Art, Economics, the Art Market
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Level: Undergraduate
Division: Parsons The New School for Design
School: School of Art and Design History and Theory
Department: Art and Design History
Course Number: PLAH 4021
Course Format: Seminar
Location: Paris campus
Permission Required: No
  • Art History, Theory & Criticism
  • Economics
  • Cultural Studies
You want to understand the laws of economics? You need to be acquainted with “the products of the highest industries, commonly called “Fine Arts”. So said the art critic and economist John Ruskin in 1872. But what if the reverse was also true ? This class will propose an overview the dialogue between art and economics since the beginnings of the private art market. The first part of the semester will present how art production can be considered from economic perspectives. Are artworks good investments? Is being an artist a profession like any other? During the second sequence of this class, the terms will be reversed, and we will study how art and artists can become producers of critical economic thinking. In particular the following themes will be examined: art as gift since the Renaissance; the avant-garde’s traditional role as a resistance against capitalism; the Surrealists’ commitment to an economics of gift, surplus and excess; and subversions of international commerce in the 1970s’. Readings will be selected from artists’ writings, art historical literature, but also economic, sociological and anthropological literature.
Course Open to: Degree Students
Course Pre/Co-requisites:
Open to: All university undergraduate degree students. Pre-requisite(s): first-year university writing course and at least two prior history or methods course in art, media, film, or visual culture. One of these courses should be 3000-level.


Open to Undergraduate students.


Open to Paris students.