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Jeremy Tanner Cultural Sociology 2010 4: 231 DOI: 10.1177/1749975510368474 The online version of this article can be found at: http://cus.sagepub.com/content/4/2/231

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Cultural Sociology
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Michael Baxandall and the Sociological Interpretation of Art


I

Jeremy Tanner
University College London, UK

A B S T R AC T

Art historian Michael Baxandalls writings have played a key role in defining the major paradigms in the sociology of art: the production of culture perspective, Bourdieus critical sociology of art, Hennion and DeNoras new sociology of art. Although making fruitful use of Baxandalls focus on markets, material visual practices and the concept of the period eye, these appropriations have overlooked the centrality to Baxandalls work of the concept of art as an institution. This institutional focus permits Baxandall to integrate social, cultural and visual analysis in a way which shows not only how visual art is socially constructed, but also how it plays an active role in the construction of social orders on a variety of levels of emergence, from the interaction order to larger social structures.
K E Y WO R D S

aesthetics / art history / Pierre Bourdieu / Michael Baxandall / cultural production / new sociology of art / sociology of culture

[T]he style of pictures is a proper material of social history. Social facts ... lead to the development of distinctive skills and habits: and these visual skills and habits become identifiable elements in the painters style A fifteenth century painting is the deposit of a social relationship. (Baxandall, 1972: x, 1) There are a whole lot of things the book is not about and one of these is the sociology of art let me say now that when I am told the book is inadequate as a sociology of art I shall be unmoved. (Baxandall, 1985a: viii)

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Introduction
The death of Michael Baxandall in 2008 certainly represented a significant loss for the community of art historians. As a pupil of Ernst Gombrich, and a former student of the Warburg School, Baxandall was perhaps the last great representative of the intellectual spirit represented by the Warburg tradition. But Baxandalls legacy is one which is of equal importance to the sociology of art, and, at the close of an extraordinarily fruitful career, it is perhaps now an appropriate moment to reflect on and assess the character of that legacy. No art historian has exercised so much influence on the development of the sociology of art in the last 30 years as Baxandall. His interest in markets and patronage made him a natural point of reference for work in the production of culture perspective, such as Howard Beckers (1982) Art Worlds. His efforts to formulate a general theoretical model for the historical explanation of pictures have been a major influence on a number of attempts to construct systematic methodologies in the sociology of culture, and indeed beyond, from Wendy Griswolds classic A Methodological Framework for the Sociology of Culture (1987a) to Richard Biernackis (2005) more recent attempt to formulate a problemsolving model of social action to replace the means-end model characteristic of most work in historical sociology.1 Baxandalls period eye concept has spawned notions of the gendered eye and the contextual eye, among others, informing sociological studies of literature (Griswold, 1987b), public art (Babon, 2006) and interaction in art museums (Heath and Vom Lehn, 2004). Painting and Experience impressed Pierre Bourdieu sufficiently to be the focus of a special issue of Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales (Bourdieu and Desault, 1981a, 1981b) and Bourdieu returned to Baxandall in his last great study in the sociology of art, The Rules of Art (1996). More recently, Antoine Hennion has invoked Baxandall as a theoretical model, and guiding spirit, in what has been called the new sociology of art, characterized by a focus on the materiality of art works themselves and their specifically aesthetic properties and effects (De La Fuente, 2007). But behind this almost universal approval lie several major paradoxes. First, as the quotations at the head of this article suggest, Baxandall himself manifests a very high level of ambivalence about the social, and its place in the understanding of art. On the one hand we have the Durkheimian rhetoric of the introductory statements in Painting and Experience; on the other, the almost complete disavowal of sociological pretensions in Patterns of Intention. Second, Baxandalls work serves as a model for approaches to the sociology of art that are, on the face of it, incompatible. Bourdieu (1996: 2045), for example, explicitly takes issue with the work of Howard Becker and his followers in the production of culture paradigm. In turn, Hennions art-sociology is openly formulated as an attack on Bourdieus critical sociology of art (Hennion, 1995; Hennion and Grennier, 2001). Third, within the field of art history, Baxandall is not regarded as a social historian of art at all, but rather as the founder of the visual culture paradigm, which has facilitated the integration of art history into

