In this hotbed, I was on my way to Tate during a heatwave in London (15-20th of July 2016). I first dropped by Shoreditch to have my own personal moment as I was exploring the street art in Shoreditch, and the crowded Colombia Road Market. Running late to a lunch appointment at Tate Modern; I was forced into the tube, and listen to "contemporary music gone wrong". To be honest my skepticism was brooding before I even had entered the South Banks; my destination, and the site of Tate Gallery of Modern Art. It was a hot Sunday at 17th of July, and it seamed as though the whole city had headed for Tate, to cool their heads down. The hectic lot of people, didn't exactly facilitate a spiritual moment, but all of a sudden I was in front of the ONE most groundbreaking piece of art history since its origin; Marcel Duchamp's urinal, titled the Fountain (Duchamp, 1917). Suddenly I recalled why I once started studying art history, and why my skepticism for institutional art is expanding. Though, I am not the first person to pose questions on 'art as an institution'. Institutional criticism started out with Duchamp and the twenties Avant-garde. However; prior to the Avant-garde of the early twentieth century, the institutional art world and its Modernist Avant-garde's offspring, was marked by core historical events and incidents of the mid and late nineteenth century, that enabled the Avant-gardes to emerge as a movement. However, the first out to mark a change in mindsets into the modern, was thus, eighteenth century Kant; with his Critique of Pure Reason (1781), Critique of Practical Reason (1788), and Critique of Judgement (1790). Nontheless, significant scientific, philosophical works and inventions of the nineteenth century, were: Marx's Communist Manifesto (1848), Darwin's Origin of Species (1859), Clerk-Maxwell's Theory of Electro Magnetic Radiation (1873), and First wovie camera patented (1891) (Tansey and Kleiner, 1996b, pp. 926-927). Peak art works were: Goya's The Third of May (1808), Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People (1830), Courbet's Buriel at Ornans (1849), Cézanne's Mont Sainte-Victorie With Viaduct (1887) (Tansey and Kleiner, 1996b, pp. 926-927). Later came Manet's Luncheon on Grass (1862), A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882), as well as Rodin's Burghers of Calais (1886) (Tansey and Kleiner, 1996b, pp. 926-927). (See Tansey and Kleiner, 1996c, pp. 922-1018, for more details on singular art works, political and territorial dominance, and era in question). These scientists and artists mark the peak of transition; made step-by-step, into the modern world of art. The nineteenth century was also saturated with a war between science and religion, that had profound consequenses for the transition into a modern and institutionalized art world (Tansey and Kleiner, 1996b, p. 929). It was, thus most of all; evolution and progress, shaped by core ideas of the 'survival of the fittest', the Marxist manifesto and Kantian self-criticism -- that shaped the intellectual and artistic progress into a modern art world (Tansey and Kleiner, 1996c, pp. 926-929). This era in the art world, was also profoundly shaped by a restless and flickering world of imperialism, racism and nationalism, according to Tansey and Kleiner (1996c, p. 928), in which the Modernist Avant-garde had to take a stance.
For Europe, the nineteenth century was an age of rapid change during wich the modern world took shape. In a world experiencing population explosion of unparalleled magnitude, revolution followed revolution, a pattern punctuated by counterrevolution and conservative reaction. This was the erea in which the modern nation-state and accompanying ideas of nationalism was born. European governments extended their rule to virtually every part of the globe , spreading the influence of European culture [...], and clearing the way for infuences back to Europe. The formation of empires abroad was supported by the enthusiasm of popular nationalism at home, and patriotism and imperialism went hand in hand (Tansey and Kleiner, 1996c, p. 928).
In the nineteenth century Germany had emerged as the intellectual and artistic centre. At the beginning of the twentieth century, two German movements had great impact on the art world: these two movements were called; Die Brücke and Die Blaue Reiter. Die Brücke (the bridge), was established by a group of architects, in Dresden, in 1905, and among them were artists and architects such as Kirchner, Bleyl, Heckel, Schmitt-Rottluff, Nolde and Mueller. They set out to bridge the gap between the old craft traditions, and early twentieth century art. Though, it was up to a second German movement of artists, to cheer forward an artistic style in the art world; primitivism. The movement; Die Blaue Reiter (the blue rider), was founded by Kadinskij and Macke, in München, in 1911. They sought to strenghten the influences of primitive art on; at that time; contemporary art. Both movements; Die Brücke and Die Blaue Reiter, had great impact on expressive art, to come. Nonetheless, at the turn of the century the gravity of the art world shifted from Germany to France. In the 1920s and 1930s France took the leading role; with Paris arriving at the frontline; as the most influential capital of art. Aspiring artists and intellectual mindsets of the Avant-garde, gathered in Paris, to loosen up the boundaries of 'art as an institution'. It was, thus, the French Revolution that changed the foundation for artists and their art works: a divide between fine arts and crafts was prominent, and it was the industrial revolution, that had started to ruin the old craft traditions (Gombrich, 1995b, p. 499). In contemporary art; the old craft traditions, has, thus, again seen its revival. However, the artists of the twentieth century entered an uncertain era that ultimately resulted in two world wars. In this era of uncertainty, the artists had to choose to follow their artistic intuition, and develop a personal style, followed by a lack of economic security; or take missions; secure their economy, and loose respect from other artists (Gombrich, 1995b, pp. 502-503). The independent, uncompromising and sincere artist, stood in stark contrast to the use of clichés in the public style, created by conservative artists Gombrich argues (1995b, p. 504 and 511). The nineteenth century, nevertheless, laid the foundation for an individual and uncompromising art, in which the value of artistic autonomy, eventually came into the spotlight. The nineteenth century, therefore represented both a prelude to a progressive modern art world, as well as it also represented a potential lag of traditions, intellectual mindsets and societal compositions -- societal inertia. At the late nineteenth century, the artists started to question their own style and became more skeptical of given rules and virtuosity, Gombrich states (1995c, p. 551). They longed for a style that not just consisted of old tricks; a style that was not just a style, but most of all originated from something strong and passionate (Gombrich, 1995c, p. 551). However, not everyone accepted the doctrine of progress that had emerged in the nineteenth century (Tansey and Kleiner, 1996c, p. 930). The Avant-gardes of the early twentieth century, was thus, confronted with, took lessons from, adopted; and finally rejected the ideas of the nineteenth century, that could not withstand the tooth of time. The most progressive, experimental and radical thoughts, ideas and concepts of the nineteenth century, thus, gave a promise of something new in the work. The most promising artists started to experiment and proclaimed new directions and isms (Gombrich, 1995a, p. 557). What was stirring the pot, was rapid changes, vast upheavals and fierce counter parties, that clashed against each other. As a result; societal components, intellectual thoughts, and artistic ideas were shaken around and -- became more experimental, radical and progressive. A new understanding of 'human nature' had also emerged during the late nineteenth century; one which had grown considerable complex: Tansey and Kleiner (1996c, p. 929), argued that "human nature was not a constant, but an organic variable, subject to natural forces and indefinite change". Nevertheless, founded in an era of 'natural forces and indefinite change'; of which the late nineteenth century mindsets represented; the critical sense, the experimentation, the progressive ideas and the radical mindsets of the twentieth century Modernist Avant-garde, started to awake, take shape and gain forces:
We find that the adherents and promoters of modern art, critics and artists alike, represent themselves as being in disagreement and conflict with their styles and tastes, and what is most significant, that they maintain that they are, unlike their opponents, representatives of progress. They lead the march into the modern world. They are its Avant-garde (Tansey and Kleiner, 1996c, p. 930).
