Moralizing the Art Market: A Socioeconomic Perspective on Art Auctions on the Floor and Online

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Recent analyses of the art world show that the market has taken a primary position in generating the narratives of the art discourse which was led in the past by museums and curators. This shift raises a significant political issue: while conventional curatorial practices are subjective and elitist, we might assume that a shift towards the primacy of more organic structures, such as the market, conveys a more equal representation of the participants in the art world, and thus a more ethical structure of it. Yet ethics is a concept that is more social than economic, and the above assumption therefore depends on the prevailing economic approach at a particular time and place, and the political and cultural agenda it serves. This paper aims to offer a qualitative analysis of the contemporary art market as shaped by the neoliberal conditions underlying it, through the perspective of moral economy. Specifically, this study will evaluate the concept of equality in relation to online auctions, positioning the latter at the crossroads of political and social theory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Journal Journal for Art Market Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Art market
  • Art auctions
  • Internet
  • moral economics


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