University of Cambridge > > Wolfson College Lunchtime Seminar Series - Wednesdays of Full Term > Trust and Power in the Art Market: A Machiavellian World?"

Trust and Power in the Art Market: A Machiavellian World?"

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This talk is open to the public and may be podcast

One of the most controversial texts in Western literature, Niccolo Machiavelli’s, Il Principe published in 1513, offers lessons for state-building, leadership and rule. His writings have been translated by contemporary theorists to inform ideas on management, business and organisation and his recommendations continue to both repel and inspire today. Machiavelli is commonly associated with advocating a calculated mix of deceit and force in the acquisition of power and a ‘Machiavellian’ approach has become synonymous with a manipulative ethic where the ‘ends justify the means’. Yet on the eve of his 500 year anniversary revisionist interpretations have stressed the text’s positive attributes including a core aim of enabling a stable, sustainable and efficient political regime in the context of extreme uncertainty. In this presentation I highlight a number of possible commonalities shared by the art world and Machiavelli’s princely state particularly regarding behavioural norms and institutional structures dependant on trust and interpersonal networks. Not unlike Machiavelli’s court setting, the often opaque art world provides ample tales of mystery and intrigue, loyalty and betrayal. I will consider how Machiavelli’s text might inform established and emergent art world organisations and practices and how Machiavelli is relevant to an industry which is, arguably, undergoing a period of radical and fundamental change.

This talk is part of the Wolfson College Lunchtime Seminar Series - Wednesdays of Full Term series.

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