Capital Culture

Capital Culture: A Reader on Modernist Legacies, State Institutions, and the Value(s) of Art

Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 286
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Capital Culture
    Book Description:

    The twelve essays in the collection address cultural theory, aesthetics, and policy issues related to the economics of art in the context of globalization and the spreading influence of the practices and ideologies of market culture. With particular reference to Canada, they question whether these shifts and the rise of new media technologies are endangering or enriching public participation, democratic negotiation, and cultural diversity. The book includes essays by John Fekete on Innis and censorship, Thierry de Duve on global markets, Nicole Debreuil on the Voice of Fire controversy, and Mark Cheetham on Alex Colville and Andy Patton. It also includes specifically commissioned artworks by leading Canadian artists such as Vera Frenkel and Cheryl Sourkes.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6717-7
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Where Was I/See the Sights
    (pp. xv-xviii)
    John Marriott
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)
    Shelley Hornstein and Jody Berland

    As culture becomes increasingly vulnerable to policy, fiscal, technological, and institutional changes in Canadian society, the task of understanding these changing social contexts becomes increasingly foregrounded for scholars and critics who think about “culture.” We can no longer assume we draw on the same meanings, assumptions, or values when we use this word. Many communities in many countries are finding that what they have traditionally defined as cultural value is shifting, often so rapidly that public participation, democratic negotiation, and cultural egalitarianism are all in different ways endangered rather than enriched by the changes. Those who seek to define coherent...

  7. Thoughts to Begin
    • Nationalism and the Modernist Legacy: Dialogues with Innis
      (pp. 14-38)
      Jody Berland

      The self-conscious postmodernization of academic and political life in national communities has catalysed a widespread investigation of the cultures of nationhood. These investigations derive from widely and diversely transformed concepts of culture and an unprecedented interest in place. Culture and place demand our attention not because our concepts of them are definite or authoritative but because they are fragile and fraught with dispute. In scholarship culture and place evoke passionate debates, and in the everydayness of social and political life they confuse us utterly. In this commotion attitudes toward historical formations like nationalism and modernism are inevitably altered. History beckons,...

    • Intersection
      (pp. 39-42)
      Ron Wakkary
  8. Aesthetics and Politics in the Age of Global Markets
    • Monopolies of Censorship: A Postmodern Footnote to Innis
      (pp. 44-59)
      John Fekete

      The hundredth anniversary of the birth of Harold Innis is celebrated in 1994 as a noteworthy occasion in Canada. Innis was surely one of the seminal Canadian thinkers, and not only in political economy where his work on staples began but also in the field of cultural history and theory where his inquiries on the technological staple economy of communications led him. Canada has a second Group of Seven, a collection of distinguished thinkers that includes, in addition to Innis, Marshall McLuhan, George Grant, Eric Havelock, Charles Cochrane, C.B. MacPherson, and Northrop Frye. Only Havelock is still alive, and only...

    • On Postmodernism, Ethics, and Aesthetics in the Age of Global Markets
      (pp. 60-64)
      Thierry de Duve

      I would like to offer a few remarks in reaction to some of the assumptions contained in the introduction to the workshop Postmodernism, Ethics, and Aesthetics in the Age of Global Markets.¹ Therein I read: “Traditionally, aesthetics and ethics have looked for universal values as the justification and foundation of aesthetic and ethical judgment. Postmodernism arises from the conditions in which aesthetic and ethical values are local and plural rather than universal and essential.” This statement, in my opinion, contains some truth and a lot of misunderstandings.

      Such a link between ethics and aesthetics around the issue of universality is...

    • The Old Age of Art and Money
      (pp. 65-70)
      Paul Mattick Jr

      Art and money have both made appearances in many types of society other than capitalism, the one that has given them their currently definitive forms. Or rather, phenomena involving features of the practices now called art and money are to be found in various modes of social life, though without other features essential to their roles in that in which we live. Classical writers already railed at the corruption engendered by the love of money, including its deleterious effects on poetry. Yet until the last few hundred years money was not a true universal equivalent in commodity exchange (since labourpower...

    • Art Money Madness: With Origins in Mind
      (pp. 71-80)
      Cheryl Sourkes
  9. Marketing Culture and the Policies of Value
    • Ideas without Work/Work without Ideas: Reflections on Work, Value and the Volk
      (pp. 82-96)
      Bruce Barber

      In hisBias of CommunicationHarold Innis quotes the early French economist Riqueti, Compte de Mirabeau (1749–81), who wrote: “The two greatest inventions of the human mind are writing and money – the common language of intelligence, and the common language of self-interest.”¹

      This privileging, in Mirabeau, and as we shall see, in Innis, of the inventions of the mind as distinct from the articulations of the body, provoked me to reflect upon a similar elision in the title of this conference, “Art and Money: What Is It Worth?” The absent element, neglected by philosophers and economists both, iswork....

    • The Cost of the Sublime: The Voice of Fire Controversy
      (pp. 97-115)
      Nicole Dubreuil

      The remarks that follow were triggered by my experience on a panel of “experts” chosen to discussVoice of Fire,the controversial Barnett Newman painting (figure 6) bought by the National Gallery of Canada. Held in the fall of 1990,¹ about one year after the infamous purchase that made the headlines and unexpectedly got a whole country thinking and talking about contemporary art,² the event was called “Other Voices.” It must have somehow been intended to add a serious note to a debate that had, more often than not, at least from an academic point of view, sent out frivolous...

