Art Rules: Pierre Bourdieu and the Visual Arts

By Michael Grenfell; Cheryl Hardy | Go to book overview

8
Conclusion

In this book we have offered the case for a Bourdieusian perspective on art and aesthetics. This approach has involved a presentation of a particular theory of practice and the application of it to a series of case examples. In the opening chapter we asked the questions: Why do it? And what happens when one does? In this final chapter we offer some reflections of what has gone before and pull together some concluding remarks in response to these questions.

In Part I, we gave an account of Bourdieu and his intellectual trajectory. This consideration of the life of Bourdieu was not simply a way of providing background to the work and ideas we employed subsequently. Rather, we set out to establish two things: first, the way Bourdieu's work needs to be understood as of its time, in terms of both the socio-historical context and the intellectual climate which surrounded him; and second, to establish the position of his work on art and culture in his entire output. We made the point that art and culture were central to his thinking in terms of what they provide for men and women in society. In this respect, they offered one side of a coin which has education on the other. Education, art and culture – these themes run throughout Bourdieu's work. However, this preoccupation was not simply a biographical detail of Bourdieu's work. The same themes have dominated, and continue to dominate, our contemporary world. In a world of mass communication, the media and the Internet, we are all subject to art and culture – both high and low – in one form or another.

Part I therefore examined Bourdieu's theory of practice, and what using it 'opened up' in terms of taste, culture, art and aesthetics. It was necessary to delve into philosophy in order to consider the foundations of modern aesthetics in the work of Immanuel Kant. This philosophical perspective was contrasted with Bourdieu's own sociological account – an account which itself needs to be understood in terms of the epistemology, the philosophy which underpins it. We presented Bourdieu's 'thinking tools' and showed how they are employed. We also made a distinction between art production and art consumption.

Part II then took these 'thinking tools', this theory of practice, to three contemporary case examples. Our project was to apply a Bourdieusian perspective to cases other than those offered by Bourdieu himself Chapter 4 examined three major world-class museums/galleries: MOMA, the Tate and the Musée d'Orsay. We discussed their operations in terms of their position in the field of cultural consumption and connected Bourdieu's own findings with what we can see in different social

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Art Rules: Pierre Bourdieu and the Visual Arts
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • List of Tables and Figures xi
  • I - Introduction 1
  • Part I - Theory 7
  • 2: A Brief History of Theory 9
  • 3: Aesthetics and the Visual Arts 36
  • Part II - Practice 63
  • 4: Museums 65
  • 5: Painting 107
  • 6: Photography 137
  • Part III - Visual Arts in the Twenty-First Century 171
  • 7: Back to the Future 173
  • 8: Conclusion 195
  • Bibliography 199
  • Index 209
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