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the larger field of cultural studies (Clunas, 2003; Jay, 2002: 271); not, one might have thought, a path which the sociology of art would wish to follow. This article seeks to assess the legacy of Michael Baxandall to the sociology of art against this apparently contradictory background. The first part sketches an outline of Baxandalls main arguments in Painting and Experience. My intention, however, is not to offer an orthodox account of the real Michael Baxandall, but rather to establish a base line against which to explore the radically divergent appropriations of Baxandalls work made by different schools within the sociology of art, and indeed art history. Reading Baxandall through these refracting lenses brings out in a more analytically explicit manner certain strands of theoretical argumentation which often remain implicit in Baxandalls own work, embedded in his detailed analysis of specific historical cases. Further, placing each of these frameworks in particular Bourdieus critical sociology and the new sociology of art of Hennion and DeNora in close comparison with Baxandalls studies illustrates certain respects in which his work, far from having been simply absorbed and superseded, still has lessons to offer us today. The final section of the article draws on Baxandalls Limewood Sculptors of Renaissance Germany (1980) a work surprisingly overlooked by most sociologists of art to argue that Baxandall develops an institutional approach which has the potential coherently to integrate dimensions of analysis currently split across competing paradigms into a fully historical sociology of art.

Painting and Social Experience: Art and Society in the Work of Michael Baxandall
In three brief chapters, Painting and Experience (1972) seeks to demonstrate Baxandalls claim that the style of pictures is a proper material of social history. The first chapter, Conditions of Trade, shows how the social and economic organization of artistic production, evidenced by contracts, is manifested in the visual character of quattrocento art and painting. Some patrons chose to pay by the foot, others according to the time spent by the painter, and the materials he used; the character and quality of the paintings they received match their implicit assumptions about the character of the work that painting entailed (1972: 1). Different types of commission entailed different types of control, from the relatively direct control and detailed supervision manifested in the contracts between painters and individual private clients princes, priors, ordinary citizens to the rather incomplete lay control exercised on the employees of large communal enterprises, sculptors like Donatello working on the Cathedral in Florence, under the administrative control of the Wool Guild (1972: 5). Conspicuous material consumption could be harmonized with the ostensibly religious motivations of most commissions through the use of specific materials. For example, the importance of the Virgin Mary in a painting, and the donors piety, might be registered through the use of costly ultramarine to give her cloak a striking blue immediately recognizable to contemporary viewers (1972: 11). Status distinction shaped

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the ways in which patrons chose to display their munificence, shifting from an emphasis on pure materiality to one on skill. Carefully depicted landscapes replaced gold as the preferred backdrop to figure paintings when members of the established elite sought to distance themselves from the newly wealthy by adopting more cultivated, less flashy, modes of display, informed by humanist thought and ascetic strands of contemporary religious culture (1972: 1415). As Baxandall emphasizes, these relationships, and the choices made by both patrons and painters, all operated within institutions and conventions, which helped to articulate the patrons demands for an altarpiece, frescoes for a family chapel, a Madonna for the bedroom and to formulate briefs for the artist in highly routinized ways (1972: 13). Looking at paintings was also a fifteenth century Italian institution and involved in the institution were certain expectations (1972: 33), not least that the viewer be able to appreciate the character and level of the increasingly highly valued skill manifested by an artist in a painting. The social and institutional character of viewing, and its impact on pictorial practice, is the focus of Baxandalls famous chapter on The Period Eye. Baxandall starts from the simple point that the kinds of cognitive skills with which viewers are endowed will significantly inflect the ways they attend to a picture. A viewer skilled in noting proportional relationships or practised in reducing complex forms to compounds of simple forms may order his experience of Domenico Venezianos Annunciation differently from people without those skills, and perhaps to greater effect than, for example, a contemporary German viewer, richly endowed with very different sets of perceptual skills, for classifying the modulating width of lines characteristic of the penmanship of the Modists, the writing teachers who played such a significant role in 15th-century German education. Much of what we call taste lies in this, the conformity between discriminations demanded by a painting and skills of discrimination possessed by the beholder (1972: 34). A large part of the chapter is given over to identifying exactly which skills informed the viewing and making of paintings and why. Particularly important from a sociological point of view is Baxandalls emphasis on the different social factors which acted as a filter on the vast range of perceptual skills which could potentially have been relevant to painting. They tend to be skills which have been taught in a formal educational setting of one kind or another, and as such are skills which can be talked about. Such skills are valued by those who have learned them both for their practical value and as markers of their bearers social status; and, of course, they characterized the patronizing classes. Of these skills, unlike skills absorbed early in childhood, their bearers are relatively self-conscious and self-aware, making such skills particularly susceptible to transfer in situations such as that of a man in front of a picture (1972: 378). Further, the skills selected are or can be made relevant to pictorial organization, and thus a means by which the painter can display skill and the viewer appreciate it. Among the skills which Baxandall identifies as relevant are those derived from gauging and from dancing. In a world before standardized

