dhr. dr. O.J.M. (Olav) Velthuis

  • Faculteit der Maatschappij- en Gedragswetenschappen
    Programmagroep: Dynamics of Citizenship and Culture
  • Nieuwe Achtergracht  166
    1018 WV  Amsterdam
  • O.J.M.Velthuis@uva.nl
    T:  0205253579


Olav Velthuis is Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the University of Amsterdam. At the department, he is director of the master programs. Before, he worked for several years as a Staff Reporter Globalization for the Dutch daily de Volkskrant . He is currently studying the emergence and development of art markets in the BRIC-countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). The project is financed by a VIDI-grant from the Dutch Science Foundation (NWO). His research interests include economic sociology, sociology of art, cultural sociology and sociology of consumption.

Velthuis is the author of Imaginary Economics (NAi Publishers, 2005) and Talking Prices. Symbolic Meanings of Prices on the Market for Contemporary Art (Princeton University Press, 2005), which received the Viviana Zelizer Distinguished Book Award of the American Sociological Association for the best book in economic sociology (2006). Together with Maria Lind of Tensta Konsthall (Stockholm), he recently edited the book Contemporary Art and Its Commercial Markets A Report on Current Conditions and Future Scenarios (Sternberg Press, 2012).

Velthuis' academic work has appeared in leading journals in social science including Theory & Society, Socio-Economic Review, Economy & Society and the Journal of Cultural Economics. His journalistic writings have appeared in among others Artforum, the Art Newspaper and the Financial Times. His work has been cited in international media including Newsweek, Die Zeit, Corriere della Sera, The Independent, Il Sole 24 Ore, the FreakonomicsBlog of the New York Times, and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Velthuis is member of the editorial board of Sociologie. He was board member of the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture (Fonds BKVB), which was the main government-sponsored foundation for visual artists in the Netherlands. 

How do art markets emerge?

Since the late 1990s, markets for contemporary art have emerged rapidly outside of Europe and the United States . However, no systematic, in-depth study of the globalization of art markets exist. This research project is the first to analyze comparatively how the art markets of Brazil , Russia , India and China (BRIC) emerge, develop and integrate into a global art market. The project is funded by a large, so called VIDI-grant of the Dutch Science Foundation (NWO). In order to study the art markets in the BRIC-countries, a research team of the University of Amsterdam will conduct among others many interviews with key market players, execute a survey, and compile a large data-set which trace the careers of thousands of artists from the BRIC-countries. What are the differences between the way the art market functions in these four countries? How can European and American market players learn from developments in these countries andvice versa? What contributes to a succesfull career for a contemporary artist? How are artistic value and economic value correlated within these markets?

Research team

The team consists of four researchers affiliated with the University of Amsterdam, who are experts in their fields and fluent in the languages spoken in the four BRIC markets. Velthuis, the principal investigator, has conducted research on art markets for over 15 years. One of his previous books on the New York and Amsterdam art market, Talking Prices was referred to in the American magazine Newsweek as " the best study of what art spending means " and received a prestigious award from the American Sociological Association. He writings on art markets have appeared in among others The Art Newspaper, Artforum and the Financial Times .


The research team seeks to disseminate its research results, not only through publications in academic journals but also through writings for mainstream professional media. A sample can be downloaded below.

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