In this digital age, declarations surface on the death of the expert and the democratization of information. Crowd wisdom is seen as the new guide in constructing and evaluating knowledge. In the context of the art world, this tension between the amateurs and the experts becomes particularly pronounced as popular meets high culture. Questions arise such as what is the role of the expert in the evaluation of art in current times? Do social media dismantle age-old hierarchies and established priesthoods in the art world? And can we assume that mass participation in valuation result in better judgments? This paper addresses such popular notions on participation and expertise concerning social media in the art world through a historical lens by re-examining and positioning art experts from past to present. Particularly, characteristics of intermediaries in the art market are looked at closely and their strategies in knowledge production and establishment of expertise. This historical situatedness enables us to move beyond the hype of new media expectations, generating more appropriate avenues of investigation to better grasp possible changes amongst actors within the contemporary art world. This examination is not just theoretically relevant but practically so, given current pressures on art institutions to embrace and reach out to new audiences online.

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ERMeCC - Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and Culture
Information, Communication and Society
Department of Media and Communication

Arora, P., & Vermeylen, F. (2013). The end of the art connoisseur?
Experts and knowledge production in the visual arts in the digital age. Information, Communication and Society, 16(2), 194–214. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2012.687392