In the nineteenth century, the Académie des Beaux Arts, and institution of central importance to the artistic life of France for over two hundred years, yielded much of its power to the present system of art distribution, which is dependent upon critics, dealers, and small exhibitions. In Canvases and Careers, Harrison and Cynthia White examine in scrupulous and fascinating detail how and why this shift occurred. Assimilating a wide range of historical and sociological data, the authors argue convincingly that the Academy, by neglecting to address the social and economic conditions of its time, undermined its own ability to maintain authority and control.
Originally published in 1965, this ground-breaking work is a classic piece of empirical research in the sociology of art. In this edition, Harrison C. White's new Foreword compares the marketing approaches of two contemporary painters, while Cynthia A. White's new Afterword reviews recent scholarship in the field.