As political boundaries give way to globalization, cultures become more exposed to foreign influence. Rhetoric by officials in China and concerns about the influence of development in Africa reflect the effects on national cultures. While effects are apparent, tracking change remains a challenge. Qualitative observations describe the change, but a measurable rate of change remains elusive. An emerging political economy of cultural property adds complexity but also identifies a means to track the change.
A global market for art and antiques provides a means to measure the perceived “value” of culture. Enterprises such as Artprice of France and Artron of China increasingly provide data online to monitor art sales, and a recent report on the two enterprises combining resources holds potential for a comprehensive source of data from the art market. Similarly, the annual report that follows TEFAF provides data not only on auction sales but also on private sales, which can make up a significant portion of the global market for art and antiques. But what does the resulting Big Data look like, and what does it say about the value of culture?
The steady increase of China’s market share may suggest that China increasingly values culture, at least in the form of fine art and antiques. The increase does demonstrate China’s ability to compete with Western nations for influence in the global spectrum of cultural power. The available data allow for further analyses on fine art and antiques, and the market for antiquities remains to be explored.
What other questions about the perceived value of culture in the 21st century might be asked and answered through Big Data of the art market?
Learn about the framework for Cultural Intelligence.