The Politics of Art after Innovation

Baudelaire and the 19th-century French decadent poets famously laid down the imperative to “shock the bourgeoisie.” Twentieth-century avant-garde movements answered this call, using unheard-of materials and modes to make new art for a new era. But innovation has gone from being a viable, world-building artistic strategy to a tech buzzword and a prerequisite for artists seeking blue-chip mega-collectors. Late capitalism has robbed shock of its political value. The terms of transgression have changed. The modernists and their successors reinvented art—now it’s time to reinvent the art market.

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