Rooted in nineteenth century historical incidents and core scientific works and art works, the early twentieth century arose and built upon the previous century's learnings and rejected parts of it -- in a pure Darwinist spirit: the progress into the twenties Modernist Avant-garde movement, was no sudden break, according to Greenberg (1960). It evolved constantly and smoothly; from an idiosyncratic pluralism of styles; in the nineteenth century, into a more complex and nuanced criticism of 'art as an institution'; at the early phases of the twentieth century; when modernism struck solid roots (Tansey and Kleiner, 1996c, p. 927). However, at the turn of the century, and into the twentieth century, other significant historical events and scientific works and art works, shaped the understanding of 'art as an institution'. Core influential historical events, inventions and scientific works were: First trans-Atlantic Radio Signal (1901), Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), Max Planck's Quantum Theory (1900), Wright brother's first flight (1903), Einstein's Theory of Relativity (1905-1915), Niels Bohr's Atomic Theory (1913), World War I begins (1914), The Great Depression (1930s), Fascism in Italy (1920s-1930s), Rise of nazism in Germany (1930s), World War II begins (1939), and Jung's (1875-1961) Analytical psychology (Tansey and Kleiner, 1996a, pp. 1018-1019). Around the middle and later twentieth century other peak historical events and inventions were: Commercial TV begins (1940s), Existentialism (1930-50s), Atomic bomb devastates Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1945), Transistor invented (1948), Crick and Watson's Structure and function of DNA (1954), Sputnik I launched (1957), Computer chip invented (1959), Corporation for public broadcasting formed (1967), Laser invented (1960), Moon landing 1969), Personal computers introduced (1975), Vietnam War ends (1975), and The "Cybernetic Revolution" (1990s). Core events in the art world were: Die Brücke (1905) the Futurist Manifesto (1909), Die Blaue Reiter (1911), the Dadaist Manifesto (1916), Bauhaus founded (1919), the Realistic Manifesto (1920), and the Surrealist Manifesto (1924). In the later twentieth century; Postmodernism in art and literature took shape (from 1970s and on wards); in which the institutionalized art world became more politically oriented (Tansey and Kleiner, 1996a, pp. 1018-1019 and 1996b, pp. 1090-1091). The peak works of art and artists that shaped the institutionalized art world were: Matisse's Red Room (Harmony in Red) (1908-1909), Picasso's The Girls of Avignon (1907), Braque's The Portuguese (1911), Duchamp's Fountain (1917), Picasso's Guernica (1937), as well as Hopper's Nighthawks (1942) (Tansey and Kleiner, 1996a, pp. 1018-1019). Later came the art works of Stella's Nunca Pasa Nada (1964), and Tansey's Innocent Eye Test (1981). (See Tansey and Kleiner, 1996a, pp. 1018-1090, and 1996b, pp. 1090-1154, for more details on singular art works, political and territorial dominance, and eras in question). The features of artists as independent, uncompromising and autonomous Avant-gardes, grew even stronger at the beginning of the twentieth century. Their resistance were displayed in the embodiment of art works; such as Duchamp's Fountain (1917); that went even further than the nineteenth century, in revolting and standing up against the more traditional and conservative forces, of the institutional art world. However, the early twentieth century Avant-garde was also inspired and shaped by earlier scientific works, such as the works of Kant, Marx and Darwin -- to form a highly Kantian self-critical, experimental and progressive, radical, evolutionary and Marxist core of intellectuals and artists -- at a time highly interrupted and shaped by the devastations and misery of wars. The early twentieth century and mid-twentieth century of European nation-states, were highly marked by two devastating and destructive world wars. These wars were accompanied by imperialism, racism and nationalism -- a capitalist and expansionist enterprise (Tansey and Kleiner, 1996a, p. 1020). The core phenomena of the early twentieth century and mid-twentieth Century; imperialism, racism and nationalism, also motivated the two world wars (Tansey and Kleiner, 1996a, p. 1020). The First World War (1914-1918), spread misery, social disruption, and economic collapse (Tansey and Kleiner, 1996a, p. 1020). Prior to the Second World War, hatred of democratic institutions, civil rights, the personal autonomy of citizens and competitive capitalism, had rooted and swept across the world (Tansey and Kleiner, 2996a, p. 1020). The institutionalized art world was not protected from these societal currents and conflicts, but had to face it. The Second World War (1939-1945), was basically fueled by the progress in science and technology. Though, science and technology, in the twentieth century, was also stimulated by the Second World War (Tansey and Kleiner, 1996a, p. 1020). In this violent transformation of the globe; through the means of science and and technology, as well as war; each had to choose their allies, and seize the opportunities that new technologies and science, brought.
Nevertheless, science and technology and its achievements are understood to be the manifestation of progress. Science has made the modern world, and to acknowledge this and to live accordingly is to be authentically progressive, which in its very broadest sense, means modern. Modernity, the condition of being modern, rejects the past as having been passed by. To live by past ideas and values is to regress; those still living in pre modern conditions are in a stage of underdevelopment and immaturity [according to the principle of modernism]. The centuries-old contest between the "ancients" and the "moderns" is now decided in favor of the moderns -- once for all. (Tansey and Kleiner, 1996a, p. 1021).
The Modernist worldview was, thus, incomplete and had inherent errors -- that gave the contemporary Avant-gardes something to work on (Tansey and Kleiner, 1996a, p.1022). However, in a time of a dawning Modernism, Duchamp, was confronted with war, imperialism, racism, nationalism, and progress in form of science and technology, as well as an expanding competitive capitalism -- a society of rapid change and vast upheavals. All these characteristics of the early and mid-twentieth century shaped the Modernist Avant-garde movement, which Duchamp was a part of. It was thus, in addition, a more personal conflict that caused Duchamp to turn against 'art as an institution'. It might seem natural to a man; such as Duchamp, that questioned his own identity; religious stance and sexual orientation, that he also would questioned the identity of 'art as an institution' (Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999a, b and c). Duchamp's attack on art as an institution, was; with a Fountain; 'a plain piece of plumbing'; a readymade; an industrial produced urinal; which he did not make himself. He only signed it under a pseudonym. The readymade, was executed by chance, which was familiar to Dadaist Methods. Duchamp, during an interview, argued that the readymades was created in a 'vague and accidental' manner 'letting things go by themselves' (Duchamp; Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999d, p. 146). He further stated that "life and art was a matters of chance and choice, freed from the conventions of society and tradition" (Tansey and Kleiner, 1996a, p. 1071). The readymade was simply a 'work of art without an artist to make it' (Duchamp; Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999d, p. 146). To understand Duchamp's art works; according to Tansey and Kleiner (1996a, p. 1072), is "an intellectual exercise that yields different and continually shifting "meanings" for each individual". His attitude, the choices he made; on behalf of the art world, and the shifting meanings embodied in his art works, makes Marcel Duchamp's art just as important for Modernist; as for Postmodernist art (Tansey and Kleiner, 1996, p. 1072). The embodiment of his art works also stand out as key factor; to understand Duchamp: the readymades were created privately in the atmosphere of the studio; and according to Duchamp -- it was up to the artist's 'choice' to decide whether it was art, or not (Ades, Cox and Hopkins (1999d, p. 146). Duchamp's readymades were also an expression of anesthetics and anti-art (Ades, 1974, p. 118-119, Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999a, p. 122 and p. 131). Anti-art was imposed and initiated as the new and radical art, in which mass-produced artifacts, entered the art scene as -- art. As anti-art and anesthetics, the readymades had a thrilling 'absence of good and bad taste'; and a clearly expressed 'visual indifference' (Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999d, p. 154). Rather than emphasizing on esthetics, the artist's of the artifacts turned their readymades into mindblowing manifestations, and "In place of "taste" Duchamp gave ideas" (Tansey and Kleiner, 1996a, p. 1070). Bürger (1984) supports this view; he argues that the ideas of the Avant-gardiste, was turned into impressive manifestations:
Duchamp's ready-mades are not work of art but manifestations. Not from the form-content totality of the individual object Duchamp signs can one infer meaning, but only from the contrast between mass-produced object on the one hand, and signature and art exhibit on the other (Bürger, 1984, p. 52).
The Fountain (Duchamp, 1917) was, thus, not just a new and radical work of art; or an idea that stood out, but also a groundbreaking manifestation, that emphasized the importance of the artist's 'choice' (Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999d). Under a pseudonym, the artifact was delivered to an exhibition; the Independents, organized by the Society of Independent Artists' at The Grand Central Palace in New York, US (Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999a, 2018). There were no rules attached to exhibiting: all artists who applied to exhibit and paid six dollars in fee, should in principle be invited to exhibit their art work (Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999a). Nevertheless: the Fountain (Duchamp, 1917), was refused to exhibit and was faced with the organizers censorship (Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999a, p. 128). The artifact, in fact, caused quite a scandal. It was criticized for being indescant, immoral, vulgar, offensive, 'breaking social and artistic taboos', as well as for plagiarism (Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999a, pp. 127-128). Questions aroused; "What is ART?", "Is he serious or is he joking?", and if it was recognized to exhibit; "Because it is exhibited must it be art?" (Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999b, pp. 128-130). And further; should the organizers of the exhibition; as an art institution, decide what art was, or should the artist himself or herself, decide? A tug of war on who was in power crystallized itself (Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999a, p. 128-130). Duchamp's only editorial statement and defense of the readymade; under the pseudonym; Richard Mutt, was as following:
They say any artist paying six dollars may exhibit. Mr Richard Mutt sent in a fountain. Without discussion this article disappeared and never was exhibited. What were the grounds for refusing Mr Mutt's fountain: -- 1. Some contended that it was immoral, vulgar. 2. Others, it was plagiarism, a plain piece of plumbing. Now Mr Mutt's fountain is not immoral, that is absurd, no more than a bath tub is immoral. It is a fixture that you see every day in plumbers' show windows. Whether Mr Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not is of no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view -- created a new thought for that object. As for plumbing, that is absurd. The only works of art America has given are her plumbing and her bridges (Mutt; Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999a, p. 127).
