Monday, June 25, 2012

A need for art intelligence

The evolving political economy of art suggests a need for specialized intelligence on the significance of artworks to markets, foreign relations, and security.  As one dimension of the political economy, the expansion of the art market illustrates the need. The art market has expanded in financial volume to $60 billion worldwide, by some reports, and geographically, in that, by other reports, China has surpassed the United States in expenditures on collectibles and now accounts for 30% of the global market. As emerging nations, such as Bangladesh, hold contemporary art fairs, the economic implications of art continue to develop.
Resources such as the Mei Moses Index serve as a source of intelligence on the art market, and enterprises such as Artnet have added data and analysis resources for objective assessments of the art market.  In the dimension of foreign relations, precedents for repatriation of cultural property serve as a source of intelligence for future claims, and on-line catalogs of museums, auction houses, and galleries increase the ability of “source nations” to discover lost cultural artifacts. In the third dimension, security, ICOM “Red lists” raise awareness of risks to cultural property and thereby provide a degree of deterrence from trafficking and facilitate protection from looting.
The above examples of accessible information on the markets for artworks and cultural artifacts suggest the potential to devise a specialized methodology for assessments in the political economy of the art. Specialized “art intelligence” would enable collectors to factor the politics of artworks into decisions on acquisitions, inform foreign policy with the political significance of cultural property, and facilitate interdiction of trafficking and looting of cultural artifacts.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cultural Security News (Jun. 17 - Jun. 23)

Japan's Cultural Property and the Indian Art Market
News photoSeveral stories indicated Japan as active in the politics and security of cultural property. Japan recovered four Buddhist statues that had been stolen from a temple in Konan, Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs put six cultural treasures stolen from temples in Japan on an international "wanted list," and nations such as Madagascar, Turkey and Korea are seeking returns from Japan. India made news in the market and in art crime. Indian artists are starting to see their works resell at appreciated values at auction, and an English forger who focused on works by renowned Indian artists from the past century, F.N. Souza, M.F. Husain and Sayed Haider Raza, went to jail. Meanwhile, Russian art sales made a splash in China's summer season, and wealthy collectors from Russia, China, and the Middle East contributed to booming sales in London.
For similar news, visit Cultural Security News.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Greece Battles Germany on the Pitch, in the Street

In an ironic twist of fate, the Greek national soccer team will face off against Germany on Friday in the quarterfinals of the UEFA European Championship. The match provides a symbolic culmination of Greece’s ongoing battle with Germany—the European country that has contributed the most aid toward the financial bailout of Greece—to determine their economic future and ultimate fate.
For more than two years, Greek citizens have taken to the streets to protest the austerity measures insisted on by German Chancellor Angela Merkel as part of the economic bailouts offered to Greece. Such policies—which have included major cuts to the operating budgets of museums, archaeological sites and tourist attractions—have had a ruinous effect on the rich cultural heritage of the Mediterranean nation.
Merkel is scheduled to meet with the leaders of France, Spain and Italy on match day to discuss, among other things, future plans for economic relief efforts, before flying to Gdansk, Poland, to watch her nation’s pride square off against the Greeks.
While its downtrodden citizens face one of the worst economic crises in decades, the success of their Greek heroes on the pitch has been a bright spot in an otherwise gloomy 2012. With unemployment rates nearing 20%, a victory on Friday would prove to be a much needed respite for a Greek citizenry that has had little to cheer for in the recent past.
Originally posted by Joshua Mix on
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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Cultural Security News (Jun. 10 - Jun. 16)

Art Basel, Tariffs, and Looting
Scream sets auction recordArt Basel highlighted the art market this week with reported offerings totaling $2 billion and Gagosian offering $250 million in works. As more evidence for a trend in art as an alternative investment, wealthy reportedly cling to art with a global average of 9.6% of their assets in collectibles. China again exceeds other nations with the wealthy devoting 17% of assets to collectibles as compared with 16% in Singapore, and 14% in Hong Kong. The trend seems to have attracted the attention of tax authorities, in that reportedly China plans to crack down on evasion of import tariffs on art. In the midst of acquisitions, nations such as Turkey continue an assertive campaign to repatriate cultural artifacts worldwide. Also in the realm of transfer of cultural property, Argentina seized paleontological objects in route from Columbia, and trafficking in antiquities inspires looting in The Middle East. Reportedly, illegal "sport" digging is on the rise in Greece, and the Israel Antiquities Authority pursues thieves in Modi’in. In the academic world, Italy and Yemen discussed cooperation on archaeological missions.
For similar news, visit Cultural Security News.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Political Economy of Art and Culture

