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Wertschöpfung in der zeitgenössischen Kunst: Zur „Young German Art“
[Value-Added Activities in the Contemporary Art: The Young German Art]

Listed author(s):
  • Stahl, Sebastian

The value of an artwork depends not only on the artist, even more so on the system which is adding and increasing its value. This system contains a number of institutions which are supporting the artist and his works to become established in the market, get internationally renowned and as a consequence raise his "value". Nowadays not the paintings themselves — their subject or quality — are the most important issues for the artist's career: The biography is the determining factor: Where did the artist study? Which gallery is representing the artist? Where did the artist exhibit? Which museum shows the artist’s works? Which collectors are buying the art works? Who criticized and reviewed the artist? This framework is exogenous for an artist, and it helps very well to value the quality and the price of an artist’s work. Only by these value determining impacts within the biography of an artist, it is possible to describe and understand why art works by established and expansive artists were low-priced in the beginning of their career. This paper describes theoretically and by example the value-added activities of selected artists of the “Young German Art”. It discusses how artists, gallery owners, museums, collectors and critics act on the contemporary art market und how they influence the value of artworks and how vice versa the art market reacts back. How do the most decisive and value determining leaders in this field influence the market? How is a certain value judgment of an artist created? Today, the label “Young German Art” is commonly used to describe the new contemporary figurative painting from Germany abroad. The label “Made in Germany” has already been established both as seal of quality and a trademark for visual arts. The contemporary artists Gerhard RICHTER, Sigmar POLKE, Anselm KIEFER, Georg BASELITZ, A.R. PENCK and Joseph BEUYS were some of the personalities who contributed a big amount to that success of the following generations of the “Young German Art”. The label “Young German Art” – YGA – has its origin in its British pattern, the “Young British Art” (YBA), and was adopted by the German art market during international art fairs by German gallery owners since the mid-1990’s. During the Armory Show in New York, German gallery owners erected signs with the title “Young German Art”. After that the foreign press adopted this label and distributed it worldwide. Especially the Leipzig School respectively the New Leipzig School belongs to “Young German Art”. Since the 1990’s, this School describes figurative painting from Leipzig. It's most famous painters are amongst others Neo RAUCH, Tim EITEL und Matthias WEISCHER. Foremost Daniel RICHTER and Norbert BISKY are the flagships of the „Young German Art“. In Germany all of them are exclusively under contract to three Berlin galleries. This paper starts with a definition of art und its various kinds of value-systems: historic-cultural, aesthetic, tangible and economical. It looks at a definition and theoretical explanation of the art market and the various characteristics of market inefficiencies and market failures. Because market inefficiencies and market failures on the art market are primary initiated by information asymmetries, this paper also analyses some approaches for solutions offered by the new institutional economics und the contract theory. The main part of this paper relates to the value adding processes in the contemporary art market. It explains all relevant and determining players and institutions and their goals, in focusing on artists, galleries, art fairs, museums and other institutions. Furthermore this paper discusses the role of art collectors and art consultants and various kinds of adding value to artworks. Within this framework of theoretical analysis, five artists of the “Young German Art” are discussed in detail, on behalf of their works, their collectors, auction results and choice of the most important international art prizes.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 27983.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2009
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:27983
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  1. Michael Spence, 2002. "Signaling in Retrospect and the Informational Structure of Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 434-459, June.
  2. Merijn Rengers & Olav Velthuis, 2002. "Determinants of Prices for Contemporary Art in Dutch Galleries, 1992–1998," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 26(1), pages 1-28, February.
  3. Michael Spence, 1976. "Symposium: The Economics of Information: Informational Aspects of Market Structure: An Introduction," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(4), pages 591-597.
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