Norton, thus, defended the smooth curves of the urinal as real art, calling it a 'Buddha of the Bathroom' (in Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999a, pp. 127-130). Others again, associated it with 'Like the legs of the ladies by Cézanne' or 'Virgin Mary'. Nevertheless; was the urinal intended as an ironic 'mockery' (familiar to caricature), or as serious art? perhaps both, Norton concludes (in Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999a and c). As a twentieth century modernist work of art, its core ideas originated in nineteenth century Kantian self-criticism (Greenberg, 1960, p. 5). Kant (in Guyer and Wood, 1998, p. 113; Pissarro, 2009, p. 42) states: "Pure speculative reason has this peculiarity about it, that it can and should measure its own capacity". So should art; according to the twenties Modernist Avant-garde. Pissarro (2009, p. 42), thus adds; for Kant 'critiquing was a never-ending activity' embodied in reason. Reason should examine itself, test its limits and prevent itself from falling into illusionary traps (Pissaro, 2009, p. 42). The dawning Modernism as a discipline; in an genuine Kantian spirit, was therefore characterized by criticizing the discipline in itself, it was thus, more farreaching in its criticism than previously stated, Greenberg argued in 1960:
Modernism includes more than art and literature. By now it covers almost the whole of what is truly alive in our culture. It happens, however, to be very much a historical novelty. Western civilization is not the first civilization to turn around and question its foundations, but it is the one that has gone the furthest in doing so. I identify Modernism with the intensification, almost exacerbation, of this self-critical tendency that began with the philosopher Kant. Because he was the first to criticize the means of criticism, I conceive of Kant as the first Modernist (Greenberg, 1960, p. 85; Pissarro, 2009, p. 42).
Modernism rejected past traditions and emphasized the autonomy, self value and Kantian self-criticism of the discipline (kunsthistorie.com, 2018, Greenberg, 1960). However, each artist had to make their own interpretations of the Kantian self-criticism, seize the autonomy of their profession, and find what was 'peculiar and exclusive' in their own work of art (their self value) (kunsthistorie.com, 2018, Greenberg, 1960, p. 5). Duchamp did this with his readymades; embodied with institutional criticism. His' readymades, was in its nature a rebellious, humoristic and playful expression of institutional skepticism -- he revolted against 'art as an institution'. Schulte-Sasse (1984, p. xiv), thus, argues; "The historical avant-garde of the twenties was the first movement in art history that turned against the institution "art"". Nor did they take autonomy for granted. Schulte-Sasse (1984, p. xviii) further stresses the fact that; art does not necessarily communicate with the society, but offers something in addition -- resistance. This artistic resistance, was boldly evident in Duchamp's flamboyant urinal: he did a reality check on the existing rules on power of the institutionalized art world. Though, it was not just appearance at art exhibitions, that played the key role in inviting artifacts into the the institutionalized art world as art: a number of smaller radical art magazines had emerged; often created by artists themselves; which circulated in the Avant-gardes art milieus, that had a profound impact on the more traditional institutionalized art world. These radical magazines were also part of the 'cultural infrastructure', that allowed the artists and their artifacts to become parts of the more radical sides of the art world. These Avant-gardes contested the rules of the traditional and institutionalized art world -- they emerged as a new kind of power; in defining what art was. In emergency, all the godness in the Avant-garde aroused; as a radical core of them, offered their resistance and -- objected; as they defended Duchamp's Fountain! Because; the inventive and groundbreaking, experimental, mindblowing and radical; Fountain (Duchamp, 1917), was later taken to Stieglitz's studio to be photographed for the rather short lived radical Dadaist magazine; The Blind Man, where it reappeared with Harley's painting; the Warriors (1913), as a visual background (Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999a, p. 129). The Fountain (Duchamp, 1917), was thus, not invited into the traditional institutionalized art world or; at least not into an art exhibition -- but the Avant-gardes exploited their newborn artistical power; protested, and invited it in; as a pure act of resistance. The institutionalized art world consisted not only of art institutions: the core of the institutionalized art world; in Modernism, was most of all its unpredictable; Avant-garde. And; this was not the last time in the history of art, that the Avant-garde would sprinkle with their power feathers. From the twenties Avant-garde and onwards; they are a force to be reckoned with! Since; the Avant-gardes started to exercise their inherent power in the early phases of Modernism; with Duchamp at the frontline; they; from then on, became fundamental constituents; that needed to be taken into account; in the relationships of power and influence, in institutional theory. Keep this in mind. But, what does the institutional theory on art, say?
Institutional Theory emphasizes that there is a social practice with rules and designated roles underpinning the presentation of such things and that the instantiation of these social forms and relations in the required way is crucial to the art status (Carroll, 1999: 232).
The institutional theory of art suggest that the art world consists of social rules and social roles, that have huge affects on its social practices, and how the art world is socially organized (Carroll, 1999). These social practices have again great impact on the status and nature of art created and initiated. Art as an institution emphasizes that it is within the capabilities of art, to function as "systems of established and prevalent social rules that structure social interactions"; an institution by definition (Knight, 1992, p. 2; Hodgson, 2006, p. 2). Other examples of institutions are, according to Hodgson (2006); language, money, law, systems of weight and measures, table manners, and firms (p. 2). However, art as an institution, have capabilities of structuring and organizing social practices, by its rule making.
The term rule is broadly understood as a socially transmitted and customary normative injunction or immanently normative disposition, that in circumstances X do Y (Bhaskar, 1989, p. 80, p. 85, p. 112; Hodgson, 2006, p. 3). [...] The phrase immanently normative requires that if a rule is scrutinized or contested, then normative issues will emerge. [...] Rules includes norms of behavior and social conventions as well as legal rules (Hodgson, 2006, p. 3).
Rule making is also influenced by power and authority; which underpin the art world's social organization, and serve as it's institutional attributes. However, although rules seem hard to change, they are not absolute according to Bashkar (1986) and Hodgson (in Hodgson, 2006). When contested or scrutinized they might change (if normative issues has emerged). While the art institutions are more rule confirming, capitalists may either confirm rules through business as usual or innovate, the Avant-garde is, however, rule contesting. Rule making, happens as a result of an interplay between all three core actors -- a tug of war. This tug of war, is the core mechanism in the art world, which again have profound and groundbreaking effects on art as an institution. However, the thoughts of the art world as a social organization driven by rules; elaborated in institutional theory, is akin to Spencer's (1898) ideas on the society as a social organism: a living creature, just as the author herself (in Bánáthy, 2010). Living creatures confess their guilt, agony and despair, their sins and hopes in the Cathedral. They questions their souls as well as their purpose and meaning. In the heart of the Cathedral they release their inner thoughts and feelings and -- they question their Gods. Capitalism does not. An organism or a living creature, develops through evolution, such as by natural selection, variety, continuance and mutation (Rigby and Essletzbitchler, 2010). These terms are all core functions in evolutionary theory, embedded meta theoretically in 1920s Darwinism. The fundamental element of evolutionary theory, is to understand how, e.g. the art world, can self-organize or transform from within, through its core evolutionary functions (Rigby and Essletzbitchler, 2010). This process of transformation and adaption is possible, in the art world, because creativity, originality, knowledge and innovation never stays the same (Rigby and Essletzbitchler, 2010). However, while Spencer (1898; in Bànàthy 2010) argued for a socialized Darwinism, Rigby and Essletzbitchler (2010) based their concepts on generalized Darwinism. Both socialized Darwinism and generalized Darwinism is rooted in evolutionary theory. While the former focus on social aspects, the latter highlights economic aspects of transformation and adaption. Both aspects will be applied, in this brief essay, to try to understand how art as an institution has a potential to renew itself through refractions and natural selection. While some art institutions strive to renew itself, other art institutions experience stagnation. However, all art institutions are faced with great refractions that happens at different geographical scales, between different creative actors, at various places, between different creative classes, intersect vast constellations of power, and may also happen as an interplay between movements that each has its unique characteristics. Although the frequently used term refractions is somewhat abstract and hard to grasp, it may be simplified as; 'elements that breaks against each other', and in the breaking point between two elements (such as e.g. different movements, different classes, different expression, different styles, different types of power), a new end result might emerge, so that the institutionalized art world continuously evolve, change and transform. Spencer's (1889) ideas of the social organism or the living creature, such as the human body itself is easier to imagine. It serves as a metaphor to explain how the art world operates: a meaningful social organism that breathes and digests, thinks and communicates, feels, consumes and questions. Does capitalism do that? Capitalists thus have power, so do the Avant-garde and the art institutions -- all in their own idiosyncratic ways. Power, in this brief essay, is thus, defined as the capacity to influence rule making, through the core social or economic evolutionary functions, and thereby promote system change and adaption in the institutionalized art world. The evolutionary account of power in this essay is therefore both social and economic. While Spencer (1898; Bánáthy, 2010) situates his thoughts on evolutionary social systems, or the society as a creature, Rigby's and Essletzbitchler's (2010) mindsets are anchored in conceptual theories of evolutionary economics, that has other premises. It operates by other rules: evolutionary economics is criticized for taking capitalism for granted (Schot, 2016). Capitalists seeks adventures, profits, market shares and competitive advantages through processes of creative destruction (Schumpeter, 1943; Fagerberg, 2003, Mensch 1979; Tylecote, 1992). Living creatures seeks truth, meaning and love. The Cathedral open our eyes to the sky. In the heat of the metamorphosis darkness turns into lightness; material transforms into sacral; the secular converts into divine: if only for a brief moment in terms of history artifacts becomes -- art. The Cathedral is grand: you will be enlightened and empowered by its presence: the Cathedral is powerful!