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containers, the flow of commerce was heavily dependent on the ability of parties to a transaction swiftly and reliably to calculate the volumes contained in particular containers. This they achieved through the skills they had acquired in breaking down complex shapes into combinations of more simple geometrical forms, reliably estimating the ratios of their proportions, and on that basis establishing the quantity of a material being offered for exchange. The same skills were of use to painters in composing paintings, whether designing complex pictorial figures, or creating a coherent perspectival space, preserving the proper ratios between the volumes of comparable bodies depicted at different virtual depths in the pictorial field. The mathematics and geometry which underpinned these skills were learned by both painters and commodity traders in the secondary school or abbaco (1972: 86101). Dance in Renaissance Italy was highly formalized. Like visual art, dance was the subject of theoretical reflection and literary codification. Different aspects of dance were categorized in terms of a vocabulary aere, manieria, misura which was also relevant to painting. Treatises described the movements of participants in dance as figure patterns which expressed the relationships articulated between the dance partners, as Jealousy or Desire for instance. This manner of conceptualizing and visualizing dance patterns offered a means to painters seeking to depict the interrelationship between figures in a narrative painting, in such a way that the tone of the interaction would be legible to viewers, even if they were unfamiliar with the specific narrative. Practical familiarity with such figural patterns and their classification, whether as participants or spectators at dances, offered a basis on which viewers could both comment on and bodily feel themselves into such depicted interactions (1972: 7781). The transfer of these cultural schemes from their primary institutional settings into the institution of art was facilitated by the shared social and educational culture of artists and patrons, and also by the relatively low level of differentiation, and high degree of interpenetration, between such institutional domains as painting and commodity trading. The painter Piero della Francesca, for example, was also the author of a treatise, De Abaco, in which the same analytical skills which he might use in composing paintings structured in terms of appropriately proportioned volumes were retailed to businessmen to help them in their practice of gauging (1972: 87). The activity of looking at pictures was also institutional in a second and deeper sense. Pictures existed to meet institutional ends and in Renaissance Italy those ends were primarily religious (1972: 4043). An established tradition of ecclesiastical theory defined the ends of painting as the instruction of the people; making the story of the incarnation and the examples of the saints lives active in believers memories, through daily encounters; and, as expressed in one standard contemporary tract, to excite feelings of devotion, these being aroused more effectively by things seen than by things heard (1972: 41). Painters were thus understood to be professional visualizers of the stories of the Bible and the saints, and both painters and viewers were rehearsed in the appropriate emotional categorization of particular stories by sermons, which instructed their

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hearers in the appropriate sensations of piety for specific stories: humility and joy in the Nativity, benignity and maternity for the Visitation. Viewers responsiveness was further shaped and intensified by what Baxandall calls an active institution of interior visualization (1972: 45). The Garden of Prayer, a devotional tract for young girls, encourages its readers to prepare themselves for prayer by trying to visualize the story of the Passion: their own city can serve as a model for Jerusalem, and places they know within it for the room where the Last Supper was held, or the palace of Pilate. Similarly, they should people this setting with the dramatis personae of the biblical narrative, each visualized after personal acquaintances. With their mind well stocked with images, readers of The Garden might retire to their bedroom and start meditating on the Passion, starting with how Jesus entered Jerusalem on the ass. Moving slowly from episode to episode, meditate on each one, dwelling on each single stage and step of the story. And if at any point you feel a sensation of piety, stop: do not pass on as long as that sweet and devout sentiment lasts. Such devotional practices reciprocally informed the viewing of paintings, allowing the viewer to fill in sometimes sketchy and generalized depictions of place and people offered by painters with concrete images drawn from the viewers own life (1972: 468). Viewing, it follows, was not a simple decoding of a meaning intrinsic to a painting the iconographic approach which is repeatedly the object of Baxandalls criticism. Nor were the visual features of paintings the expression of class ideologies, as facile equations between burgess or aristocratic milieux on the one side and realist or idealizing styles on the other might suggest (1972: 152 a dig at the social histories of art of Frederik Antal and Arnold Hauser, of course). Rather, paintings offered viewers visual affordances which geared with the sets of practical dispositions, described by Baxandall, with which Renaissance viewers were endowed. The interaction between viewing practices and pictorial affordances permitted viewers to generate and reinforce the sentiments and attachments which informed the many areas of social life which religion (and religious art) penetrated. As my brief summary suggests, Baxandalls Painting and Experience is about as sociological as one might wish. Particularly striking, in addition to his concern for social practice, is the emphasis on the concept of institution, among his key concepts probably second in frequency of use only to style. We turn now to look at how far, and in what ways, Baxandalls framework for articulating the relationship between art and its social contexts has been appropriated in subsequent scholarship.

