The project

“Art does not need a language, it expresses itself through its works.” The idea that works of art speak for themselves, that they determine their place in the art market by themselves and that commentaries only accompany them from the outside, does not conform with reality. What art is, is negotiated through discourse. This is true not only of the ascription of quality but also of style and epoch terminology, of talk about “the decay of painting” or “the arbitrariness of postmodernity”.

The domain of knowledge Art – Art Market – Art Historyinvestigates the role of language in the field of art. It searches by way of lexical semantics, text and discourse analysis for key terms, stigmas, topoi of argumentation and linguistic construction of group identities (German art vs. Art in Germany, modernity, etc.). At the same time it investigates the question of forms and the success of the linguistic translation of art to the public, of expert to lay person.

Activities & Results

    • The meeting Drafting Identity through Language in Communication on Art took place form 24. to 26. February 2010. A book on the proceedings is scheduled to be published in 2011.
    • The discourse on art generated by the reopening of an exhibition was the core interest of Andreas Gardt’s and Ingo Warnke’s project Kommunikationsraum documenta12 (»Communicational space documenta12«) in Kassel.
    • (In German:) Hausendorf, Heiko (Hg.) (2007): Vor dem Kunstwerk. Interdisziplinäre Aspekte des Sprechens und Schreibens über Kunst. Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink. (Verlagsinformationen)
    • (In German:) Müller, Marcus: Geschichte – Kunst – Nation. Die sprachliche Konstituierung einer ‘deutschen’ Kunstgeschichte aus diskursanalytischer Sicht. Berlin, New York: de Gruyter. (Verlagsinformationen)


Key questions of the domain of knowledge Art – Art Market – Art History are:

  • How is the discourse on art designed linguistically?
  • What terms are differentiated between in the public discourse on art?
  • What kinds of linguistic resources are used to coin these terms, by whom and to what end are they coined?
  • How and how successfully is the (at times hermetic) insider discourse of the art market translated linguistically to the public?
  • How do group identities get created through the (historic and present) linguistic mediation of art?

The project Kommunikationsraum documenta12 relates these questions to the documenta of 2007 with reference to the varying functions and interests of the partaking participants (leaders and organisers of the exhibition, artists, media people, visitors).