By capitalist rules, art works are classified as a commodity (Krause, 2011), which can be purchased and exchanged for a price -- a process which may be dehumanizing for the artists: they questions their souls! A commodity circulate in the capitalist system -- and by doing so it changes the original meaning and content of the artists' works. This circulation process is also saturated with power or influence -- capitalism select among the population of artists and decide who will succeed and who won't. But, can you put a price on the meaning and shared content embodied in art? And, can you calculate its cultural significance? As capitalism, living creatures also seeks power and influence, capitalists are also living creatures. Saturated in power and influence, the capitalists thereby have great influence on who's 'the one to watch' and who's not. This implies that when an art work circulate in these commodifying capitalistic processes, the artists loose control of their art work; its worth, its meaning as well as its cultural significance: it stops breathing! Lynton (1995c), however argue; that by losing his/hers art work, the artist and his/hers art work establishes a relationship with the society (p. 356). Adorno, thus, claims that in "late capitalism everything, living human activity included, is increasingly so determined by valuation for another (exchange-value) that its value in and for itself tends to disappear" (in Jarvis, 1998, p. 117). This phenomenon is understood as, and discussed in Adorno's statement of art works as a; 'fetish against commodity fetishism' (Adorno; Jarvis, 1998, p. 117). Adorno (1998) is, thus, criticized for an periodization of modernism and for being to pessimistic in his social analysis (Schulte-Sasse, 1984, p. xix). However, Adorno's concept of art as a 'fetish against commodity fetishism' is rooted in Marx's theories on 'commodity fetishism':
Marx argued that the economic conditions of capitalism created the phenomenon of 'commodity fetishism', the tendency to ascribe to ordinary objects quasi-human powers and desires. Money itself, [as an institution], the symbol of all commodities, with its apparently unaccountable fluctuations in the market, continues to dictate human fortunes [; such as the artists' fortune] (Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999d, p. 161).
For Adorno, art offers a resistance to 'commodity fetishism' -- art may counteract with capitalism, and question its nature. In addition to Adorno; Krause (2011) also expresses his frustrations with the unpredictable and commodifying forces of capitalism, that shapes the contexts of 'capitalist profitability' versus 'created meaning' in the capitalist art market of commodities:
The arts currently serve the needs of the free market, not the needs of human beings. The central goals of the free market are accumulation and growth -- goals which the arts have been falsely forced to serve. The arts have other values -- from creating and sharing meaning [...] -- that are far more important than profitability (Krause, 2011, p. 11).
Krause (2011) does not take capitalism for granted. Nevertheless, he argues that the current situation of the art world, is a situation where the rules of capitalism dominates. This puts pressure on the artists' original intentions and purpose with their art works. The art works that are subjected to capitalist accumulation, are also affected by its processes of 'create and destroy' (Rigby and Essletzbitchler, 2010). Creative destruction claims that new innovations face out or destroy 'fossil' innovations and thereby drives or creates economic growth, progress or development (Schumpeter, 1942; Fagerberg, 2003, Caballero, 2017). This phenomenon is by Schumpeter (1942) understood as 'the essential fact about capitalism' (in Caballero, 2017). The process of creative destruction and capitalist accumulation enables new innovations to be created, in the economy as well as in the art world. Capitalism may thereby have great influence on the processes of which new artistic expressions are being created, just as well as it may constrain forceful creativity through its natural selection processes: it is enabling as well as constraining. Capitalist rules creates a (neoliberal) marked for art that is rough, challenging and selective, but also full of opportunities! The art market is, thus, a segment of the neoliberal market, which Duchamp expressed his skepticism about: "Duchamp's provocation not only unmasks the art market where the signature means more than the quality of the work" (Bürger, 1984, p. 52). Duchamp's ready-mades, such as the Fountain (1917), may also be interpreted as a counter reaction or revolt against the existing social order -- in a genuine modernist spirit (Schulte-Sasse, 1984, p. xii). However; to separate 'art' and 'commodity', in the neoliberal art market, Duchamp, nonetheless, called a hypocrisy:
Through the encounter with the commodity object expressed in both the readymades and the notes, Duchamp also highlights the traditional hypocrisy of pretending that there is a contradiction between 'Art' and 'Commodity' and that aesthetic and commodity values are totally opposed to another (Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999d, p. 160).
To mark this statement, Duchamp considered to create advertisements for his readymades, such as e.g. Chocolate Grinder (Duchamp; Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999d, p. 160). It is, thus, fitting that; at the height of his activity with the readymades, they were to be exhibited in 'the heart of the consumer market'; New York, US, according to Ades, Cox and Hopkins (1999d, p. 166). No hypocrisy: Duchamp inventively united commodity and art, such as in the Rotoreliefs (Optical Disks) (1935). When commodity and art is united; innovations in the art market and in the culture industry, is created and destroyed; in the capitalist mode of production's view through two institutions; money and art. However; the institutional art world may also be influenced by capitalist investment and funding in form of -- imperialism.
In additions to capitalists investments several acclaimed art critics, art curators and scientists, argue that it is; well-documented, that the Cold World's art world has been subjected to imperialism, such as the CIA's strategically funding of the moderate left rather than far left communism; the stance of the intellectuals in Europe and USA (Anfam; Sooke, 2016, Guevara, 2018). Sandler, however, argue that "there was absolutely no involvement of any government agency" (in Sooke, 2016). This view is not supported by Anfam, Saunders, Kozloff, Sooke and Guevara. Saunders (1995) claim that the CIA was funding the Congress of Cultural Freedom (CCF); an anti-communist advocacy group, (which operated in 35 countries), as well as a 'dizzying' number of art magazines and several core exhibitions of Abstract Expressionism during the '50s (in Sooke, 2016, Guevara, 2018). Links to New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and Boston Symphony Orchestra, was also revealed (Saunders, 1995; Sooke, 2016, Guevara, 2018). Saunders (1995) even states that the CIA supported the exhibition; The New American Painting (1958-59), at Tate Gallery of Modern Art; the Cathedral of Modern Art (in Sooke, 2016). As Sooke (2016), and many other art critics, art curators and scientists continuously debates and questions: "Was modern art a weapon of the CIA?" (Sooke, 2016). Kozloff (1973) argue that Abstract Expressionism was a form of propaganda, supported by the political ideology of the Post-War American regime (in Sooke, 2016). Saunders (1995, 1999) notes that this was, altogether, a part of 'the cultural cold war' (in Sooke, 2016). She argues that the American wave of Abstract Expressionism was funded in more than 20 years (Saunders, 1995; Sooke, 2016). The American regime's controversial cover was, however blown in 1967, according to Guevara (2018). She (2018) argues that to CIA communism was equal to Nazism -- the far off enemy. The art institutions reactions to the politically strategical investments of the CIA, has afterwords been to downplay politics and favor abstract art, and the autonomy and freedom of the Avant-garde: a wise decision (Guevara, 2018).
Abstract Expressionism was bound with the concept of individual freedom: its canvases were understood as expressions of the subjective inner lives of the artists who painted them (Sooke, 2016).
By supporting Abstract Expressionism, the American regime, according to Anfam, wanted to embody or foster a view of art with an "America [as...] the land of the free, whereas Russia was locked up, culturally speaking" (in Sooke, 2016). While the dominantly funded style in the US was Abstract Expressionism; the official style of Russia was the Soviet Realist Style (Sooke, 2016). In addition to the iron curtain in the world during the Cold War, Wright (1956) argue, that there was also a color curtain (in Guevara, 2018). Discrimination based on color swept through the western societies. Discrimination was not just a phenomenon separate to the art world, it basically intruded the atmosphere of the institutional art world. Taken together; capitalism, imperialism and discrimination integrated, are powers that might affect the freedom and autonomy of the artists, abstract art and art as an institution is, thus, not an enemy -- capitalism, imperialism and discrimination, however, is according to Guevara (2018). Art is our hero! The Avant-garde is our safe harbor, yet occasionally a joyful, sober and bewildering free force. They playfully questions everything. An artist with a conscious relation to their art works should, thus, be aware of and question their relation to their inheritance, how they innovate, and their core motivation -- as part of a (constructed) movement (Lynton, 1995a, pp. 9-10).
The story of modern art is usually told in terms of movements: [...]. It was as group events that developments tended to come before the public, and in some instances (Futurism, Surrealism) it is true that the art and its movement context fittingly went together. But in most cases the movement was a fabrication -- a convenient arrangement for artists of some similarity of direction but lacking the support that membership of an academy or well-established society would bring them, or just cohesiveness imposed from the outside (Lynton, 1995a, p. 10).
Example of modernist movements are; Fauvism, Surrealism, Futurism, Cubism and Expressionism (Lynton, 1995a, p. 10). Duchamp was found in the Dadaist and later, particularly Surrealist movement, in which exhibitions and meetings he attended sporadically -- these movements allowed Duchamp all the freedom he needed in his profession as an Avant-garde modernist artist, to form his own unique critique of art as an institution (Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999). The notion of movements within modern art, thus, stresses the similarities of characteristics within the group, that breaks with other movements' characteristics -- refraction of movements. While the cradle of modern art movements was Paris, by the '40s to '70s London, and particularly New York, became the dominant art hubs. Berlin also took a powerful position. Marcel Duchamp was an eager participant in the New York's and Paris's Avant-garde milieus. (Lynton, 1995b). He gained a "super-heroic status as the Mephistopheles of the old modernism and the Messiah of a New" (Lynton, 1995b, p. 229). Along with Duchamp, it was the second world war, that brought many European artists to New York and London.
