Success of the Chelsea Gallery
The success of the Chelsea gallery scene is largely due to the desire to have. If “priceless” art is the most indisputable way of showing” to what ends one is willing to reach in order to apposite for their love of art and if “the appropriation of symbolic (art) objects” are appropriated as a way of showing these lengths, then the successful art scene in Chelsea makes perfect sense. Bourdieu writes “To appropriate a work of art is to assert oneself as the exclusive possessor of the object and of the authentic taste for that object, which is thereby converted into the reified negation of all those who are unworthy of possessing it” (Bourdieu, p280).
Despite the saturation of large gallery spaces and hence the ability to show art as a mass product, albeit expensive, the sale price of art continues to see growth. The price of art is not increasing because its artistic value has, but rather because the process of distinction is bound to the predilection, that price connotes distinction. The Chelsea art scene may have seen its birth because of the need for space to show art. However, as it expanded and where it is now, the need for space has taken a back seat to the need for investors to capitalize on a bourgeoning new way to show art – large warehouse spaces. The actual co-opting of the art scene in Chelsea was subject to this “appropriation of symbolic objects”. Even in SOHO, as gallery space was at a premium, it was manageable by at least a wise few. However, in Chelsea, in these mega spaces, which are subject to commercial pricing, few, can afford the cost in a rising real estate market. One might say that an unanticipated consequence of moving the gallery scene to Chelsea essentially handed over the control of New York City’s art market to the wealthiest, to those who consider themselves more distinguished than individuals who are “unworthy of possessing it” (Bourdieu, p280).
Rejection of Gallery Beat
Gallery Beat economized a luxury good by presenting art (and its scene) emphasizing accessibility over ability, “between quantity and quality”, to understand style – a good to be consumed freely rather than on the condition of one’s ability to distinguish (Bourdieu, p.6). By forbidding Paul H-O access into galleries, an essential part of understanding art is taken away, “the capacity to see” (Bourdieu, p.2). The rejection Paul faces is a symbolic message from an upper class; they believe in a structured approach to art, “keys to enjoyment of art”, which is a condition they define. Paul’s show had an entertainment as well as an educational value, however, the viewer was presented an image and how they processed the image was completely in their control. The “mode of cultural acquisition”, defined by the top of the hierarchy finds Gallery Beat’s approach offensive (Bourdieu, p.2): If you want to comprehend art you must go the path, which we define, and not through a bumbling public access program. We will not permit access to the general-public into the art world. If as Bourdieu has said of taste – a sign of ‘class’ (p.1), and if “a beholder who lacks the specific code feels lost…” in a gallery (p.2), then not only is taste a marker, in its “hidden-ness” taste is also an aggressive defense of ‘class’ (Bourdieu, p.2).
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