This research reveals the social relations of the art world through an investigation of visual artists’ ordinary art-making practices. Drawing on extended ethnographic research, the article attends to art and ordinary work, clarifying how visual artists’ work, is not only shaped socially and historically, but also reveals tensions about what counts as art and who counts as an artist. The article clarifies how today’s art world valorises conceptual approaches – centred on mobilising concepts and ideas, while devaluing expressivist approaches – centred on accessing intuition or inspiration. The article makes visible an increasingly conceptual, academic art world in which an expressivist practice is harder to sustain. By tracing shifting forms of work and shifting social relations, the study contributes to educational research on art, while calling attention to organisational processes that deeply shape artists’ lives.

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Keywords Artists, feminist ethnography, social organisation, work
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Journal Ethnography and Education
Klostermann, J. (Janna). (2018). Art, ordinary work and conceptuality: sculpting the social relations of the art world. Ethnography and Education, 1–15. doi:10.1080/17457823.2018.1484297