The second world war marked the end of European world leadership. It marked also the end of Paris's artistic leadership. The suppression of creative art in the totalitarian countries of Europe, followed by the closing down of Continental Europe as German military control spread and many Continental artists and intellectuals fled westwards, gave special opportunities to America and in some degree to Britain also (Lynton, 1995b, p. 226).
New York and London have kept their dominant position in the art world, mostly because artists in these two art hubs, are supported by a vast 'cultural infrastructure', such as non-profit organizations, artist-led initiatives, private foundations and state supported institutions, Harris (2013) claims. London is, however, currently equally as innovative within the art world as New York. The 'cultural infrastructure' of the art world, is the spine of art as an institution, and it enables artists to grow artistically. Artists, however, react to human made or caused incidents from the universe to the body. As a result; the knowledge and insight of the human puzzle, is continuously expanding. We need our Avant-garde; our safe harbor (or free zone), to test everything from the most subtle, to the most explosive sides to human nature. Lynton (1995c) notes that "Some art speaks, some art shouts, but the best art needs to be questioned a little and listened to a lot" (p. 358). We also need the nature of art, to question and contest our rules. We need to be asking; are we on the right track, continuously. Where is the world heading? All the ideas, opinions and concepts embodied in the social and organizational insight and nature of human beings, are thoughtfully represented, uttered and contested by the Avant-garde masterpieces. The Avant-garde should therefore; in an ideal state, represent the world.
The Avant-garde as a safe harbor, intersecting with Spencer's (1898; Bánáthy, 2010) ideas of the society as a social organism, thus, fills me with hope. Spencer's (1898; Bánáthy, 2010) thoughts suggests that the art world can be regarded as a social organism -- an institutional framework or environment that is vibrant and dynamical -- it is alive! Though; not completely in power of or resistant to capitalism's and imperialism's investments and funding or discriminating forces. The Avant-garde is, thus, more resistant, free and autonomous; sometimes unaware, and at other times susceptible to the powers in their back. From its origin they are in power of their art works, though, they are not entirely in power of its continuance. When the artists have completed and exhibited their art works, it's up to others to define its status. This process has huge effects on the continuance of the art work; its cultural significance, its created and shared meaning, the artist's career, and our understanding of art as an institution. Art as an institution suggests that those with particular knowledge, experience, and understanding of art works are selected and possess the power to define the artifacts' potential art status -- on the behalf of the art world (Carroll, 1999, p. 230). In line with these argument the art world as a social organization can be seen as a natural selection environment, that decides who has influence on defining the status of art: who counts and who doesn't? As an institution and natural selection environment, the art world operate in a landscape of social rules, social interaction, social roles, and commodifying processes, that underpin the notions of power and natural selection. In this social context of variety and natural selection; the art world as an institution, as well as capitalist actors, cannot separate themselves from the notion of power and authority. And, it is of these very same reasons that this theory by critics, has been regarded as an elitist, inequal and anti-democratic view of the art world (Carroll, 1999, 230): the creature is imperfect. The art world as an institution simply states: "If a wrong person [...] puts forward an artifact, he will not possess the capability to confer appropriate status upon it, and the object will not be art" (Carroll, 1999, p. 231). To cut it down to the core; this theory is crystal clear: if you do not have the right qualifications, you are in no position of power or authority, to define whether an artifact is genuine art or not. But; who defines who's right or wrong? The notion of an institutionalized art world implies that there are core configurations of power and authority, that needs to be revealed to understand the process of how some artifacts are defined as art, while others are not. These natural selection processes are governed by power and authority, by art institutions, the Avant-garde and the capitalist actors. The power and authority, these actors possess, are unevenly distributed in the institutionalized art world -- socially and politically, economically and culturally, as well as geographically. But, what does this inequality of access to power and influence, stem from? There are power centers in the culture industry and in the institutional art world -- places in which meaning, resources and power configurations are reproduced, such as London, New York, Berlin, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong: places in which the internationalization of the art world, have great impact on, or places that act on behalf of the art world (Guevara, 2018). The internationalization of the art world is, thus, a result of the increased qualitative globalization in our world in general (Dicken, 2011, Guevara, 2018). The cities and power centers mentioned, are also global financial cities, from which financial investments and economic resources becomes unevenly distributed, globally. Dicken (2011) states that "contemporary processes of [economic] globalization have been accompanied by a rise in global inequality"(p. 478):
At the global scale, the development gap is stunningly wide. The developed countries are clearly 'winners'. They continue to contain a disproportionate share of the world's wealth, trade, investment and access to modern technologies [...]. The 20 per cent of the world's population living in the highest-income countries have well over 80 per cent of the world income, trade, investment and communications technology. The 20 per cent of the world's population in the poorest countries have around 1 per cent (Dicken, 2011, p. 478).
This inequality also affects the access to power and influence in the institutional art world: the rules of capitalism have huge impacts on the culture industry, in rural as well as in urban areas. Since the percentage of inhabitants living in urban areas has passed the 50 per cent tipping point; it was at 54 per cent in 2014, and this percentage will most likely rise to 66 per cent by 2050. Global cities based on economic diversity will therefore, most likely, continue to grow (United Nations, 2014). The fact that global cities are growing, and that most of the core art institutions of the art world are situated in global cities, also makes these cities power centers or nodes, in which concentrations of power accumulate. There is therefore an inequal access to power and influence attached to culture, institutions and place: this implies that the the culture you are raised in, the institutions you are related to, and the place you come from really does matter, whether it is from a rural area or an urban art hub (Dicken, 2011). Reed (2018) reminds us; although talent can be found everywhere, opportunity, cannot. Harris (2013) thus argues
The editors of "Art Cities of the Future: 21st Century Avant-Gardes", [...], say that the notion of what defining an art capital needs to broaden, as artists lay down roots far beyond the traditional power bases (Harris, 2013).
Massey supports this view that there is more to the geography of art than a simple rural/urban power base dichotomy. Power constellations are more comprehensively dispersed geographically, than previously assumed. Massey therefore stands for a more 'progressive sense of place' -- a stance that favors opportunities, change, as well as adaption (in MacEwan and Daya, 2012, p. 278). She
views places as the complex intersections and outcomes of power geometries that operates across many spatial scales from the body to the global. [...There are] multiple, intersecting social, political and economic relations, giving rise to a myriad of spatialities. Places and the social relations within and between them, then, are the results of particular arrangements of power, whether it is individual and institutional, or imaginative and material" (Massey, 1991, 1994, 1997; Hubbard, et al., 2002, p. 17).
Massey (1994; MacEwan and Daya, 2012) further argue that "the tension between the local and global" is unified, which allows for both cultural differences and cultural uniqueness (Massey, 1991, 1995; Duncan, 2000; Hubbard, et al., 2002, p. 18).
This involves people being more cosmopolitan (free of prejudice and tolerant of difference). Increasing interconnectedness means that boundaries of local cultures are seen to be more permeable, susceptible to change, and difficult to maintain than in the past (Massey, 1994, p. 151; MacEwan and Daya, 2012, p. 280).
The cosmopolitan way of being, is embedded in the hearts and mindsets of citizens in global cities such as London, Hong Kong, Berlin, Tokyo, Paris and New York. In their urban scenery a new form of artistic expression is created continuously, social identities are molded and cultures occur, are merged, collide or diminish. The interconnectedness of culture and cosmopolitan attitude at these sites, suggests that art as an institution is free of prejudice and tolerant as well as it possess abilities to adapt to new contexts. Though, there may be hidden discriminating, capitalist and imperialist forces, that has great impact on art as an institution, they influence its past, present and future path. The Avant-garde, as mentioned, promote freedom, autonomy and playful questioning; simply resistance. The institutional layers of the art world affect all geographical scales from the singular global to the more intimate local scale. They are interdependent, but the changes are also deeply embedded in what Florida (2002) calls a "shift from an industrial to a creative age" (in MacEwan and Daya, 2012, p. 273). Florida (2002) argue that "40 per cent of people in the US and UK economies [are] now working in 'creative' sectors of science, technology, culture, arts and entertainment" (in MacEwan and Daya, 2012, p. 273). Marcuse (2007) argue that Florida's concept of the creative class and creative age and the usage of art to promote economic growth, are two prime example of instrumentalization of art and producing regime culture, that reinforce existing power regimes. Marcuse (2007, p. 15) claims that the US is a striking example of these two types of instrumentalizations of art, which both are empowered by processes of globalization. He therefore argue; that in a globalized art world, art is produced by specific groups or subjects -- art becomes an instrument to reinforce power configurations, without permission from the Avant-garde (Marcuse, 2007, p. 15). In this context a more nuanced analyze of the term 'class'; should be invited into the debate, that also considers the Marxist view of the notion. Hadjinicolaou (1978/1987, p. 243) argues that style is an expression of social classes, there is therefore 'class struggle', as well as 'style struggle' in the history of art. He (1978) stresses that "...this 'struggle' takes place more often between visual ideologies of the ruling classes and the dominated classes". The Avant-gardes, thus, offers resistance; in form of artworks; to the power of the dominating class' of a society's utterances and behavior.