Not the Social History of Art: Michael Baxandall and Visual Culture
Against the background of the role played by concepts of institution and social practice in his work, it may come as something of a surprise to sociologists to

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discover that, as far as art historians are concerned, Baxandall is not particularly closely associated with the social history of art (Clunas, 2003). Painting and Experience was not well received by social historians of art mainly Marxists of one shade or another who complained that it ignored issues of class, ideology and power (Langdale, 1999: 2831). T. J. Clark, for example, dismissed Baxandalls use of the category of experience as the code word for a kind of art history which feels the need to refer to those historical realities with which artist and patron are constantly in contact, but which dares not name those structures which mediate and determine the nature of that contact ideology, class, the conflict between classes, the contradictions within any ideological view of the world (Clark, 1976, quoted in Langdale, 1999: 29). Instead, art historians normally place Baxandall within what has come to be known as the visual culture paradigm. Baxandall used the term in Limewood Sculptors (1980: 145), and it was taken up by Svetlana Alpers to describe her own account of the visual practices cartography, optical science and so on which informed 17th-century Dutch painting (Alpers, 1983). The term resonated well with the cultural turn which informed the humanities, like the social sciences, in the 1980s and 1990s (Sewell, 2005: 2280), and has crystallized as a major paradigm in contemporary art history. The visual culture approach defines itself very much against the social history of art (Clunas, 2003), and differs from it in two key respects. First, its remit includes all visual images, not just the canonical great works of art which have been the focus of the social history of art. Second, the social, far from being a central analytical category, increasingly becomes somewhat marginal, displaced by or dissolved into linguistic concepts and styles of analysis drawn from French post-structuralist thought (Bryson et al., 1994; Jay, 2002). As John Tagg (1994: 96), once a rather straightforwardly Marxist social historian of art, has put it in one of the key visual culture manifestos: if the social exists, it is only as a temporary and unstable domination of the field of discursivity the social is culture and culture is language or language-like all the way down. Within recent art history, Baxandalls work has been read through this poststructuralist lens. Such a reading emphasizes that from his earliest studies Baxandall was interested above all in the relationship between language and the visual. His first book, Giotto and the Orators (1971), for example, had looked at the humanist invention of art criticism in early Renaissance Italy, drawing on the models derived from ancient Greek and Roman rhetoric, and it explored how such critical discourse informed contemporary artistic practice. Baxandall, we are told, has been as sensitive as Derrida to the incapacity of language to make contact with its referent (Holly, 1999: 6). This sensitivity is particularly manifest in later contributions like Patterns of Intention, where Baxandall argues that art history does not explain pictures as such but remarks about pictures, which are representations of [the art historians] thought about having seen pictures (1985a: 1). Even if he does not mention them, Adrian Rifkin argues (1999: 12), Baxandall should be seen as belonging to the same period discursivity as Derrida and Foucault.

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Michael Baxandall and the Production of Culture


Sociological readings of Baxandall have, of course, had a radically different character. But the range of different positions his approach has been drawn upon to articulate indicates something of the richness, or arguably the ambiguity, of his analytical framework. It is perhaps unsurprising that both of Baxandalls major empirical case studies, Painting and Experience and The Limewood Sculptors, should have loaned themselves so well to the intellectual project of the production of culture perspective. But Baxandall is more a source of examples than a theoretical influence, and in certain respects the production of culture reading of Baxandall as a model for the sociology of art is rather thin. In Art Worlds (1982), Howard Becker repeatedly draws on Baxandalls work to illustrate his thesis that art is not the special creation of individual geniuses, but the mundane product of networks of cooperation. A contract between Ghirlandaio and a client, specifying the quality of ultramarine pigment at four florins per ounce (Baxandall, 1972: 6), Becker comments (1982: 15), resembles the contract one might make with a builder, specifying the quality of steel and concrete to be used. Baxandall also provides Becker with material to articulate his ideas about the role of conventions in mediating the interactions between participants in art worlds, and in marking their boundaries: the place of geometry in Renaissance painting, for example, or the painters and viewers knowledge of the emotional significance of the different phases of the Annunciation, mediated through priests sermons (Becker, 1982: 4650). Notwithstanding the use they make of these aspects of Baxandalls work, authors from within the production of culture perspective consistently criticize his approach because the art works under consideration remain central, rather than the social context, which is held to be the proper object of analysis for sociologists (Zolberg, 1990: 55). Victoria Alexander, in her recent textbook, offers Baxandall as an exemplar of the quintessentially art historical formalist approach (2003: 2525, 2737), using Baxandalls account of the period eye as an example. The kind of formal analysis entailed in the reconstruction of the period eye may, Alexander suggests, allow us more fully to appreciate the paintings or sculptures of a particular period, but in focussing on works, rather than examining people, the ultimate meaning makers, directly, it lacks the methodological rigour and explanatory value characteristic of more properly sociological studies (2003: 252, 274).2 Such a reading of Baxandall is by no means entirely without basis. Even in Painting and Experience, he oscillates between a more thoroughgoing sociological conception of art as a social fact and a weaker one, in which the social functions as a background or context whereby noticing bits of social practice or convention ... may sharpen our perception of pictures (1972: 151), not a very structural conception of the social to say the least. This tendency to disengage from any systematic concern with the social structuring of art becomes particularly marked in Patterns of Intention, perhaps in part as a response to the criticisms of social historians of art.

