The Influence of Core-Periphery Relations on the Process of Canon-Formation

January 3, 2018

How does the network position of artists influence whether they become part of the community that shapes the artistic canon or one of those being tossed to the periphery of the art world?

How do influential actors in the art system shape, reconstruct and establish these relations?

Júlia Perczel, PhD candidate at the Center for Network Science investigates these questions among many others to map the cultural production practices of the art world.

Actors on the (semi)periphery compete with each other for entering and being recognized by the central sphere, while artists of the core regions share the common interest of selecting new members in a way that legitimates and reinforces their beneficial position. At the same time, they also contend to reestablish their current and possibly seize even more advantageous places. Júlia has been working with three significant databases including information of the Western art world: the Tate, the MoMa, and the Centre Pompidou, to understand how dominant actors form these complex interplays within and between the core-periphery areas by implementing canon-formation practices. She also has a special focus on the CEE region and observes how the different collections relate to each other regarding the artists that are represented in the given region. What kind of internal structures evolve and characterize its own small systems, and how do they relate and are intertwined with those of other areas? What kind of selection strategies of the hubs and copying patterns of action of (semi) peripheries can be observed?

In general, the core-periphery relations of complex systems are worth getting scientific attention, and the art world is a particular type of these entities that have not been mapped thoroughly. Júlia is interested in implementing research using the mixture of network and cultural sociological approach, in the framework of world system analysis by integrating qualitative and quantitative methodology on big data. As a consequence, we can expect an interesting, multilevel work, since observation of the art world entails ‘traveling’ across political-cultural institutions and practices that have a great impact on what we perceive as (valuable) art and that are also embedded in space, time and different contexts, interpretations of the social system as a whole, and as the collection of small independent entities. Stay tuned for colorful analysis!

Blog post by Rebeka O. Szabó