Keynote Speaker:
Isabelle Graw: The Value of PaintingStaatliche Hochschule für bildende Künste, (Städelschule) Frankfurt am Main

Painting is usually associated with various aesthetic, emotional, symbolic and economic values. In this talk, “Painting” refers to all those (often non-painterly) artistic practices that employ the picture on canvas in manifold ways. Graw will examine the commodity value of painting, considering paintings as unique material objects that nourish a fantasy that their value is substantial and contained within them—valuable because of their specific materiality, and because of the sphere of reception painting exists within.

Graw will argue that despite their materiality, paintings can’t be reduced to their economic dimension; although the luxury industry in particular has tried to learn from painting in recent years, painting’s intellectual prestige has been growing since the early modern times, adding to their status as ideal commodities.


Isabelle Graw is a professor of art theory and art history at the Staatliche Hochschule für bildende Künste (Städelschule) Frankfurt am Main, where she co-founded the Institute of Art Criticism. She is an art critic and co-founder of Texte zur Kunst in Berlin. She has edited and contributed to many important books on the medium of painting, most notably Painting Beyond Itself: The Medium in the Post-Medium Condition (Sternberg Press, 2016) and Thinking through Painting. Reflexivity and Agency beyond the Canvas (Sternberg Press, 2012). Her forthcoming book The Love of Painting: Genealogy of a Success Medium aims to establish where painting can be seen today and to reconstruct the historical origins of its current popularity.

Isabelle Graw is a guest of the Goethe Institute. Her talk is made possible with support from the Audain Endowment for Curatorial Studies through the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at the University of British Columbia.