Larissa Buchholz

Junior Thyssen Fellow
Period of Stay: 
October 2020 - June 2021
Communications and Sociology
Northwestern University, the USA
Project Title: 
Dynamics of Valuation in a Cultural World Economy
Project Abstract: 

My research engages with the dynamics of valuation and the making (or unmaking) of cultural hierarchies within a global context. The fellowship project grows out of my first book, The Global Rules of Art, which examines the emergence of a global field in the visual arts and the different ways artists become valued worldwide. In my subsequent research, I’ve expanded my interest in valorization by turning from the perspective of mediation to art consumption. Although social scientists have been increasingly interested in the contemporary art market, existing research has largely ignored the growth of art collectors outside traditional market centers in the US and Western Europe. My project, which draws from fieldwork in the Middle East and China, moves beyond this prevailing West-centric focus and explores how elites from rising world economies become invested in contemporary art to the extent that they spend substantial sums, even millions, on it. The study also advances a new theoretical model concerning how elite cultural preferences and practices form at the intersection of national and global field levels, where they can take on different meanings and valences. My project thus redresses a considerable gap in the current scholarship and contributes to a more multidirectional understanding of the dynamics that remake a major cultural market in an era of globalization.