The absolute artwork meets the absolute commodity

Art’s relation to commodification is an unavoidable and entrenched condition for much of the theory, history and practice of art today; so entrenched, in fact, as to have become implicit and assumed for many. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, considerations of this relation have been marginal to most of what passes academically for the philosophy of art. This is especially so in the Analytical tradition, where art’s relations to its formation within capitalist societies is routinely methodologically excluded as an extra-philosophical concern, to be left to economics, sociology or history. The most receptive point of entry for these considerations would seem to be in the elaboration of institutional theories of art and the ‘artworld’, but these have so far been developed at a level of generality that fails to register the specificity of capitalist forms, such as the commodity. There is the potential for an application of such theories to this end, but, as a mere application, the core philosophical articulation of ‘what art is’ would remain untouched..