The art world therefore consists of refractions of different classes at different geographical scales, from the individual level to a global scale, in which power intersects. The Avant-garde of the creative age may, however, be found in all creative sectors. The refractions of arts is, thus, not just multi scalar, but also consists of refractions between different creative sectors, in which processes of natural selection, intervene. The creative age, the cosmopolitan attitude and the interconnectedness of the global art world as an institution, allows for changes to happen, as well as it is affected by its previous and current power constellations. There are natural selection processes and power centers embodied in the institutional art world, that causes inequality in the culture industry. To problematize this claim, Adorno's thoughts can be applied to present the evident opposition in the culture industry (in Jarvis, 1998). Two camps in the culture industry; popular art and high art, are competing, with Avant-gardes in each camp. While Adorno sought to bridge the gap between art history and the philosophy of art, I have taken an interdisciplinary stance to understand the complex relations of power and influence in the institutionalized art world (in Jarvis, 1998, p. 91). This, I have sought accomplished, by emphasizing on three core actors; the Avant-garde, the capitalists and art institutions -- to gain a greater understanding of art itself or art as an institution. Now, let's return to Adorno's thoughts and theories. His attack on the culture industry is that it favors popular or 'light' art over 'serious' or high art (in Jarvis, 1998, p. 72):
Light art has been the shadow of autonomous art. It is the social bad conscience of serious art. The truth which the latter necessarily lacked because of its social premises gives the other the semblance of legitimacy. The division itself is the truth: it does at least express the negativity of the culture which the different spheres constitute. Least of all can the antithesis be reconciled by absorbing light into serious art, or vice versa (Adorno, 1944, p. 157; Cumming, pp. 135-136; Jarvis, 1998, p. 73).
Although the Avant-garde operate in many creative sectors, as mentioned previously, their link to high art is particularly emphasized in the creative sectors, and by Adorno (1944; Jarvis, 1998, p. 73). Jarvis (1998), thus, argues that the "culture industry offers a false reconciliation" between popular art and high art (p. 73). While popular art seems to dominate the culture industry, high art may in many instances represent the edge of creativity, innovation and originality within 'art as an institution'. The popular arts however seems to grab a disproportionate amount of the economic resources tied to the culture industry, this causes inequality of access to power and influence in the institutional art world. The fact is, thus, that it is impossible to calculate the tremendous contributions the artists of high art, has made to our visual culture and our societies, throughout the centuries. This art form's cultural significance; in form of releasing opulent ideas, fierce creativity, and highly potent innovations, is beyond reach. Adorno; in a letter to Benjamin, expresses his frustrations on the uneven relationship between the two competing camps: high art and popular art are "torn halves of an integral freedom, to which however they do not add up" an unevenness which; in the cultural industry, seems to favor popular art (Adorno, 1938, p. 26-52; Jarvis, 1998, p. 73). In many cases these two forms of art intermingle, join forces and united create what is called 'crossover' culture (Jarvis, 1998, p. 73). In other instances the Avant-garde of high art's limitless freedom of expression, continuously seems to clash with the more popular aspects of the culture industry, that colorize the character of institutional art. Since Adorno, we have thus, experienced a violent refractions of the arts: various ideas and opinions that breaks against each other. These refractions results altogether, in a continuous move from figurative art at one end of the continuum, to abstract art at the other end -- the current state of art as an institution (Guevara, 2018). The Avant-garde, nevertheless, represent the forefront in bringing fourth new ideas and opinions, and are therefore leading contributors to the characteristics of our Zeitgeist, and prevalent currents in our global society. The art world's institutions may, however, have challenges to keep up with the new frontiers, seriousness and originality of the Avant-garde. But, how original is the Avant-garde, actually? In 1975, Benjamin stated that we have entered another shift, it was the shift from originality to the age of reproduction in the art world. While reproduction enabled mediums such as photography and film to reach the masses (democratization of art), it also questioned the originality of singular art pieces, or pieces of art with only a few reproductions, such as e.g. graphics. The introduction of the notion; reproduction, implied one fundamental issue: the very essence of the Avant-garde; their originality; was scrutinized The Gods were questioned!
Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be. This unique existence of the work of art determined the history to which it was subject throughout the time of its existence (Benjamin 1975/1987, p. 218).
Benjamin (1975/1987) argues that authenticity is not reproducible. Benjamin's (1975/1987) concept of reproduction points out the difference of art being created directly by the artist himself or herself, and art works that are reproduced by someone else; even in another style; which was the case with the Avant-gardiste Rodin's sculptures (Krauss, 1985, pp. 67-82). Nevertheless, Benjamin (1975/1987, p. 220) stresses the fact that art had moved from an authentic and spiritual ritual, to interfere with a quite other practice; politics. His (1975) concept of reproduction, also therefore touches a hot issue; the origin of the art works versus originality. Krauss (1985) argue that the origin of the art works becomes an integral part of discussing and thinking about originality. Heidegger (1935, p. 9) explains that the process of thinking about art is a circular movement beyond our logical comprehension. On one hand; if we question the origin of the art works we simultaneously question the originality of the artist and so on, on the other hand; more positively framed; if we recognize the masterpiece, we greatly exalt the Avant-garde originality, which contributes to understanding the nature of art. An extract from Heidegger's philosophical works, on the origin of art, elaborates on the relationships between the Avant-garde and their masterpieces, and art itself (1935/1971). It is presented in the following paragraph:
Origin here means that from and by which something is what it is and as it is. What something is, as it is, we call its essence or nature. The origin of something is the source of its nature. The question concerning the origin of the work of art asks about the source of its nature. On the usual view, the work arises out of and by means of the activity of the artist. But by what and whence is the artist what he is? By the work; for to say that the work does credit to the master means that it is the work that first lets the artist emerge as a master of his art. The artist is the origin of the work. The work is the origin of the artist. Neither is without the other. Nevertheless, neither is the sole support of the other. In themselves and in their interrelations artist and work are each of them by virtue of a third thing which is prior to both, namely that which also gives artist and work of art their names -- art (Heidegger, 1935/1971, p. 182).
The expectations to the Avant-garde, to act upon their originality and express the very nature of art itself, is more important and questioned than ever: they have responsibilities to act out their vivid imaginary and -- create. Krauss (1985) expresses what the Avant-garde originality really is all about: "More than a rejection or dissolution of the past, I perceive avantgarde-originality, a beginning from point zero, a birth" (Krauss, 1985, p. 83). This essence and originality is now being questioned. Is it possible to achieve such a new birth -- a phoenix -- in the age of reproduction? More philosophically phrased; what is real art and equally as important to reflect upon; what is real research? These are questions that contemporary thinkers inspired by institutional theory should problematize. And, rather than asking; what real art, real research and real institutional theory is, what can it become? Marcel Duchamp discussed the first question: what can art become? Simultaneously his works playfully questions our institutions, and can be used as an example to scrutinize the foundations of the institutional theory of art. He questions our institutions, not just art as an institution, but also other institutions, such as e.g. our measures in 3 Standard Stoppages (Duchamp, 1913-14). This brief essay, thus, questions what real methodology and research is and what it can evolve into -- it's becoming. Nevertheless; all these reflections started rolling and rumbling because of one magnificent and cleverly thoughtful piece of art; the Fountain (Duchamp, 1917). This has inspired the author to invite fiction into the field of methodology and research (see; "Intention & method: A systemic Approach"). While I lean on fiction to enlighten and strengthen core arguments in this brief essay, in a move from modern art to the foundations of the contemporary institutionalized art world. I have create four levels of fiction in this brief essay to strenghten my arguments: three metaphors; the Cathedral, the phoenix and the human body itself (the living creature); the subjective dramatization; the fictional stories on art in the institutional art world expressed by social characters or social roles of the art world, that are not created by the artist himself or herself, and at last; the Fountain (Duchamp, 1917). The Fountain is not real art, since it is a replica, but nonetheless, tells a fictional story of Duchamp's masterpiece.
