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The contemporary art world is intimidating for many: record auction prices, glamorous private parties, celebrity artists, and mega galleries catering to the super rich. News coverage of contemporary art can shape our perception of how the art world runs and what it is about. It feels exclusive and a difficult arena not only to enter but moreover to confidently navigate, especially if you are new to the art world. It need not be like this.
This 6-week course sheds light on many myths (and truths) surrounding the contemporary art world by taking it apart – and putting it back together again. The course will look at the ecology of the art world and introduce the different players that shape it – from museums and institutions to curators and writers, from galleries to auctions houses and online sales platforms, from the occasional buyer to the super collector – and last but not least it will review the role of the artist amongst it all. The course will introduce different models of the art ecology and bring transparency to the dependency of the different actors within this complex system.

By the end of this course:

  • You will gain an understanding of the different players in the art world and their role and function within it.
  • You will understand how these different players are related to and dependent on each other to form the contemporary art ecology.
  • You will develop analytical skills to critically engage and evaluate the contemporary art world.
  • You will participate more confidently and engage actively with the art world.
The Details
  • Course Dates

    Course Dates

    January 17 - February 27, 2017

    Online orientation opens on January 10, 2017.
  • Faculty


    Stephanie Dieckvoss
    MA, Art History, University of Hamburg and the Courtauld Institute, London; MBA, Public Services, Warwick Business School

    Stephanie Dieckvoss has over 15 years experience of working in commercial art galleries and art fairs, and a wealth of experience in cultural management in the public and private sector. She managed the Anish Kapoor Exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery and raised over £2 million for the expansion of the Serpentine Gallery by organising their charity auction in partnership with Sotheby's. She was Fair Manager for Frieze Art Fair from its launch until 2006, Co-Director of Art HK: Hong Kong International Art Fair from 2007-2009 and Fair Director of Art 13-Art15 from 2012 – 2014. She now consults independently and writes for the German Financial Newspaper The Handelsblatt as well as the Neue Züricher Zeitung as their London art market correspondent.
  • Sample Topics

    Sample Topics

    Week 1: The Contemporary Art World – An Introduction

    • Introduction to the course

    • A working definition of the contemporary art world

    • The art world in 2016 - where are we now

    Week 2: The Art World Ecology – What Does It Mean?

    • Art world models – a critical evaluation

    • Networks and Relationships

    • Platforms: Artfairs and Biennials

    Week 3: Museums, Institutions, Curators and Critics – The Not-for-Profit Arena

    • How do public spaces function today and what is their role in today’s society?

    • Who creates shows – artists or curators?

    • Who assigns critical validation – or: is the critic dead?

    Week 4: Galleries and Auction Houses: An Introduction to Primary and Secondary Markets

    • What is a gallery today – its role and function

    • Auction houses – the powerhouses of the secondary market

    • Power conglomerates – the development of the global players

    Week 5: Collectors and Collections: Private, Corporate and Institutional

    • Why collecting - different motivations of collecting art

    • How these motivations shape the art world

    Week 6: Artists: The Elephant in the Room

    • The position of artists in the art world

    • The career trajectory of the artist and what influences it

    • Who ‘makes’ the value of an artist’s work?

  • Online Orientation

    Online Orientation

    Our online orientation operates the same way as the course, giving you the opportunity to become familiar with the technology and the dynamics of online teaching and learning. Participation in the  orientation is not required, but it is strongly encouraged as students who complete the experience have a better chance of success. The orientation is available one week prior to class and remains open for you to use as a resource.
  • Course Fees And Enrollment

    Course Fees And Enrollment

    $1485 ($1335 if booked before December 20, 2016)

    Registration Fee: $15

    Click here to enroll and pay online.
    Terms and Condition
  • Contact And Request Information

    Contact And Request Information

    For further information, please contact:
    Claire Hoover, Program Manager of Online Learning 
    Email: or Request Information Tel: +1.212.897.6644

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