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In the first chapter of Patterns of Intention (1985a), Baxandall describes the heterogeneous circumstances which informed the brief for the design of the Forth Rail Bridge by Benjamin Baker from the Tay Bridge disaster, to sidewinds, the tensile strength of Siemens open hearth steel, the demands of the railway companies, and the Victorian money markets. Where the bridge-builders role is clear span! that of the painter is less well-defined, and Baxandall initially stipulates the rather general notion of making marks on a surface in such a way that their visual interest is directed towards an end (1985a: 43). Baxandall recognizes that exactly how visual interest is directed towards an end may vary, according to the social and cultural setting invoking the kind of religious art he had discussed in Painting and Experience as an instance (1985a: 434). But he chooses to formulate the relationship between painters and their larger environment in terms of troc, a barter primarily of mental goods in a market (1985a: 479). The more structured models, offered by the social history of art and sociology or as Baxandall puts it, offered by various versions of Ideology (1985a: viii) offer nothing to his project. If one is addressing pictures, not social history, and if one is doing inferential criticism from other than economic determinist convictions, there is little critical yield to be derived from exploring the broader social contexts of production of, say, Picassos Portrait of Kahnweiler or Braques The Portuguese, whether the class social differences between Picasso and Braque, the institutional isomorphisms between art galleries and other retail organizations in early 20th-century Paris, or the socio-economic base of Gertrude Stein (1985a: 57). So much for sociology. But as I have already implied in my earlier summary, Painting and Experience offers good grounds for challenging the art and society polarity which Baxandall reverts to in this later work a polarity shared, from the other side of the fence as it were, by reductionist critical sociologies of art, like the production of culture perspective, which seek to replace the aesthetic by the social (Hennion and Grennier, 2001: 3414). As we shall see in some detail below, Baxandalls early work has been a major source in challenging this dualism in recent sociologies of art influenced by the sociology of science and actor network theory (ANT).

From Painting and Experience to the Theory of Practice: Bourdieu on Baxandall


The work of Pierre Bourdieu evinces a more profound dialogue with Baxandall than studies in the production of culture perspective. Where Becker drew inspiration primarily from chapter 1 of Painting and Experience (Conditions of Trade), for Bourdieu it was the third chapter, The Period Eye, which became the object of sustained theoretical reflection. Bourdieu was already well read in the history of art when he came across Baxandall. In particular a close engagement with the classic studies of Erwin Panofsky in iconography and iconology were of fundamental importance to the development of Bourdieus sociology of