To support Duchamp and further enhance my skepticism and frustrations with the notion of art as an institution; the Fountain (Duchamp, 1917), was refused to be exhibited (as mentioned), and the original work of art is lost! How Duchamp would react to a copy or replica of his original art work being exhibited, would only result in uncertain or dubious speculations. Nevertheless; Duchamp told Schwartz, that he hoped that the proposed; Fountain (1917), had escaped 'from conformity', that 'demanded art to be hung on the wall or presented on easels' (Duchamp; Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999d, p. 151). By art historians and critics, the Fountain (Duchamp, 1917), is regarded as a 20th century major landmark of art. It made us pose one simple questions: what is art? When this question is discussed in context of the institutionalizm of art, this simple question matters, and it suddenly became overwhelmingly intrusive to me. Although I was mesmerized by the beauty of this "Cathedral", I could not leave my skepticism by the grand entrance. Though, my skepticism is real, I still have great respect for genuine artists, whether their art exists within the institutionalized art world or at the streets. Genuine artists gives me chills, in a good way: they make me pose questions. They make me think. They make me feel. Exactly that's what happened. There is something brooding in me: something is about to change and I think I am not the only one exploring the potential of this change of gravity: the center of gravity for innovation within the art world is changing, and it is on the stage of the streets the future of groundbreaking new artistic expressions will manifest itself. Nevertheless, I think in most Londoner's mindsets and hearts; "The Cathedral of Modern Art", has a particular meaning, function, status and position among the other major flagships of institutions within the art world, as being sort of a holy place; not to mess with. Though; being "A Cathedral of Modern Art", is not necessarily the same as being "innovative"; and surely not the same as being "contemporary". Even though; Tate is highly innovative within its historical scope. This "Cathedral of Modern Art", has left us key works within our visual culture, contributed to empower the artists, and shaped the nature of art as an institution. These artists have inspired our mindsets tirelessly and they have questioned the very existence of the gallery as an institution! Now; it is my turn to enhance this skepticism. Art should not be displayed within institutions it should be "out there": As a "break" in the lush, crowded and noisy street; coloring the subway tunnel; lighten up an alley or enrich the walls by a cool canal; under a bridge; among the trees in a city park or at the silos by the windy harbor. Art should be free for everyone to exhibit or explore. Art should be displayed where people live their everyday; whether it's in the cities or at more rural places: Art should not belong to "Cathedrals"! Art should not be hidden away in some storage!
Seriously; "Ingrid"? You are about to have a "heatstroke"! As I was lining up in a que at the South Banks to even reach the grand entrance: I guess 17th of July 2016; on a hot Sunday at late lunch time; in the peak of the holiday season in London; wasn't the right day or mental state to encounter a Cathedral of Modern Art! I met my company, excused myself, and headed home for the roof terrace and; decided to return a couple of days later; to restore my mental state.
20th of July 2016: most institutions within the art world will do their outermost to enhance the potential of arising artists; such as Tate. Tate Modern has truly embarked upon nurturing the very existence of emerging innovative modern art: it is unique! This Cathedral has an important and socially including potential to open up the possibilities for a spiritual moment with modern art. Maybe it is my own "outdated" notion of an art institution as sort of a "spatial container" that constrains the art world, which still troubles my visual imaginary. But, the fact is that institutions can act as endogenous (open) frameworks; in the way they have a capacity to evolve belief systems; through institutional reforms and change, just as well as they may act exogenous (closed) frameworks; with binding rules which constrains the individual artist (Brousseau et al., 2011, p. 4). Though; artists might fight back against this resistance with magnificent utterances, their most forceful creativity and their genuinely sobering originality! This makes me question: what are the next rules to be broken by the Avant-gardes? Which protest has not yet stunned and paralyzed the contemporary art world? Whom are the next aspiring artists to shake the pillars of this solid Cathedral? And ultimately; who is this century's next Marcel Duchamp?
As I entered Rothko's Room in Switch House, I suddenly recalled one question: what is art? Since Duchamp's productive period, there has been a shift in power within the art world: while in Marcel Duchamp's time; the power of defining the notion of art was mainly in the hands of the art institutions; with Duchamp's Fountain (1917); something has changed. This work of art represented a groundbreaking transformation of the power relations within the institutionalized art world: Marcel Duchamp made us scrutinize and question the power of art institutions. Let us not forget his spirit. The Avant-gardes of the early twentieth century, challenged the art institutions' power monopoly; with Marcel Duchamp at the barricade; as the front figure; leading the attack. A new type of power materialized itself; one which became more complex, fragmented and split among the actors in the game. In this process; Duchamp was the spearhead of inventiveness: he simply changed the rules of the game! In the nineteenth century, the art institutions was in power of defining the status of art; during the early twentieth century, radical changes in the distribution of power, transpired. With Duchamp at the tip of the spear, the Avant-gardes paved the way for a new system of influence within our institutionalized art world; with multiple actors and complex relations of influence -- the refraction of art -- in which the artists became more powerful. The core result of this refraction; is that; the power of defining art in our time, is increasingly in the hands of the artists, and the distribution of power has become more complex, fragmented and comprehensive -- new actors have entered the game. Nevertheless; while the art institutions might be more characterized by an institutional inertia; a resistance to change, the artists express a dynamic, free and autonomous change. In other ways, the art institutions may appear as stable and potential supportive and permeable actors, that also confirm socially transmitted rules, and secure artists rights: they possess a groundbreaking potential to move towards more progressive reforms and transformation and fight against stagnation and inertia. The Avant-garde are, however, agents of rapid change, that contest rules -- freedom and resistance. They favor disruptive mutations of ideas, at the expense of stability and continuance. Art as an institution is, hence, dependent on collaborative processes and stability, that ties together multiple geographical scales, and more rapid transformative forces that the artists represent -- to co-evolve as a system. Collaborative actors; such as the art institutions, and the mutant artists, therefore has to co-create, to secure the future of our visual culture. This is a process of structural refraction of power, where incumbent parts and actors of the system should re-allocate (re-arrange resources) through an re-alignment (core actors re-coordinate their resources) -- to enhance change. Re-allocation and re-alignment are terms frequently used and recognized in theory on system change; embedded in institutional theory, particularly emphasized in sociotechnical transitions (Geels, 2002, 2004). Re-allocation and re-alignment, would hopefully elude into a systemic change -- a reconfiguration of the system in itself. In this reconfiguration, aligned actors take new positions, and coordinate the distribution of resources among them differently; through new combinations of actors and resources; a new mix of actors and resources combined recharge the art world's interwoven networks. The aligned participants or authorities contribute to systemic changes of the art world's comprehensive networks, through rearrangements of the resourcess they possess -- a redistribution. Since refractions; systemic functions; and core evolutionary functions, work together in systemic changes, they are all encompassing: the art works they result in, influence and transcends into other parts of our global society. Art as an institution, is inspired by, and co-work with other societal domains, such as e.g. political, social, cultural and economic actions, utterances and behavior. It's ideas and concepts reaches into, and simultaneously tries to influence other societal domains. Pissarro (2009) argues
Kant established the radical finitude of subjectivity in the first chapter ("Transcendental Aesthetics") of his Critique of Pure Reason [from 1781] by defining sensibility (aesthetics, meaning Greek "sensibility" or "sensitivity" as the capacity to be affected by the outside world (Kant; Pissarro, 2009, p. 42).
However; as a system in itself, the art world could basically; (as mentioned), transforms from within or self-organize, through its core evolutionary functions such as; natural selection, continuance, variety and mutation. New power structures within the art world may sparks off, hence, new paths or directions, can be created. Systemic change, hence happens through (1) evolutionary functions, (2) systemic functions (re-allocation, re-alignment and re-configuration) and by (3) refractions, which makes the art world and its actors intricately co-work; and renew itself: fire and ashes, ashes and fire, and so on: a phoenix arise from its ashes! However, the artists have to reinvent themselves, through collaboration and mutations; to continuously shape new artistic actions and behavior, expressions and utterances. This is a continuous and highly complex process, in which the artists should play the key role. Of the artists who should dominate these transformative processes; the Avant-gardes are those artists who constitute and highly influence the ideas, concepts and questions, we ponder on in our society -- and thereby create art; within the social and institutional context that history allows for:
Art develops and its history is one with the transformation of the social conditions of its functioning, in relation, therefore, to the practical reconfiguration of institutional frameworks (Smolianskaïa, 2013. p. 1)
The term 'reconfiguration', as well as 're-allocation' and 're-alignment', is associated with theory on institutional system change, and says that institutional frameworks in the pace of history, will change. Art, is, thus, shaped by history. Within historical structures art forms its own history, influenced by historical incidents. Within institutional frameworks that our history allows for, these contexts are again influenced by social conditions in sum, which the artist; has to relate to, whether they contest or offer resistance to these frameworks. By the view of the human geographer; the artist defines the idea. The idea defines the 'choice' of concept, which in its nature interplay with contextual and institutional frameworks. The institutional context thereby adds to the definition or understanding of art -- art does not exist without the context -- it is institutional by nature. From the artistic creation of the idea to its contextual appearance, art is therefore highly geographical. An definition of art should therefore include the artistic creation of the idea, and the artists 'choice', plus its contextual and institutional framework. In a radio interview at BBC in 1956, Duchamp himself, thus, ponders on the relation between the rendezvous of 'the readymade as a work of art', and his denial of the possibility of defining 'art' (Duchamp, 1956; Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999d, p. 151 and 155):
That is the very difficult point, because art first has to be defined. Alright, can we try to define art? We have tried and in every century there is a new definition of art. Meaning that there is no essential, no one essential, that is good for all centuries. So if we accept the idea of trying not to define art, which is a very legitimate conception, the the readymade can be seen as sort of irony, because its says here it is, a thing that I call art, I didn't make it myself. As we know art etymologically speaking means 'make', 'handmade', and there instead of making, I take it readymade. So it was a form of denying the possibility of defining art (Duchamp, 1956; Ades, Cox and Hopkins, 1999d, p. 151).
