The Importance of the Cultural Network and How to Use it


The Importance of the Cultural Network and How to Use it

The gauging of artistic value is carried out in the cultural network by specialists: museum curators, exhibition curators, historians of contemporary art, critics, professors and experts of all sorts” – ‘The Museum and the Marketplace: The Constitution of Value in Contemporary Art’ 1995 by Professor Raymonde Moulin, the French art historian who wrote extensively on the sociology of art

For art collectors, it is important to understand that in the art world, there exists a rigorous and complex, tried and tested, filter of validation. This recognises artworks of deep intrinsic artistic value by artists with a proven track record and serious potential. Popularity and money are not legitimate criteria here.

In almost all fields and professions, there exists a form of trusted authority who set and implement exacting standards. The art world experts, the art cognoscenti, who operate within the greater cultural network, act as the trusted body, voice and validator.

“Recognition and value are shaped by a network of experts, curators, collectors, and art historians whose judgments act as gatekeepers for museums, galleries, and auction houses”– ‘Quantifying Reputation and Success in Art’ by Albert-László Barabási, Network theory scientist, published in Science in 2018

The great Solomon Robert Guggenheim was guided by the art adviser Hilla von Rebay and so built a collection of artworks by Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Paul Klee, Fernand Léger, Robert Delaunay and Marc Chagall, for example. She also introduced Guggenheim to Frank Lloyd Wright, who designed the first Guggenheim museum. Without Rebay’s expertise and guidance, Guggenheim would not exist as it does today.

The Rockefeller family shaped the cultural landscape forever by taking the advice of the leading art experts. John D. Rockefeller III built the extensive family collection and the late David Rockefeller benefited from the sage advice of Alfred H. Barr Jr., the Museum of Modern Art’s Founding Director. They built a collection that when auctioned at Christie’s New York in May 2018 raised over $835.1 million to support philanthropic causes. This was the highest total for a private art collection of all time: “The sale of the century”.







The Guggenheim and Rockefeller dynasties used the expert advice from the cultural network, which enabled them to collect validated artworks of abiding substance and high artistic value leading them to greatness.

We are not discussing fad and mainstream works, celebrity endorsements or a large number of ‘likes’ online. This is not a form of validation, but more of a popularity contest. The validation by the art world experts is too important to be treated like a game and cannot be bought. This is what makes it so powerful and so genuine as it is carried out by a diverse, privy body, the cultural network, but the findings are transparent and out in the open for all to see. Follow the voice that counts. There is no guarantee, whatsoever, that the once fashionable works or those of popular opinion will stand the test of time. One may be left feeling empty as such artworks are found out to be seriously lacking: devoid of substance.

As discussed in our previous article, museums are the ultimate art world validation and reward for an artist. The collector can follow the experts, who have decided that the artist’s work needs to be included in the museum collection.

Like the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago, art museums’ collections are not only for today or tomorrow, but for generations to come. Art museums select and showcase the best art of the time for us to enjoy as well as future generations; this is why the very best art world experts must decide what is included, after all, they are shaping art history and art historical consciousness.

Excitingly the art collector can follow the experts’ judgements, giving them an edge, and also collect museum-quality, validated artworks.

Elizabeth Xi Bauer has a highly qualified international award winning team of art world experts operating within the cultural network. Each of our international artists has already achieved much success, which is clear to see (the best art schools, awards, international exhibitions, biennales, collected by esteemed institutions and private collections etc.) but they are also gaining traction. Among them, our artists are collected by top museums around the world: Tate, MoMA, Pompidou Centre, British Museum, Victoria and Albert and Yale Center for British Art, for example.

This article was published by Family Office Magazine (‘Art & Museum’ Autumn Issue 2019)