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How do artists work in the 21st century? Models of cooperation, studio practice and knowledge production in the art field

Description of the project:
This project explores forms of organisation, patterns of professionalisation, and decision-making structures in contemporary art practices. It analyses present-day studio practice, examines the shifting art-educational system, and investigates the influence of the art market. In doing so theoretical and sociological perspectives on art are brought into a productive relationship with historical studies on art. The discourse on art labour strategies is dominated currently by principal debates around creativity. There are two conflicting interpretations of this debate: On one hand the myth of the „artistic genius“ is long-discredited. In the 1990s, the deconstruction of ideas of the avant-garde and artists’ cutting-edge position was enacted–partly in order to place art practices closer to everyday life. Artists therefore placed their work as a form of production among others, and in doing so, shifted the emphasis of this work away from the concept of creation and the idea of a protean creator. On the other hand, the artist–due to externally ascribed attributes of freedom and creativity– is still considered as the prototype for an often-invoked “creative class” (Florida). This leads to the disputable assumption that the artist is equipped with a portfolio of specialised innovative competences, particularly in the development of new working methods and forms, and this still survives in the discourse on the creative industries (Boltanski/Chiapello and McRobbie). But the ubiquitous idea of the creative worker, often used by the current governments of western democracies, does not ultimately empower the art field but misappropriates and endangers the original logic and resistance of artistic labour due to its denial of the distinction between artistic and economic labour. The research project outlined here will show which new forms of artistic practice have emerged from this expanding art field, and that such an expansion should not be equated prematurely with liquidation of the arts into creative industries. However, to invoke such liquidation loses sight of the fact that the definition of the limits of the art field itself is crucial to current artistic practice. This project, therefore, raises questions about patterns of attribution which, in turn, distinguish art and non-art. It is essential to adjust the focus towards new role models and modes of production in an increasingly segregated art field. In today’s artistic production there is an observable diversification in work strategies and role models which ranges from traditional painting and sculpture, social engineering, documentary practices via artistic research to approaches close to industrial production and design. Hence this project will not only analyse empirically current studio practices, but also investigate on the structures of independent art projects, education within art colleges and the establishment of networks in the wider art world. The intended research outcome is to gain a differentiated comprehension of contemporary art production. The research is based on two different methodological approaches: participant observation, which has its roots in sociological laboratory studies, via expert interviews and; quantitative studies to a discourse analysis methodology. The project is divided into the following primary areas: 1. Studios of the post-studio era. Studies on large-scale production and on studio practice at the crossing with the creative industries. 2. Exemplary models of artistic work beyond the art market– Studies on work and labour practices and networks in the art field, which are not aligned with the art trade. 3. Rites of passage and patterns of inclusion in the art field. Studies on the question: How do you become an artist? 4. Epistemological studies on the training and formation of artistic knowledge and methods of professionalization. 5. Investigations on the art market as an influence factor on artistic practice. 6. Cultural policy as an influence factor on artistic practice.

contact person: Karen van den Berg
Start of project: 01.07.2008
End of project: 01.03.2021
Project Management:
Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen
Prof. Dr. phil. Karen van den Berg, Dr. Ursula Pasero
Lehrstuhl für Kunsttheorie & inszenatorische Praxis (eingerichtet 09/2003)

