CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

About History Press Release Sessions Schedule Activities Participants Venue Discussion Registration Closed


LEE, Seunghyun
"Consumer Society, Neoliberalism, and Contemporary Art Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, and Felix Gonzalez-Torres "

Session 16 Commodity and Market


While capitalism was at its height in the sixties, recent capitalist society after the introduction of neoliberal policies has suffered from periodic financial crisis and the fruits of its so-called development have benefitted only a few. This thesis aims to uncover how the socio-economic change between these two periods influenced artists and their works. Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, and Feliz Gonzalez-Torres are the artists closely related to this subject. Warhol, as a predecessor to the other two, revealed both how consumer society works and how people behave in that environment by mirroring and repeating the surface images of consumer society. His movies suggest that we need to slow down the speed of our daily lives in order to recover the depth and density our lives. Hirst, on the other hand, created works on death to deal with the deteriorated condition of life in the neoliberal capitalist era. His most famous work, For the Love of God, resembles the current economic crisis and alarms us that the “diamond will finally lead us to death.” In the case of Gonzalez-Torres, he believed that what contemporary art truly needed was a war against the institution. He chose to call his strategy of planting a virus within the institution “a fragile truce.”

LEE, Seunghyun

Mr. Seung-hyun Lee is a PhD student and also a lecturer at Hongik University’s Art History Department. As a board member of Taekwang Seonhwa Art and Culture Foundation (2008~current), he organized several exhibitions for the foundation. He also organized other exhibitions including government-sponsored area-wide exhibitions at three venues (Asia Publishing Center, Dorasan Rail Station, and Panmunjeom) ,“Paju Peace Station”(2014), and a museum-wide exhibition at the Busan Museum of Art, “Korean Art: Era of Grand Navigation”(2013). He got a BA degree in Economics at the Seoul National University, and got a MA degree in Art History at Hongik University. He started his career in the financial industry in 1987, and during the Asian financial crisis of 1998, he provided risk management consulting services to major financial institutions in Korea. With the knowledge of economics and business, he conducts research on what art can do for the people and what the real value of art is in this contemporary world. Inspired by the global financial crisis, he currently investigates the influence of neoliberal capitalism and globalization on artists and their works. He is especially interested in the role of contemporary art in the situation of a global crisis. His publication includes the translation of Social Credit by Clifford H. Douglas into Korean.