Georgescu-Response to: From the Critique of Institutions to an Institution of Critique (article under Role of Museums section)

In  From the Critique of Institutions to an Institution of Critique Andrea Fraser explores the evolution of the critiques of art institutions and the development of today’s institution of art. The question of what constitutes art and gives it value is one that we have discussed in class and one that arises more and more with contemporary art, as it is sometimes difficult to understand why certain pieces have multi-million dollar success, while others don’t. Buren’s words cited by Fraser offer one possible explanation that is linked to the context in which art is displayed: “if the Museums makes its ‘mark’, imposes its ‘frame’…on everything that is exhibited in it, in a deep and indelible way,” it does so easily because “everything that the Museum shows is only considered and produced in view of being set in it”. Does art gain value because a Museum exhibits it and if so is this art worth anything outside the Museum setting? Of course value is so subjective and continuously changing yet one has to wonder what worth something such as a Koons Rabbit would hold if it were to be displayed in a pawnshop as opposed to in a Museum? How much of art’s value come from pure circumstance? In my opinion, a great deal of aesthetically unimpressive and ideologically uninspired works are recognized as great art because the art institution has decided their value and all those involved in the art world (buyers, curators and the Museum visiting public) dare not question this imposed value, thereby adding to it.

Fraser goes on to discuss the evolution of the institution of art by explaining that since 1969 there has been an expansion of the art world outside of the context of Museums. Art is not art simply because it is shown in a Museum, rather it is art when “it exists for discourse and practices that recognize it as art, value and evaluate it as art, and consume it as art”. This concept made me think of street art. I have recently watched Exit Through the Gift Shop, a documentary which explores the secretive careers of Banksy and other street artists. Although street art is mingled with the everyday mundane cityscape rather than displayed against stark white walls, it has gained its own place in the art world because of the discourse it has raised. Looking at street art as an example (there are other forms of art that function in the same way) is encouraging. While there is perhaps art that has value simply because it has been appropriated by a  Museum, there is also art that has gained recognition despite its removal from the sources that generally grant it.

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