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Art and Value – Museum Collections as Commons

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A Review of Art and Value: Art’s Economic Exceptionalism in Classical, Neoclassical and Marxist Economics by Dave Beech

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Art and Value: Art’s Economic Exceptionalism in Classical, Neoclassical and Marxist Economics reveals the irreconcilable differences between the Marxist economic definition of the term ‘value’ and its other uses in relation to the art object. It corrects the faulty assumption, symptomatic of a capitalist worldview, that rare or historic objects bear intrinsic value. Beech’s analysis of art’s value-form is critical to unpacking the double ontological condition of art as both an object of collective symbolic value and as a hoard of monetary value, since the two operate in mutually exclusive spheres, yet function to constitute one another. The book can help us understand the capitalist sleight of hand that allows art to flicker between two forms of being, making profit appear as value, and value appear as significance (and vice versa), the toggling between the two facilitating the transfer of commonly-held symbolic value in support of the individual accumulation of wealth.

Affiliations: 1: School of Art, College of the Arts, California State University Long Beach


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1. Bernes Jasper, Spaulding Daniel 2016"‘Truly Extraordinary’" Radical PhilosophyVol 195 51 54 available at: <>
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10. O’Donnell Nicholas 2014"‘A Trust for The Benefit of the Public Is Not “The Public Trust” – The Deaccessioning Debate and the Detroit Institute of Arts’" The Art Law Report 4 June available at: <>
11. Smith John 2016 Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century: Globalization, Super-Exploitation, and Capitalism’s Final Crisis New York Monthly Review Press
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13. Wikström Josefine 2015"‘Art’s Economic Exceptionalism’" Mute 12 November available at: <>

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