Journée d’étude : “Art as Commodities/Commodities as Art”.

Edwaert Collier, Nature morte, 1662, huile sur toile, 166.1 x 137.2 cm.

Type : journée d’étude.
Date de l’événement : 14 juin 2019.
Lieu : University of York, Treehouse, Berrick Saul Building.

When art makes the headlines, it is usually about money. In 2017, Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi sold for over $450 million at Christie’s New York. Just how can a painting be worth more than a penthouse on Fifth Avenue?

A propensity for truck, barter and exchange is one of visual art’s defining characteristics. This conference will explore the conceptual interrelationships between art and commodities, encompassing a range of media from paintings to artefacts. Papers are invited from across historical periods and geographic regions.

Are artworks ‘commodities through and through,’ or are they economically exceptional? The brand equity of a Picasso or Fabergé, compounded with their provenance or “social life,” suggests so. As desirable objects, artworks are often meta-desirable. The Paston Treasure is a mirror of luxury that was itself luxurious to own. Mundane objects, meanwhile, have a history of aesthetic transfiguration, especially materials of the craft. Did artists possess a kind of Midas touch?

This conference will demonstrate the centrality of markets to art’s modern cultural ascendancy, while also recasting art objects as bodies of knowledge and vehicles of cultural exchange through networks of global trade.

Co-organised by Adam Sammut (University of York), Simon Spier (University of Leeds) and Apurba Chatterjee (University of Sheffield).

Register through Eventbrite by 3 June. Student bursaries available: apply to with a brief statement of purpose.


Isabella Lores-Chavez, Columbia University. To Have and Behold: Pieter Claesz and the Plaster Collectible.

Rachel Masters Carlisle, Florida State University. From Florence to Flanders. Michelangelo’s Bruges Madonna as an Object of Conspicuous Consumption.

Dr Marianne Eekhout, Dordrechts Museum. Priceless. The Power of Memory and the Art Market in the Low Countries.

Rory McInnes-Gibbons, Durham University. The Ruins of Palmyra. A Harbinger of Taste and Value at the Origin of Neo-Classicism.

Katharine Ault, The Open University. Private Ownership, Public Display and Commodification. Ugolino di Nerio’s Santa Croce Polyptych in Nineteenth-Century Britain.

Lucy West, University of Leeds/The National Gallery/Bowes Museum. Priceless. Oettingen-Wallerstein and the Unsaleable Collection, 1847-1863.

Mariko Hirabayashi, University of York. The Japonism Market in Later Nineteenth-Century London. The Japanese Gallery, Watanabe Seitei and John Varley Jr.

Maria Golovteeva, University of St Andrews/Christie’s. Commodifying Congo in late-nineteenth-century Belgium. Ivory in Art and Writings of Fernand Khnopff.

Dr. Tom Wilkinson, Warburg Institute. Making Money. Artists’ Banknotes of the German Inflation, 1914-1923.

Inbal Strauss, University of Oxford. The “Products” of Artistic Production. Thinking about Art in Design Terms.

KEYNOTE: Dr Leah R. Clark, The Open University. Between Commodity and Gift: Some Thoughts on Early Modern Objects.