    • Colville and Patton: Two Paradigms of Value
      (pp. 116-121)
      Mark A. Cheetham

      To help think through issues of art and money, let us consider briefly recent work by two artists whose artistic and entrepreneurial interactions with their ideal publics are very different: Alex Colville and Andy Patton. I want to suggest that their respective attitudes about this public and its ability to buy art very much configure the sorts of work they do. I’d also like to entertain the idea that these attitudes are only in part personal or volitional; for Patton, Colville, and the rest of us, what we might deem “institutional” forces and expectations in part shape the attitudes that...

    • “Whiffs of Balsam, Pine, and Spruce”: Art Museums and the Production of a Canadian Aesthetic
      (pp. 122-137)
      Anne Whitelaw

      Culture has long been the pivotal point around which the contestation of national identity has occurred in Canada. Poised between two major political and cultural powers, politicians and members of the cultural elite have attempted since Confederation to stem perceived encroachments on the nation’s autonomy by controlling the import of cultural goods, and by subsidizing local production.³ As the legislators see it, a strong centralized support of Canadian culture remains the foremost tool in the construction of a Canadian national identity: a tool which has proven useful historically in bringing together the remote regions of the Canadian political landscape, but...

    • Please deposit fifty cents and take card from slot below
      (pp. 138-140)
      Michael Buckland
  10. Culture and the State
    • Policying Culture: Canada, State Rationality, and the Governmentalization of Communication
      (pp. 142-151)
      Michael Dorland

      One of Harold Innis’s most profound insights into the nature of Canadian cultural development appears in the 1947 text “The Church in Canada:” “Students of cultural development in Canada have failed to realize the extent to which religion in English-speaking Canada has been influenced indirectly by the traditions of the Gallican Church. Nor do we appreciate the significance of the political background of the France of Colbert and Louis XIV. State and Church under an absolute monarchy in France was state and church under an absolute monarchy in New France.”²

      Innis is writing in his usual bivariate obscurity; thus, his...

    • Le trésor de la langue: Visual Arts and State Policy in Québec
      (pp. 152-162)
      Johanne Lamoureux

      I would like to draw your attention to an ironic twist of my presentation on the theme of money and art.¹ I choose to inscribe the economic dimension of my text within the field of linguistics, for the Saussurean coloration of the formula² offers a perfect and concise metaphor. It encompasses both a concern with the accumulation of riches (it plays on the “thesaurus”) and the site of my current research on the hegemony of language in the fashioning of Québec discourse(s) of identity and its impact on the production and reception of the visual arts.

      The title of this...

    • Speculation (Blue Chip, Red Dot)
      (pp. 163-166)
      Janice Gurney
  11. Technology, Globalization, and Cultural Identity
    • Learning the New Information Order
      (pp. 168-176)
      Janine Marchessault

      New communications media and particularly technologies of information transmission and retrieval such as the merging of televisions, telephones, and computers are redefining the countenance of knowledge and entertainment. Central concerns regarding new telephonic media are access and participation or in the liberal democratic rendition, equality and freedom. In North America, the economic development and political deregulation of new media technologies are being framed by the liberal ideal of global community. Such an ideal, frequently evoked by governments to justify policy decisions, seems driven more by multinatioanl capital than by hopes for transcultural understanding.

      Indeed, the conflation of democracy and industry...

    • This Is Your Messiah Speaking
      (pp. 177-199)
      Vera Frenkel
    • The Crisis of Naming in Canadian Film Studies
      (pp. 200-216)
      Brenda Longfellow

      Canadian film studies (and for reasons of space and clarity, I address only the English Canadian variant) from its inception up to very recently,¹ has been forged around certain common assumptions concerning cultural identity and national cinema, particularly the notion that the former precedes and produces the latter. This assumption is perhaps most concisely articulated by Robert Fothergill in his much-quoted (1972) article, “Coward, Bully or Clown: The Dream Life of a Younger Brother”: “If elements of a distinct consciousness (English or French) have indeed been engendered by the emotional and historical experience of being Canadian, then the imagination of...

  12. Thoughts to Close
    • The Shape of Time and the Value of Art
      (pp. 218-232)
      Shelley Hornstein

      TheAntiques Roadshowis an engaging television series produced for the BBC that evaluates, with the assistance of antiques experts from major international auction houses, items purchased at auction for a fraction of their current market worth. Or, the experts will evaluate an object unearthed from a forgotten corner of the attic of a recently deceased great aunt, and more often than not, it unfolds that the piece featured is not a worthless piece of furniture or curio but actually a rare example of a Chippendale sideboard or the work of an artist no scholar had previously recognized as worthy...

    • Certified Art Ad Series by Johnny Vee
      (pp. 233-237)
      John Velveeta
  13. Contributors
    (pp. 238-244)
  14. Three Works
    (pp. 245-248)
    Luke A. Murphy
  15. Index
    (pp. 249-252)
  16. ... it’s still privileged art
    (pp. 253-266)
    Carole Conde and Karl Beveridge
  17. Intersection
    (pp. 267-268)