S-Space College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학) Institute for Social Development and Policy Research (사회발전연구소) Development and Society Development and Society Vol.38 No.1/2 (2009)
Diversification and Status Signals in the Art World and the Art Markets : A Case of the Fine Art Photography Galleries of New York
- Park, Chan-Ung
- Issue Date
- Institute for Social Development and Policy Research, Center for Social Sciences, Seoul National University
- Development and Society, Vol.38 No.1, pp. 91-12
- Recent studies of the art markets and the art world show the importance of genres, status and identity of organizations such that these can be conceptualized in organizational studies as the issue of niches and status. Organizational studies, however, have not examined cultural organizations like art galleries despite the relevance of niches, status and identity of such organizations. In this study, I focus on fine art photography in New York’s fine art galleries to examine how diversification of genres (e.g., photography, painting or sculpture) as the status and niches of these galleries interact with each other in the context of collective mobility of the photography genres. The resource-partitioning theory demonstrates that the degree of market concentration differently affects the survival chance of generalists and specialists. The status-based theory adds that a high-status organization would be constrained to enter low-status market domains to avoid lowering its status. Combining both theories, status and niche width would influence organizations’ survival and consequent distribution of organizations across niches. In this analysis, I show that there is a higher degree of cross-pollination of photography with specific genres such as paintings or sculptures than with other genres, and I discuss several factors on cross-pollination. They collectively enhance the status of fine art photography within the contemporary art world, the interests of collectors from other contemporary art genres, the multi-medium orientation of contemporary artists, and the rise of photography art auctions and art fairs is a new type of markets for photography. At the organizational level, a gallery’s status as measured by critical attention of key critics has a U-shaped correlation with its niche width or genre diversification. Based on such correlation, I propose a “status spill-over” as opposed to “status leak” argument, in which high-status organizations selectively enter a low-status niche in the process of collective upward mobility of such niche.
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