Pierre Bourdieu: Photography: A Middle-brow Art (1965/1990)

7 October 2012, dusan

The everyday practice of photography by millions of amateur photographers – the family snapshots, the holiday prints, the wedding portraits – may seem to be a spontaneous and highly personal activity. But Bourdieu and his associates show that few cultural activities are more structured and systematic than the social uses of this ordinary art.

This perceptive and wide-ranging analysis of the practice of photography brings out the logic implicit in this cultural field. The norms which define the occasions and the objects of photography serve to display the socially differentiated functions of, and attitudes towards, the photographic image and act. For some social groups, photography is primarily a means of preserving the present and reproducing the euphoric moments of collective celebration, whereas for other groups it is the occasion of an aesthetic judgement, in which photos are endowed with the dignity of works of art.

With Luc Boltanski, Robert Castel, Jean-Claude Chamboredon, and Dominique Schnapper
First published in French as Un art moyen by Les Editions de Minuit, 1965
Translated by Shaun Whiteside
Publisher Polity Press, in association with Blackwell Publishers, 1990
ISBN 0745605230, 0745617158
218 pages

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Pierre Bourdieu, Hans Haacke: Free Exchange (1994/1995)

6 October 2012, dusan

How can we affirm the independence of critical artists and intellectuals when confronted by the new crusaders of Western culture, the neoconservative champions of morality and good taste, the sponsorship of multinationals and the patronage theorists who have lost all touch with reality? How can we safeguard the world of free exchange which is and must remain the world of artists, writers and scholars?

These are some of the questions discussed by the leading social thinker Pierre Bourdieu and the artist Hans Haacke in this remarkable book. Their frank and open dialogue on contemporary art and culture ranges widely, from censorship and obscenity to the social conditions of artistic creativity. Among the examples they discuss are the controversies surrounding the exhibition of photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano, the debates concerning multiculturalism and ethnic diversity, and the uses of art as a means of contesting and disrupting symbolic domination. They also explore the central themes of Hans Haacke’s work, which is used to illustrate the book.

Free Exchange is a timely intervention in current debates and a powerful analysis of the conditions and concerns of critical artists and intellectuals today.

Originally published in French as Libre-échange, Éditions de Seuil/les presses du réel, 1994
Publisher Polity Press, Cambridge, UK, in association with Blackwell Publishers, 1995
ISBN 0745615228, 0745615228
144 pages

review (Vincent Dubois, Politix, in French)

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Hans van Maanen: How to Study Art Worlds: On the Societal Functioning of Aesthetic Values (2009)

30 August 2010, dusan

“This study brings together the organisational side of the world of the arts and the understanding of the many functions art fulfills in our culture. The author sets out to establish how the organisation of art worlds serves the functioning of the arts in society. The book is divided into three sections, the first of which presents a comparative study of approaches to the art world as practiced by Dickie, Becker, Bourdieu, Heinich, and Luhmann, among others. The second part focuses on the philosophical debates concerning ‘aesthetic experience’. Besides Kant, scholars such as Gadamer, Foster, Shustermann, Schaeffer and Carroll come to the fore. In the third part, the author traces the consequences of these theoretical approaches for the organization of art world practices.”

Publisher Amsterdam University Press, 2009
Creative Commons BY-NC 3.0 License
ISBN 9089641521, 9789089641526
311 pages


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