Am Seemooser Horn
88045 Friedrichshafen

Phone: +49 7541 6009-1303
Fax: +49 7541 6009-1399
Email: karen.vandenberg@zu.de
Actual Research Report
  • Kunststiftung Baden-Württemberg, Stiftung
  • Zeppelin Universitätsgesellschaft, Foerderverein
    Kunstproduktion Post Studio Production Artistic Knowledge Art Market Künstlernetzwerke Künstlerkarrieren
project-related publications:
  • van den Berg, Karen: Laboratorien, in: Hensel, Thomas / Ruf, Olliver (Hrsg.): Handbuch Designwissenschaft. Theorie – Praxis – Geschichte , Stuttgart, Metzler, 2020 (in Druck).
  • van den Berg, Karen: Artistic Episteme at Universities, 2017 (Lunch Talk, Aalto Arts, Aalto University): https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10156261232423132&set=gm.10155089556087865&type=3&theater&ifg=1 (download: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10156261232423132&set=gm.10155089556087865&type=3&theater&ifg=1) .
  • van den Berg, Karen, Buck, Christina: On the Poetics of Measuring Space. Appropriating, Acting, Creating Atmospheres / Zur Poetik der RaumvermessungAneignen, Agieren, Atmosphären erzeugen, GAM Architecture Magazine, 2017 (13): 10-23.
  • van den Berg, Karen: Studio und Labor. Ausschnitte aus dem Forschungscluster „Kulturproduktion der nächsten Gesellschaft“, 2012 (Research Day "Forschung feiern" - Forschungstag der Zeppelin Universität).
  • van den Berg, Karen: Ungefährliche Experimente - Das Studio als Labor, Zeitschrift für Ästhetik und Allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft, 2012; Jg. 57 (2): 307-320.
  • van den Berg, Karen: Unterbrochene Weltverhältnisse und emergente Ordungen / Interrupted World Directedness and Emergent Orders, in: Alexander von Berswordt-Wallrabe (Hrsg.): Reusch. Der Raum ist das Ereignis / Reusch. It is the space, Düsseldorf, Richter & Fey Verlag GmbH, 2012: 6-37.
  • van den Berg, Karen (zus. mit Ursula Pasero): Large-Scale Art Fabrication and the Currency of Attention, in: Maria Lind / Olav Velthuis (Hrsg.): Contemporary Art And Its Commercial Markets: A Report On Current Conditions and Future Scenarios, Berlin, Sternberg Press, 2012: 153-181.
  • Landkammer, Joachim: Re-Dilettantisierung der Künste? Ein Utopieentwurf in zwanzig Thesen, in: Reiner Küppers (Hrsg.): Kultur unter Spannung, Berlin, Kadmos, 2011: 79-88.
  • van den Berg, Karen: Studio Practice and Large Scale Production, 2011 (10th Conference of the European Sociological Association, SOCIAL RELATIONS IN TURBULENT TIMES, SRN02 - The Arts in the Creative Industries, University Geneve): http://imatis.unige.ch/conference/?date=2011-09-09.
  • van den Berg, Karen, Pasero, Ursula: Anerkennung, Ansagesysteme und Nachhaltigkeit, 2011 (Zeppelin Universität, Tagung "Kunstarbeit jenseits des Kunstmarkts", Lehrstuhl für Kulturmanagement und inszenatorische Praxis und Kunstbüro der Kunststiftung Baden-Württemberg) (download: http://www.zeppelin-university.de/deutsch/lehrstuehle/kulturmanagement/KBBW_Kunstarbeit.pdf) .
  • van den Berg, Karen, Sibylle Omlin, ECAV - Academy of Arts Wallis, CH: Field generated theory in artistic research Reflections on the transdisciplinary Research project eMotion, 2010 (Artistic Research als Ästhetische Wissenschaft? Akademie Schloß Solitude Stuttgart): http://www.akademie-solitude.de/671_asb_events.php?idnum=209&lastpage=310_events_current.php&cur=0.
  • van den Berg, Karen (mit Ursula Pasero): Wie arbeiten Künstler im 21. Jahrhundert?, 2010 (Research Day "Forschung feiern" der Zeppelin Universität, 22.01.2010).
  • van den Berg, Karen (mit Ursula Pasero): Inszenierung der Arbeit – Legitimationsanstrengungen in Großstudios und ihre Vorgeschichte(n) Vortrag Wie arbeiten KünstlerInnen im 21 Jahrhundert? 1. Oktober 2010 , 2010 (Experten-Workshop "Wie arbeiten Künstler im 21. Jahrhundert?", Zeppelin Universität).
  • van den Berg, Karen: Kreativität. Drei Absagen der Kunst an ihren erweiterten Begriff, in: Stephan A. Jansen / Eckhard Schröter / Nico Stehr (Hrsg.): Rationalität der Kreativität? Multidisziplinäre Beiträge zur Analyse der Produktion, Organisation und Bildung von Kreativität , Wiesbaden, VS Verlag, 2009: 207-224.