Accepted paper:

Modes of Marketing and Commercialisation in Contemporary Tibetan Art


Regina Hoefer (Bonn University)

Paper short abstract:

The lecture analyses how contemporary Tibetan art is marketed and which aspects constitute its success or failure. Examples of galleries and artists come from China, Tibet and the Western diaspora.

Paper long abstract:

During the last few years contemporary Tibetan Art established on an international level and positioned itself within the global art discourse. This is mainly due to the exiled Tibetan artists living all over the world. Most of their work is figurative and follows traditional cultural and religious iconographies and pictorial conventions, i.e. Tibetan artists "translate" their own tradition into a "moderate" modern formal language. For example Tibetan artist and Swiss resident Sonam Dolma, however, works abstractly and rejects ethnic elements. She perceives herself in the tradition of abstract expressionism and emphasizes her role as a modern universal artist, not as an exotic painter-Tibetan. Similar to her role model Mark Rothko her oeuvre features spiritual dimensions. She is very much influenced by the Buddhist concept of emptiness (Shunyata), which is embodied in the famous key sentence "Form is Emptiness; Emptiness is Form" of one of the most important Buddhist scriptures. Is it for the "Un-Tibetaness" of her work that she is rarely exhibited and less successful on the art market? How is the "Buddhist appeal" of her work received? Other examples come from galleries in Beijing. How is Contemporary Tibetan art marketed there?

panel P19
Anthropology in the contemporary artworld