Art as Commodities/Commodities as Art

Since the advent of modern capitalism, artworks have had built into them a propensity for truck, barter and exchange. This conference explores the conceptual interrelationships between artworks and commodities, demonstrating the centrality of markets to art’s cultural ascendancy. It will cover a range of media from paintings to decorative art and artefacts, together with a broad chronology and a global geographic span. Themes will include artistic labour versus material value, artworks’ provenance or “social life”, world trade and cultural exchange, and paintings as meta-commodities, e.g. still life.

Taking place in the Treehouse, Berrick Saul Building, University of York, the conference will comprise ten papers divided into five panels. Dr Leah Clark at the Open University will give a keynote on art and diplomacy in the Italian Renaissance (t.b.c.), followed by a wine reception.

Organised across the White Rose, this postgraduate conference brings together young scholars from the UK and abroad working in a burgeoning field. Hosted by the Dept. of History of Art at the University of York, it marks a collaboration with the Centre for the Study of the Art and Antiques Market at the University of Leeds. The conference will showcase a range of interdisciplinary approaches to art history, bringing in economics, anthropology, technical art history and much else. The aim is to ultimately produce a publication under the Knowledge Exchange Project scheme.

Part-funded by the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at York, with a panel on trade and modern European empires organised from Sheffield’s Dept. of History, the conference will reach a White Rose-wide audience. Bursaries covering travel and admission will be made available to PhD students at York, Leeds and Sheffield.


£ 3250

Lead Student

Adam Sammut, Department of History of Art, University of York

Other student organisers

Simon Spier, University of Leeds Apurba Chatterjee, University of Sheffield