Bourdieu & Darbel: The Love of Art

Just throwing out a couple more quotes taken from “The Love of Art” by Pierre Bourdieu and Alain Darbell,* first published in France in 1969. This book is essentially a report and analysis of a series of public surveys conducted at museums around Europe with the aim of understanding the audience for those institutions and addressing the perceived need to expand their reach amongst the population. The book is arguing against an assumption of innate or “natural” cultural sensitivity which can somehow be “activated,” pointing to the role of the social environment in which we grow up and length of our education in the formation of cultural receptivity which needs an equivalent input later on in life if the individual is to be acculturated (as it were). Needless to say, “class” gets heavily implicated in the receptivity (or not) of cultural material.

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BOOKS: Blanchot and Bourdieu

I received two new books yesterday to add the library, Maurice Blanchot’s Friendship and Pierre Bourdieu and Alain Darbel’s The Love of Art.

The Bourdieu/Darbel book is one which we’ve been reading in relation to the Framing Art course, looking at museums and their relations with their audiences. The Love of Art is a report on a series of what were essentially market research studies of the visitors to various museums in France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Poland and Greece during 1964–5. They examined the demographic profiles of the visitors to the various targeted sites and their histories in relation to that museum, and to museums and art in general, as well as their perceived needs from the institution, and impressions of it.

Friendship is a collection of essays by Blanchot, a critic and philosopher whose writing cropped up in our readings around the Museums and Photography session for the same course. In particular with reference to André Malraux’s Museum Without Walls. An essay in this collection of Blanchot’s criticism, entitled The Museum, Art, and Time, discusses Malraux’s writings on the museumification of art. I’ve yet to read this essay, but isn’t that the joy of collecting books: The potentialities that they offer for future reading and the sheer impossibility of ever completing them all? Potentialities, by Giorgio Agamben – another book I bought recently and have yet to read.