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art and indeed his social theory more generally (Tanner, 2003: 2021). Panofskys account of the iconographic methodology for decoding the meaning of works of art formed a crucial starting point for the development of Bourdieus account of the ways in which knowledge of artistic codes could function as a form of cultural capital, offering privileged social groups an emblem of cultural distinction and a tool in strategies of class reproduction (Bourdieu, 1968). Still more significantly, the concept of habitus, which plays a central role in Bourdieus attempt to transcend the intentionalism of action theories and the objectivism of structuralisms, was taken from Panofskys classic Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism, where it described the intellectual habit, inculcated in schools, which shaped practices from philosophical argumentation and musical notation systems to the design of Gothic vaulting (Bourdieu, 1967; Panofsky, 1951). Against this background, reading Baxandall represented something of an epiphany for Bourdieu. With Yves Deslaut he translated the Period Eye chapter of Painting and Experience for a special issue of Actes de la Recherche en Sciences Sociales on the social history and sociology of art, prefaced with a substantial commentary (Bourdieu and Deslaut, 1981). The ongoing importance of Baxandalls model to Bourdieu is well indicated by the fact that he included a slightly revised version of this essay as one of the chapters of his major study in the sociology of art, The Rules of Art (1996: 313 21). Bourdieu saw Baxandalls perspective as a means by which he might exorcize the traces of intellectualism characteristic of his theory of practice as it stood in the late 1970s, partly shaped by Panofskys ideas (1996: 313 14). Baxandalls study demonstrated to Bourdieu that engagement with art entailed not the kind of self-conscious decoding described by Panofsky, but a practical sense according to which social experience and social action were largely mediated through a body trained in the system of schemas of perception and appreciation, of judgement and pleasure, which were acquired through the practices of daily life, listening to sermons, gauging bolts of cloth or sacks of grain, participating in dances (1996: 318). The work of art operates not so much through encoding ideas which the informed viewer can decode as through its power to call up experiences buried in the folds of the body (1996: 320). Bourdieu draws particular attention to the devastating implications of Baxandalls work for traditional conceptions of art as a kind of embodiment of Weltanschauung, implicit in Panofskys iconological methodology and characteristic of hermeneutic approaches in the humanities more widely. But the implications of Baxandalls work went deeper than the history and sociology of art. Painting and Experience, Bourdieu argued, offered an exemplary instance of the reconstruction of the specific logic of practical sense, of which aesthetic sense is a particular case (1996: 315). Bourdieu had been exploring this logic of sensory knowledge since his early studies of Kabyle society. Such sensory knowledge, he argues, is mediated through embodied practical schemas which involve no detour through conscious conceptual thought, as they are invested directly by actors in the material world

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of objects. Due to the intellectualist blinkers of traditional social theory and contemporary semiology, Bourdieu felt he had been unable fully to transpose these insights gained from his Kabyle studies into the context of the cultural production of a complex capitalist society until he encountered the work of Baxandall (1996: 31415). Bourdieu offers a succinct and generally very acute account of many of Baxandalls key ideas. He draws particular attention to the ways in which what we might think of as being radically discrepant dimensions of pictorial perception the privileging of Mary as the mother of Christ and recognition of the varying cost of different qualities of ultramarine blue pigment are intimately linked in the unity of a habitus in which the religious dispositions of the churchgoer are completely merged with the dispositions of a businessman accustomed to the immediate calculation of quantities and prices (1996: 319). But even in summarizing Baxandalls account of quattrocento painting, Bourdieu transforms it within the reductionist logic of his own conceptual scheme.3 To love a painting, for an Italian Renaissance viewer, Bourdieu argues (1996: 31920; emphases in original), is to find a dividend there, to recover an outlay, getting something for ones money, in the form of the richest colours, the most obviously costly pictorial technique. There is also a supplementary satisfaction in the artwork, finding oneself in it entirely, recognizing oneself, finding in the painting ones world and ones relationship with the world. Aesthetic pleasure, in short, is a kind of social narcissism, an illusion produced by the free play of the habitus, temporarily disengaged from the real social world. The kinds of practical schemas which have their real roots, and afford their real profits, in more fundamental institutional fields freewheel in a kind of magical but socially meaningless harmony, incited by the objectified forms of the artwork perfectly adapted to the formal logic of those schemas. Aesthetic pleasure is an epiphenomenon of social structure, rather than constitutive of it; it leaves the world as it is. This is a drastically reduced account of the concepts of an institution of art and of aesthetic pleasure found in Baxandall, collapsing the institutional embedding of quattrocento art in the religious field into rather narrowly material interests of key patronizing classes. More specifically it ignores the refraction of the social interests of patrons and viewers through the religious institutions in which Renaissance art patronage and consumption were embedded, and in particular the active institution of interior visualization through which the aesthetic forms of art works exercised their specific material agency, acting as affordances in the creation of the affect proper to devotional viewing (Baxandall, 1972: 4048). It is precisely this value-added character of the aesthetic mediation of social practices, the material agency of art in constituting social order rather than merely reproducing it, that has been the focus of some of the most stimulating work in the new sociology of art. Once again it is Baxandall, read very differently than by Bourdieu, who has provided a key point of reference in formulating the new paradigm.

