This panel revitalises an engagement with patronage through the framework of relational aesthetics. It explores contexts in which contemporary art patronage unveils, reproduces or conceals complex transnational relational networks and intimate collaborations between ethical subjects and polities.
Since 1945 the global art market has grown from 500,000 collectors to 450 million 'art consumers'. Web 2.0 platforms have been central to an exponential growth of anonymous commodity-centric transactions. And yet, intimate collaboration and privileged relations remain intrinsic to art market phenomena. In 2013, Munich police confiscated 1,406 artworks, many of which had been thought destroyed or lost. The 'Gurlitt case' throws light on complex scenarios; how did Gurlitt and the intervention of a fascist state subvert or recreate the relations inherent to the art works that he hoarded? The anthropology of art, through Bishop, Bourdieu, and Becker, has a long tradition in addressing the moral economic complexities of art markets. As Arthur Danto put it provocatively, 'to see something as art requires... an artworld'. Following Boltanski and Chiapello, recent scholarship has investigated how new management logics have appropriated a vision of the artist as a self-cultivating entrepreneur. These perspectives provide compelling understandings of how we imagine the art world today, and continue to structure the way we theorise collaboration between artists, art consumers, galleries, and the media. This panel however investigates how collaboration, intimacy and technology make visible, reproduce or even sever relations within the social life of art networks today. Therefore this panel explores how we can conceptualise art works and patronage at the intersection of the intimate and the transnational, the technologically commoditised and the personal, collaboration and disengagement.