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What is the "Art World"?

Carlos Amorales, "Ghost Demonstration", 2019. Photo by author, Frieze London 2019.

What is the “Art World”? This question is what I get asked the most from friends and family who do not have professional careers in the Fine Arts. The “Art World” is something vague that they hear about but cannot comprehend what it stands for, to their defense, a lot of people who claim to be part of such a world do not put much thought into its meaning either. In this article, I will define the meaning of the art world and discuss why there are many art worlds, rather than one, which all reflect their own social and political infrastructures.

The art world or artworld is a loose social environment composed of everyone involved in the production, presentation, preservation, critic, and monetary transaction of Fine Art. In other words, the art world refers to the people such as visual artists, dealers, critics, collectors, and institutions such as galleries, museums, auction houses, art fairs, biennales, and so on. The singular term of “Art World” generally speaking, is only reserved for the fine art networks geographically located in Western Europe and The United States where a million-dollar price tag for an art piece is pocket money for the collectors. One would argue that the center of the art world is located in London and New York, and as of recent years, Hong Kong, due to these cities having the largest art markets. However, suggesting there is a center in the art world would mean that a globalized, one-encompassing art world exists, which is a myth. Rather multiple art worlds exist at local and regional levels worldwide and the center is disappearing as emerging art markets grow, creating alternative art centers.

“Ok, so where are these other art worlds, you are talking about? And why should I care about their existence?” You might ask. Well, the answer is simple, these “other” art worlds exist everywhere outside the elite networks of the major art hubs mentioned above. The reason why you should care is that we need diversity and different perspectives to the mainstream “Art World” that does a poor job at representing the global community and neglects their perspective to our contemporary global issues that we all share as humans. Broadening our cultural understanding of the different art worlds can allow us to grow as a real global community where transactions of ideas can easily travel.

The UK, US, and China are currently dominating the art markets, but outside their art capital cities, exist various art centers that deserve attention as well as the art worlds in the rest of Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Australia which all have dynamic art scenes as well as smaller art worlds within, that reflect the social-political, economic and cultural of the identity of the region. The emerging art markets, such as Mexico City, are a reflection of the country’s economic growth. The economic prosperity in Mexico has allowed for a sustainable contemporary art market to flourish and become one of the leading art markets in Latin America. Just like Mexico City, there are a plethora of art centers worth exploring.

I am passionate about contemporary art and I enjoy exploring art within a broader geopolitical context to get a better understanding of emerging art markets outside the current art world's framework. This is the reason why I created The Nomad Salon. Another reason for the creation of this project is to inform you, the reader, that you do not need to be rich nor famous to be an art collector, which helps support the careers of artists. Great artists are creating high-quality work at affordable prices who reside in the many alternative art centers around the globe and I am here to help guide you to them.


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