Political Economy is an interdisciplinary concept that includes not only a number of different areas of study, such as finance, foreign relations, and security, but also requires considering the interrelation of the areas. How does one discipline influence the other, is an influence positive or negative, and what is the overall effect of the interaction between areas?
Each of these areas, or dimensions, has a representation in the art world. The art market represents finance and commerce, paintings and antiquities are what UNESCO refers to as types of cultural property, which has a role in foreign relations, and theft, forgeries, looting, and vandalism are types of crime that threaten the security of art. The interaction of one dimension with the others increases the influence of each on the political economy of art.
The trans-national commercial transfer of artworks increases the significance of cultural property in foreign relations, and the value of artworks motivates art crime.  In turn, the political importance of cultural property increases interest in monuments as targets of political violence and influences the market value of artworks. Thefts and forgeries consequently increase the risk of investing in art, and looting of antiquities and destruction of monuments in regional conflicts expand the role of cultural property in foreign policy.
Over the past half-century the art market, the politics of cultural property, and art crime have each increased in scope and intersected with one another to create the political economy of art and culture.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles?

On June 19th and 20th an international conference on “The Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles” will be held in London.  The Global London Colloquy will discuss the pertinent issues surrounding The British Museum’s claim on the Parthenon Marbles and will address the growing pressure for this “Universal Museum” to repatriate the antiquities to Greece. 
U.S. Politics Today reports that Dr. Tom Flynn will be speaking at the conference and will elaborate on the concept of the “Universal Museum,” discussing its controversial status with regard to the repatriation of objects and the function of the “encyclopedic collections” in our progressively globalized world.
The new Acropolis Museum in Athens, which opened in 2009, is arguably the Parthenon Marbles’ rightful home.  It is also argued the return of the Marbles will have a huge impact on morale among the Greek people.  The repatriation of the Marbles could be just the sort of “cultural gesture” that will inspire the much-needed optimism in light of Greece’s current economic troubles.  At the Global London Colloquy Dr. Flynn will contend that the reunification of the Marbles by the British Museum will pave the way towards a new era in global museum co-operation and cultural diplomacy.
This current interest in the Parthenon Marbles leads to several considerations.  What is the function of the Universal Museum? Is the establishment of more Universal Museums in developing nations a realistic objective? And, importantly, how do current international relationships and perceptions of economic stability affect the way we treat antiquities? How do social affairs—such as the upcoming 2012 Olympics, which will be held in London—factor in?
Originally posted by Sally Johnson on
Learn about the framework for Cultural Intelligence.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Cultural Security News (Jun. 03 - Jun. 09)

Revelation and Innovation in the Political Economy of Art
Ancient: The discovery of this leather-bound text will cause the collapse of Christianity worldwide, Iran has claimedA copy of the Barnabas Gospel made headlines again. The artifact was wrested from smugglers twelve years ago by Turkish authorities. Iranian authorities now, reportedly, claim that the gospel undermines tenets of Christianity, and the Vatican has reportedly demonstrated interest in authenticating the document. Questions of whether or not the art market will crash have followed the recent continued record-breaking sales at auction, yet the increase in and geographic spread of art fairs have the potential to expand the market. Additionally, information sources on the art market, such as Artprice, and on-line trading resources, such as Artnet, expand the number of art collectors and investors by continually increasing an understanding of and access to art. The potential for repatriation claims increases with the U.S. renewing agreements, such as with Peru, and nations such as Cambodia opening new cases against American museums.
For similar news, visit Cultural Security News.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cultural Security News (May 27 - Jun. 02)

Trend of Repatriation Policy
An undated photo attached as an Exhibit to the Manhattan US AttorneyTurkey continued efforts of repatriation with inquiries into objects at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Sri Lanka and Cambodia also furthered initiatives to retrieve cultural patrimony. Neglect of historic sites compromises knowledge of the development of Christianity in Iraq, and looting of Kincaid Mounds State Historic Site damaged record of pre-Colombian civilization in Illinois. Dutch Intelligence Service (AIVD) warned that Belgian Islamist Sheik Abu Imran called for the destruction of the a national symbol of Belgium. Israel's antiquities law enables looting within the nation and transfer of looted objects from abroad. Risk of forgeries was reported in Russia and Indonesia. On the upside, the Brazil art market is booming.
For similar news, visit Cultural Security News.