Art is not just about artists and artworks. This is the most important insight from a sociological approach to art.1 Artists are embedded in a social context, an ‘art world’ (Becker, 1982) or ‘artistic field’ (Bourdieu, 1993) that is situated in the wider society. Art objects are also embedded in a social context. Society and art worlds influence artists, in myriad ways, as they produce art. Distribution systems affect the size and type of audience for artists and their work. And audiences view and appreciate art in ways that are shaped much more by their aesthetic orientation — and notably, the social factors that underpin it — than by an artist’s vision as reflected in a particular piece. Art is noticed, preserved, reviled, and remembered or forgotten by viewers who explicitly, or more often implicitly, refer to contemporary standards.
KeywordsEurope Income Salon
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