Post War Auction
Short Course

Inside the Art World

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Fees: HK$22,000.00


The international art world is made up of an extraordinary variety of institutions and individuals. From artists, collectors, critics and dealers to auction houses, fairs and museums, this art business course will explore the make-up of this dynamic industry. With a focus on the contemporary art scene and its global outlook, the programme includes lectures on the art world’s key players as well as conversations with art world professionals and visits to important institutions.

Véronique Chagnon-Burke, Academic Director of Christie’s Education New York, will examine the traditional artistic centres of London, New York and Paris. From this starting point, students will tour local art institutions and speak with local experts who will reveal the rapidly developing art scene of Hong Kong, China, and Asia.

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Course dates

Date & Time
Monday 29 February - Friday 4 March 2016
10:00am - 5:00pm

New World Tower II, 18 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong


(Discounted rate of HK$20,000 if paid in full by 15 February 2016)

Professor Chagnon-Burke
Faculty Member

Véronique Chagnon-Burke

Academic Director


Mapping the Art World

In an age of global communication, where art works are breaking records at auction and artists act more like celebrities than bohemian rebels; the art world is no longer a homogenous body working within a small community. It has become an aggregate of multiple worlds which interact and overlap in a complex fashion. The art world is a network of dependencies between a set of players, whose influences changes over time. This first lecture is meant to map out who these players are in order to unravel how they relate with each other.

The Artist: From Bohemian to Branded Celebrity

As we learned earlier, the artist is at the center of this network of dependencies. Since the late 1800s, with the development of modern art, artists who aspired to be recognized had to develop strategies to build a career. Part of that strategy was to become visible and to embrace the idea of artist as entrepreneur. This lecture will center on the artist, and the image that has been constructed around the artistic persona. From the modern artists who identified themselves with radical politics and bohemian culture to the artists of today who have become more akin to celebrity, we will investigate how society’s vision of artists changed and how the place they hold in our world has shifted over time.


The Dealer: Nurturing the Artist

With the development of modern art, art dealers moved into the center of the art world. They became the essential support of the artists who had lost their official patronage. Since the late 1800s, their main role has been to nurture the career of their artists, and to establish their long term reputation. This will lead us to consider what ultimately makes a gallery successful. In this lecture, we will look at how the role of the dealer has changed since legendary dealer Leo Castelli, and how globalization and the rising power of the auction house have affected the place dealers have in our contemporary cultural landscape.

Art Fairs and Biennials: An International Art Calendar

Art fairs and biennials have been popping up everywhere at a rhythm no one can follow. Their calendars are a reflection of our globalized world. Their numbers and diversity clearly demonstrate that the art centers have been re-configured according to a new cultural geography. They provide different ways of engaging with art and design, and it is easy to confuse the two. Why have they emerged and why are they maintaining their importance throughout the last few decades?

By looking back to the late 1800s and the birth of modern art, this lecture will address the different role that both of these events play in the dissemination of art. We will look at how over the years, the lines between to commercial fair and the non-commercial biennials have become blurred and how the fairs have become a preferred way for people to buy art.


The Auction House:  Becoming a Global Art Business

Among art institutions, the auction house is to a certain extent the only artist free zone. One can say that only the secondary market is dealt within the auction saleroom. The auction market is a highly concentrated business, Christie’s and Sotheby’s have about 1/3 of the total auction market share by value and have offices throughout the globe, conducting auction from Hong Kong to New York.

This lecture will look at the uniqueness of auction houses. Because they operate within an explicit set of rules, they have provided the art world with a transparent access to prices. But today auction houses are much more than just auction houses. They have become art business, expanding their services to offer private and on-line only sales; as well as organizing non-selling exhibitions and supporting artist foundations. 

The Auction Process

This session discusses how a work of art travels through the entire sale process, from consignment to cataloguing, from exhibition to the final moment of the auction.

How Specialists Set Auction Estimates

Auctioneering Techniques and Mock Auction

Behind-the-scenes tour at Christie’s Hong Kong


The Power of the Word: Journalists and Critics

Looking back at the essential role that art critics have played in shaping new movements, this lecture will consider the power of art criticism on the contemporary art world. From the all-powerful Clement Greenberg, who coming from a long lineage of art critics, saw himself as a mediator between new art and the public to today’s blogs, how does the printed word affects our understanding of art?

But we also need to consider that the networks that support art are based on information economics, a lecture on the power of the critic could not be complete without asking how the new internet art platforms such as Artsy, Paddle 8 or artnet, blogs such as Hyperallergic, or even services such as ArtTatics have changed the way we engaged with art.

Art Collectors in a New Millennium: Trophy, Passion or Investment?

Why do people collect? What makes a collector also an art patron? What is the power of the collector in today’s art world? Despite the fact that the power of the market dictates collecting trends; people collect art for many reasons. This lecture will investigate the questions outlined above as well as consider the various types of collectors who are the trend setters today.

Among the many factors that motivated collectors, one of the primary motivator has been identified as the ‘emotional value,’ but in an age of record breaking prices, how is the ‘emotional value’ being challenged by the ‘financial value’? From the trophy collector to the passionate collector, looking at case studies, we will illuminate the central role that collectors play in today’s art world.


Museums and Cultural Institutions: Cultural Tourism and National Identity

From Doha, to Bilbao and Miami, museums exist for many reasons and they take on many shapes. But more importantly museum curatorial practices play an essential role in validating artist’s career outside the commercial world. This lecture will attempt to map out the role that museums play in our cultural world. What values do they support? How do they see their educational responsibilities, how do they engage with their audience and which place do they give to technology to accomplish their goals?  Have museums become more theme parks than libraries? How do star architects and star curators participate in these developments? And finally how do these museums provide an alternative economic outlet by supporting cultural tourism?  These are some of the issues that will be addressed in this talk.


Lecture schedule and topics are subject to change. Please check back for updates.



Letter of attendance

At the end of the course, upon complete attendance of all the sessions, students will be awarded a letter of attendance.


(Discounted rate of HK$20,000 if paid in full by 15 February 2016)

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