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Michael Baxandall and Aesthetic Agency: Constructing the New Sociology of Art
The most recent turn in the sociology of art, christened the new sociology of art by Eduardo De La Fuente (2007), has defined itself very much in opposition to Bourdieus critical sociology of art. This new direction of research focusses less on the social background and determinations of art works and aesthetic practices and more on the specifically aesthetic constitutive work which such objects and practices perform when contextualized in artistic and other social fields. Baxandalls Painting and Experience has offered an important model in the development of this new approach, as indicated by one of its foremost advocates, Antoine Hennion. Hennion (1995, 2007) sees Baxandalls work as representing the culmination of a trend within the social history of art initiated by Wackernagel (1981 [1938]) and continued most notably in the work of Francis Haskell (Haskell, 1980 [1965]; Haskell and Penny, 1981). Hennion argues that this approach is based on a double refusal. First, it refuses the opposition between internalist history of art (focussing on the autonomous evolution of style) and externalist history of art (focussing on patronage and the art market as a kind of background to the history of style an approach very close to what was to be developed as the production of culture perspective in sociology). Second, it refuses the dualistic conception of art and society.4 Instead, it investigates all the intermediaries between the work of art and the broader context subsumed under the concept society: patrons, collectors, dealers, critics, guilds, studios, artistic techniques and technologies, the heterogeneous, partial and encased assemblage of humans, relationships, associations and institutions (Hennion, 1995: 242). By drawing on this tradition, Baxandall was able, Hennion argues, to replace the grand but largely intuitive parallelisms drawn between artistic forms and cultural mentalities (exemplified by Dvoraks art history as the history of ideas, or Panofskys classic iconological study of perspective), or between style and social structure (exemplified by the work of Arnold Hauser and Frederick Antal), with a micro-sociology of cultural practices. In particular he is able to analyse how practices grounded in radically heterogeneous social orders inform the visual dispositions which viewers bring to works of art, and how, reciprocally, such dispositions are translated into artistic styles (Hennion, 1995: 2478). Baxandalls approach, Hennion suggests, is in many respects the antithesis of Bourdieus critical sociology, in which art, the artist and the artlover are merely passive intermediaries for larger social determinations which have their raison detre elsewhere. The mediations brought to light by Baxandalls analysis reveal the moment of the work of art in its performative character (Hennion and Grennier, 2001: 346). That is to say, the art work is not merely the end product of a series of causal determinations but itself has an active character, coproducing aesthetic pleasure and the formation of specific sensibilities in cooperation with the interpretive practices of viewers and listeners. The focus of analysis is on precisely these mediatory devices and practices by

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means of which aesthetic logics (material properties of visual or musical style for example) are transposed into logics characteristic of other forms of social order and vice versa (Hennion and Grennier, 2001: 350). In place of the stable and necessary relationship between self-enclosed works and pre-existing social orders characteristic of critical sociologies of art, Hennion calls for an ethnography of practices of taste, in which objects, subjects and social groupings are coproduced as conjunctural and hence changing socio-cultural formations (Gomart and Hennion, 1999; Hennion and Grennier, 2001: 35051). Aesthetic taste, and the pleasure entailed in appreciating a work of art, is not the byproduct of an extrinsic social determination but the result of a corporeal practice, collective and instrumented, through which the distinctive properties of repertoires of objects, from wine to oil-paintings, are made intensely present to sensibilities train[ed] to perceive them (Hennion, 2007: 98, 108), exactly the kinds of practice exemplified by Baxandalls period eye concept. In the work of Hennion and DeNora, this approach derived from Baxandalls social history of art is elaborated and given in certain respects a more sharply sociological focus by drawing on theoretical perspectives derived from ethnomethodology and the sociology of science, in particular the actor network theory associated with Bruno Latour.5 DeNoras recent work in musicsociology (not sociology of music), alongside that of Hennion and his colleagues, represents the most sustained exemplification of how this research programme works in practice.6 Rather than locating meaning in the object itself, as semiotic analysis has done, DeNora places the emphasis on the formal properties of music becoming effective through processes of interaction by means of which the social is inscribed into music and reciprocally music becomes an active agent in the ordering of social life, not merely a social product as the production of culture perspective would have it (Acord and DeNora, 2008; DeNora, 2000). Eschewing broad parallelisms between musical structures and social structures (reflection theories), DeNora analyses in minute ethnographic detail how the musical affordances of specific pieces are flexibly interpreted and put to work in different everyday-life contexts. DeNora describes how in a womens clothing shop, the music of Enya, slow paced and somewhat languorous, quite literally recalibrates the embodied subjectivity of shoppers, seen to lengthen their necks and move in an almost balletic style, tuning shoppers into the image of hegemonic femininity that can be realized by purchasing the styles of clothing this particular store sells (2005: 1546). Music acts on and shapes social actors and their sensibilities, but that shaping is also in part the deliberate reflexive accomplishment of those actors, who prime themselves to be affected by the music through their configuration of the listening situation, and the specific practices through which they engage the music (Acord and DeNora, 2008: 234; DeNora, 2005: 1513). Back at the flat, curtains drawn, low lights and scented candles may facilitate the inscription of the same music into a different, though not unrelated, social scenario: a girl configures an evening with her partner as a time for slowing down at the end of a hectic day, soft, sensual and romantic; or a boy enrols Enya as an

