Groups, experts and innovation : the selection system of modern visual art
Valuation of cultural products is problematic. Nevertheless valuation takes place and resource flows are channeled accordingly. In this paper, we provide insight into how valuation of cultural products takes place by describing the essential characteristics of the competitive process and the resulting distribution of resources in terms of different types of selection systems. The selection system specifies the essential characteristics of the actors who are in competition with each other, the VHOHFWHG, and the actors whose decisions will determine the outcome of the process, the VHOHFWRUV, as well as the relations between the selectors and selected. Three ideal types of selection systems are distinguished: market selection, peer selection and expert selection. We show that a group of painters, known as the Impressionists, changed the selection system of the visual arts industry from one dominated by peer selection into one dominated by expert selection by acting and presenting themselves as a group. In doing so, they managed to change fundamentally the nature of the competitive process in the visual arts industry. In the new selection system, innovativeness has become the most highly prized product characteristic, while experts - as reviewers of works of art, as consultants to dealers, or as museum curators - play an essential role, certifying the innovativeness of individual artists and groups of artists.
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