A Portrait of the Visual Arts

A Portrait of the Visual Arts: Meeting the Challenges of a New Era

Kevin F. McCarthy
Elizabeth H. Ondaatje
Arthur Brooks
András Szántó
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 150
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    A Portrait of the Visual Arts
    Book Description:

    The third in a series that examines the state of the arts in America, this analysis shows, in addition to lines around the block for special exhibits, well-paid superstar artists, flourishing university visual arts programs, and a global expansion of collectors, developments in the visual arts also tell a story of rapid, even seismic change, systemic imbalances, and dislocation.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4071-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xiii-xx)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    During the last 25 years, the arts world has been changing in dramatic ways. These changes have created major challenges for the arts and raised important questions about what the future holds. What are the implications of these changes and challenges for the arts in America? Our previous work addressed these issues for the performing arts and the media arts. This book focuses on the visual arts (defined below) and attempts to answer a series of questions:

    What is the state of the visual arts in America today?

    How is this picture changing?

    Why are those changes occurring?

    What might...

  9. CHAPTER TWO The Evolution of the Visual Arts System
    (pp. 9-18)

    With their origins in early cave drawing in the Neolithic era, the visual arts are in all likelihood the oldest of the arts. Every major civilization has had a visual arts tradition that reflected the broader culture from which it stemmed.¹ As those cultures have changed, so too have the purposes, styles, and organizational features of their visual arts systems. The institutions that dominate the organizational ecology of the visual arts in America today have their roots in 18th and 19th century Europe, especially France—although these institutions have evolved with a distinctive American style. These institutions are public museums...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Demand for the Visual Arts
    (pp. 19-42)

    As discussed in the last chapter, demand for the visual arts has increased dramatically over the last century as the number of consumers—both those who attend museums and those who purchase fine art—has soared and their characteristics and behavior have shifted. As we also indicated, the organizational structure and operation of both museums and the arts market have changed in conjunction with these shifts in demand. Thus, we might reasonably expect that future changes in public demand will, correspondingly, shape the organizational ecology of the visual arts in the future.

    This chapter focuses on patterns of demand for...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR Artists
    (pp. 43-60)

    In this chapter we turn from demand for the visual arts by appreciators and collectors to the artists who create the art itself. Most of the artwork displayed in museums (as well as that sold in the secondary elite arts market) has been created by artists who are no longer alive. They are not the subject of this chapter. Instead, our analysis focuses on the number, characteristics, and career paths of living artists, and on how these features of contemporary artists are changing and why. The characteristics of visual artists, both living and dead, who are no longer producing art...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE The Arts Market
    (pp. 61-74)

    The visual arts market has no direct counterpart in the other arts. Its distinction arises from the fact that original artworks can be bought, sold, and collected. The possession of original artwork is valued not just for viewing pleasure, but also for the status the artwork can convey to its owner, and for the value it assumes in the marketplace. Even though the number of buyers and collectors represents only a tiny fraction of the number of people who attend museums, the arts market and especially the changes that have occurred over the last three decades have had a profound...

  13. CHAPTER SIX Visual Arts Organizations
    (pp. 75-104)

    As we noted in Chapter Two, the organizational ecology of the visual arts has been dominated by three sets of institutions: the various commercial intermediaries that structure the operation of the arts market and thus purchasing; art museums, which dominate public appreciation of visual arts; and the world of arts discourse, which provides an ideational underpinning for the operations of the other two. In the previous chapter, we described the commercial market, how it is changing, and how those changes are affecting art purchasing and collecting. In this chapter, we turn to the nonprofit sector with a particular focus on...

  14. CHAPTER SEVEN Conclusions
    (pp. 105-116)

    We began this book by noting that the last two and a half decades have posed a growing set of challenges for the arts in America. The rapid growth of the art world that began in the 1960s has slowed and, in some cases, reversed. In addition, organizations in most disciplines have found it increasingly difficult to draw audiences, increase their revenues, and manage their resources. Many have been forced to rethink their missions and roles in an increasingly complex organizational ecology.

    In contrast, judging by record museum attendance levels and booming commercial popularity, the visual arts may be the...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 117-128)