Trying to define art is therefore a highly complex task, which the author does not take easily. Nonetheless, an attempt of trying to define ART may start out with the Avant-garde's idea and 'choice', and their ideas and choice interact with different contexts and institutional frameworks, which again interplay with the (fictional) story of art (created by different social roles and characters in the Institutional art world); and how art is understood in our society through historical incidents. What is art? is therefore defined by the artistic creation of the idea and their choices, its contextual and institutional characteristics, the fictional story of art, in which the artistic creation of the idea should dominate or define the understanding of art; throughout the terms of history. Though, artists may also choose to exist outside the institutional framework, but this is also part of the institutional setup. They work as a control function to criticize the system; such as the art institutional world, in itself. The characteristics of the institutional framework, gain inspiration from the outsiders as an counteraction, and in form of -- resistance. Without this refreshing and new thinking resistance, the art world; as a system, would flip into crisis -- caused by stagnation and inertia. Embodied in the nature of the institutional art world, those who are outside the institutional framework; lonely swallows, are also embodied in its natural characteristics of 'art as an institution'. The art world or art as an institution is characterized by being fueled by its outsiders, they hence, becomes vital communicative force of the institutional art world. However, according to Heidegger (1935/1971) and the institutional theory on art (Carroll, 1999), the artist becomes an artist, when their art works are recognized -- the artist does not supremely define what art is, it is also defined as an interplay or tug of war between three core actors; the Avant-garde, the capitalist and the art institutions. This tug of war was sparked off by Duchamp's stunt; the Fountain (Duchamp, 1917). Although the copy of the Fountain (Duchamp, 1917) is placed in Tate Gallery of Modern Art, it is, thus, not a real art work, since it is a copy. Since it is a copy or a replica from 1964; of the original lost work from 1917, it is a representation of the art work -- a fictional story of the Avant-gardiste Duchamp's art work (tate.org, 2018). The Avant-gardes, such as Duchamp, nonetheless, represents our forefront when it comes to developing highly experimental, progressive and radical ideas, in our global society. We should listen to them! To assume that everything is art is, however, a definition to wide to be functional, applicable or of any use. We should rather assume that the art world possess different ideas and choices, shaped by contexts and Institutional setups, fictional stories and social roles that, altogether, define what art is, placed in a greater context; history, in which the Avant-gardes are the first movers. It is, thus; all the faceted stories, of all the characters who engage in the art world, that in addition to its artistic creation of ideas, and the artworks' contexts, that complete the story of art, or how art is understood in our institutionalized art world -- and throughout the pace of history. In this process the Avant-garde plays a crucial role: they possess power and authority in the art world as a system. Pioneering artists, also have the ability to put us into an inspirational innovative, and sobering state of mind. Whether it's Duchamp (1887-1968), Rothko (1903-1970) or Banksy (1974-): great artists also make us pose questions that matters to our existence, and they even might make us rethink our existence. In a silent moment with Rothko's paintings I encountered myself and had my own personal experience in The Cathedral of Modern Art. I posed my own personal questions on the state of modern art and contemporary art; I quietly tried to rethink my existence; restore my mental state; and regain my sense; (with a little help from Rothko).
The art world is one of ours most compound, carefully and entangled; intertwined systems or networks: whether you are facing modern art in; a "Cathedral"; working at MoMA (NYC); exhibiting your own art work in an independent contemporary art gallery; are having your heartfelt moment being exposed to street art or are covering walls, windows and doors with your tags; -- whether you are in the middle of your performance; learning to paint for the very first time; are lecturing in renaissance sculpture at a university; are about to become an influential contemporary art curator; are a writing art critic; or if you are just being generally skeptical: no worries. We are all part of the same system; wholeness and ONE art scene or society. This system is powerful! The notion of power as unevenly distributed, however, implies that there are social roles that ought to have influence, whom are not taken into account. Since power and influence, are attributes that are unevenly distributed socially and culturally, politically and economically, as well as geographically, there are stories yet unwritten and characters not fully elaborated, to make a full account of the status and story of art. The notion of the society as a creature that develops through evolution, thus, argues that shifts in power and influence might occur (Rigby and Essletzbitchler, 2010). This is promising! There are, however, still uneven distributions of power in the institutionalized art world, that causes elitism, inequality and discrimination: it is not fully democratic! This implies that there are opinions, thoughts, feelings and ideas of those in lesser powerful social, political, cultural and economic roles, or in the art world's power periphery, that should be given a voice. Massey's views on places is, however, more optimistic and nuanced. She eloquently argues how places can be understood as progressive sites of power geometries (Massey, 1993). This concept implies that the local and the global are interconnected in the institutional art world, which simultaneously allows for cultural difference and cultural uniqueness, to exist side by side and flourish: global inequalities can be reduced, and in some instances be overcome (Massey, 2009; MacEwan and Daya, 2012, p. 278). This also implies to inequalities in access to power and influence in the institutional art world. Carroll (1999), thus, claims that the institutionalized art world's reputation as being anti-democratic, discriminating, inequal and elitist, is unfair (p. 230). Nontheless, he points out that not anyone can or should act on the behalf of the art world. Carroll (1999) argue:
Democracy doesn't require that everyone be empowered to do just anything -- not just anyone can walk into a hospital and perform brain surgery. Similarly, not just anyone can act on the behalf of the artworld. On the other hand, the artworld, according to Institutional Theory of Art, is an equal-opportunity employer, since anyone, in principle, should be able to become an agent of the artworld by acquiring the relevant sort of knowledge, understanding, and the right sort of experience (Carroll, 1999, p. 230).
Those who becomes an agent of the art world, should all be acquainted with Duchamp's art works. Duchamp curiously opened Pandora's Box of power and influence in the institutional art world. He was an archetype of inventiveness and a prime example of artistic autonomy, a mutant and a pure -- phoenix of resistance! Duchamp stubbornly paved the way for new tricks in the institutional art world! The institutional theory of art, evolutionary theory and system theory, thus, offers an opulent ocean of inspiration on how to understand the nature of art. The nature of art asks about its origin, the creator's originality, those who define its status, and its contextual appearance. The status of defining; what is and what is not art; in the art world, is closely tied to the institutional attributes of power and authority, as well as how inequality and elitism, affects these attributes. However, the Avant-garde and their new frontiers, also have to fight against institutional systemic inertia: it is a cumbersome process to transform an entire system; such as the art world. Nonetheless, the view of the institutional art world; as a social system going through phases of refractions, systemic functions and natural selection to renew itself, makes this system the most complex forms of human innovations: in this social system the flux of influence on the organism goes multiple ways. In one way; art is simply mirroring this system's diverse "sum" of innovations and its institutional contexts. All layers of innovations, institutional rules and evolutionary functions, results in diverse, complex and sometimes experimental artistic expressions. The evolution of art as an institution, discussed in this brief essay, combines elements from both institutional theory of art and evolutionary theory, to highlight processes of transformation, adaption and change; in the art world as a system, hence, it is also rooted in theory on system change. The artistic expressions created to promote transformation, adaption and change; in the institutional art world are, thus, more meaningful and powerful than the diverse sum of the capitalist commodifying processes, which the art world reluctantly has to play along with. As dehumanizing these processes might seem, the artists do not survive on grants and scholarships only. Taken together; inequality, anti-democratic behavior and discrimination, elitism, imperialism, as well as commodifying processes, and dehumanization grouped, is thus, an integral and highly complex paradox of 'art as an institution'; in which art as an institution, at times, becomes an instrument of hidden or obvious powers in our society. This is a paradox the Avant-garde, the capitalists and all art institutions, has to confront. The art institutions are, thus, fundamental in shaping the conditions of the art world, protecting artists rights, and the heritage of our visual culture, or simply the art world's continuance. The Avant-garde artists are, however, in a even more powerful and unique position; to form the premise for innovation and autonomous change within our institutionalized art world and; in our global society. In London's continuously evolving hotbed of dawning and emerging milieu of Avant-gardes; and by the rules of this complex and unpredictable system; an old trick might work just as well as a new! Would you like to explore some new tricks? Take a stroll down into The Tanks of the Cathedral or become an ephemeral flâneur in the streets of Shoreditch in London for a week or two. And finally; enter Duchamp's room in the heart of the Cathedral; shed your inner thoughts and feelings; while you make a deep dive into Duchamp's artistical world. Then you might make a new acquaintance, and get to explore an uncompromising, inventive and experimental, progressive, individual and autonomeous art, fueled by resistance, authenticity and artistic power. Artistic power; introduced and thoughtfully created by an Avant-gardiste, that blasted the institutional limits of -- what ART can be. Let's not mess about.
That's the spirit Marcel Duchamp; no pressure contemporary Avant-gardes!
Copyright ©. All rights reserved IART Ingrid Katrine Amundsen, 2007-2019. (Do not reprint without permission).
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