 S.6). Menschliche Kreativität ist ebenfalls ein Prozess, der allerdings bewusst, intentional, strategische, planerisch, produktiv oder zielorientiert abläuft (Lenk 2000 S.299f). In diesem Sinne kann natürliche Kreativität als „Zufallskreativität“ und menschliche Kreativität als „Designkreativität“ bezeichnet werden (vgl. Lenk 2000 S.315). Der Fokus dieser Arbeit richtet sich vor allem auf menschliche Kreativität, allerdings werden auch richtungweisende Erkenntnisse aus dem Bereich der natürlichen Kreativität zur Erreichung der Forschungsziele berücksichtigt.

[2] In der Literatur wird auch von den 3P’s (people, product, process) (Mayer 1999), den 4 P’s (person (or personality), process, product, place (or press)) (Rhodes 1961, Mooney 1963, Urban 2004), den 5 P’ (Person, Problemstellung, Problemumfeld, Prozess, Produkt) (Preiser 2006) oder von den 6 P’s (person (or personality), process, product, place (or press), persuasion, potential) gesprochen (Runco 2007). Im Hinblick auf die Fragestellung der Arbeit erweist sich eine leicht abgewandelte Form der 6 P’s (Problem, Person, Platz (Ort), Prozess, Produkt oder Prototyp, Presse oder Persuation (Überzeugungskraft) am fruchtbarsten.

[3] Im Hinblick auf die Raumbindung von Kreativität zeigen zahlreiche Abhandlungen,dass Kreativität ebenso in kleinen Städten vorhanden ist oder in Dispensen Netzwerken organisiert werden kann (z.B. Bell & Jayne 2006 S.4, van Heur 2009 S.1548, Labour & Puissant 2009 S.15, Huber 2012 S.107).

Auszug: Suwala, Lech: Kreativität, Kultur und Raum. – Ein wirtschaftsgeographischer Beitrag am Beispiel des kulturellen Kreativitätsprozesses. Springer. Wiesbaden 2014, S.36-38.