Capitalism is Here to Stay: An Appraisal of the Complicated Relationship Between Art, Art-Making, and the Marketplace

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This paper examines the relationship between art and capitalism in America from the 1960s to the present, and questions whether art practices, specifically dance, can offer a form of resistance to dominant economic systems. During the 1960s, postmodern artists’ emphasis on decoupling process and product in an attempt to severe the relationship between art and consumerism led to the development of an anti-labor, pro-institution, pro-business culture in the arts which persists today. As artists experiment with form, content, and style on the fringes of culture with little to no economic benefit, their ideas are appropriated by mainstream interests, like institutions and the media, and enter the marketplace. There, they produce profit the artist never sees, despite having originated the idea or way of thinking. Through an overview of the history of modern and postmodern dance in America in the 20th century, research into the careers of prominent choreographers, an examination of the role of institutions in cultivating the avant-garde, a comparison of practices of art-making and practices of producing goods, and current concerns at the intersection of art and labor, this research looks for outposts of artistic opposition to contemporary capitalism.


The Arts: 2nd Place (The Ohio State University Edward F. Hayes Graduate Research Forum)


arts, dance, capitalism, postmodern, participatory art-making practices, resistance