Clowney on corruption in the art market and in prostitution

Maddalena penitente (Mary Magdalene Penitente), By Caravaggio, c. 1594-1595, currently hanging in the Doria Pamphilj Gallery in Rome

Professor Stephen Clowney of the University of Arkansas School of Law has written an interesting article examining the role of markets in certain special categories: things like organs, human lives, sex, and works of art. He has an interesting summary of the scholarship critical of markets; and he suggests I think that markets are not inherently corrupt. He ably points out flaws in the scholarship which criticizes commodification, yet he makes his own grave errors in relation to the role of the market on the art trade and its allied fields and disciplines. His approach is a kind of ethnographic study of art appraisers and prostitutes. The article is well-written and entertaining, but I just don’t think you get a complete picture of the art market by only talking with appraisers. He also ignores large areas of helpful scholarship from criminologists, totally ignores the Knoedler forgery scandal, and does not acknowledge the problems presented by the antiquities trade. But if you want an entertaining read, I can recommend it.

Clowney, Stephen (2020) “Does Commodification Corrupt? Lessons from Paintings and Prostitutes,”¬†Seton Hall Law Review: Vol. 50 : Iss. 4 , Article 3.
Available at: https://scholarship.shu.edu/shlr/vol50/iss4/3