Bound by Creativity
How Contemporary Art Is Created and Judged
What is creativity? While our traditional view of creative work might lead us to think of artists as solitary visionaries, the creative process is profoundly influenced by social interactions even when artists work alone. Sociologist Hannah Wohl draws on more than one hundred interviews and two years of ethnographic research in the New York contemporary art market to develop a rich sociological perspective of creativity. From inside the studio, we see how artists experiment with new ideas and decide which works to abandon, destroy, put into storage, or exhibit. Wohl then transports readers into the art world, where we discover how artists’ understandings of their work are shaped through interactions in studio visits, galleries, international art fairs, and collectors’ homes.
Bound by Creativity reveals how artists develop conceptions of their distinctive creative visions through experimentation and social interactions. Ultimately, we come to appreciate how judgment is integral to the creative process, both resulting in the creation of original works while also limiting an artist’s ability to break new ground. Exploring creativity through the lens of judgment sheds new light on the production of cultural objects, markets, and prestige.