2021 Abstracts Stage 3

Separating Art from the Artist: An Investigation into the Commodification of Art and its Effects

Katie Arnell, 2021, Stage 3

The issue of whether we can, and should, separate art from the artist is perennial. This project considers the question of separating art from the artist and assess the effects of commodification of art in respect to it. Looking at competing ideas of artistic interpretation and focussing on the approach of historical materialism, this project presents a Marxist view of art and places commodification at the centre of the issue. This project considers Adorno and Horkheimer’s contributions to the subject in the form of their theory of the Culture Industry.

This project found that the effect of the commodification of art was the separation and alienation of the artist from their art. It suggests that this separation and alienation is a necessary feature of production in capitalist societies. The concept of autonomous art is presented as a potential solution to this problem, being defined by its functionlessness and the idea that it cannot or is not commodified.

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