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ally (in the ANT vocabulary), chick music, to progress a relationship towards his desired goal by musically configuring the space to afford seduction (cf. DeNora, 2000, especially 435, 50, 113). A number of the most innovative moves which DeNora makes in musicsociology are, perhaps unsurprisingly, anticipated for the sociology of visual art in Baxandalls studies of Renaissance painting and sculpture. We can see this most clearly in Baxandalls The Limewood Sculptors of Renaissance Germany (1980). The opening chapters of this study follow a familiar theoretical trail: the character of limewood; the institutional functions performed by limewood sculptures in the context of the church and its liturgies; the ways in which guild organization regulated craft production, and how the material interests entailed by such a structuring of the market were registered in the specific character of altarpieces; the period eye of the patronizing classes in 15th-century German cities, shaped by an education in extraordinarily elaborate systems of handwriting, taught by the so-called Modists, systems which inculcated a heightened sensitivity to line, its varying breadth and turnings, the character of its edges, the possibilities of flourishes. The last chapter, with the title Individuals and subheadings simply listing the names of four great limewood sculptors, does not look like obviously promising territory for sociologists. But it draws together the results of the earlier chapters in an analysis of a selection of major sculptures which demonstrates the same intimate commingling of the social and the artistic which is at the core of the new sociology of art. Particularly striking, in this chapter, are Baxandalls accounts of the coproduction of forms of subjectivity through the mutual entwinement of the specific artistic forms of sculptures and the constitutive interpretive practices of viewers in the larger institutional context of devotional viewing. It was this institutional context, with the urgent and complicated kinds of expectation and desire (1980: 153) which it involved, that facilitated the inscription of what on one level are purely calligraphic flourishes into the social interaction between viewer and object of devotion. Baxandall compares two statues by the Nuremberg sculptor Veit Stoss, a St Andrew and a St Roche (1980: 191202: figure 122, figures 1268, figures 1323). Roches saintliness had been manifested by patient and submissive suffering. Andrew (Greek andreios manly) by contrast did not submit to death even on the cross. In addition to being manifested in their body-postures and attributes, this characterological contrast is echoed in their drapery: the gravity-defying s-shaped flourishes of Andrews cloak manifest an independent energy, while their counterparts on Roche, a series of arcing edges and half-circles, framing the sore on Roches leg, droop sadly towards the ground (1980: 200203). At the same time as making a display of the artists mastery of the specific material potentialities of limewood, these flourishes profile to use DeNoras term (2000: 107) states of body and mind which mediate the devotees interaction with the saints and give it in each case a distinctive mood, appropriate to the saint in question and his modalities of action. Art and society are not in the kind of zero-sum relationship characteristic of critical sociologies of art. Richer formal analysis brings with it richer sociological analysis as part of the same analytical move.

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The interpretive flexibility (DeNora, 2000: 33, 43) of such sculptural affordances is well illustrated by the changing responses to the lavish and richly painted drapery used for images of Mary and other female saints. This was modelled after the costly clothes worn by elite women at prestigious social occasions like dancing parties, and thus presumptively suitable to the Queen of Heaven and her entourage. But, exploiting the potential tension between rich party dress and church decorum, reforming iconoclasts like Luther and Zwingli were later to complain that such images were more like high class prostitutes, likely to corrupt their viewers morals, represented so whorish, insinuating and groomed, you would think they are placed there to arouse one to voluptuousness (Baxandall, 1980: 8892, quoting Zwingli). In practice such interpretive flexibility was limited by the visual set-up which framed viewers encounters with images, and the interpretive techniques which they assimilated through participation in religious services or as members of lay brotherhoods. The brotherhoods were a conspicuous feature of 15th-century piety and also often the sponsors of limewood sculptures. Baxandall (1980: 20814) takes the example of a statue of the Virgin and Child, originally the centrepiece of a rosary which would have been suspended from the roof of the church at the end of the nave. Circular rosary frames were generally embellished with 50 rosettes and five roundels, depicting the Five Joys of the Virgin. These corresponded to the 50 Aves and five Pater Nosters which were supposed to be recited as a component of devotional viewing, three times over for members of the Brotherhood of the Rosary, interspersing their 150 Aves and 15 Pater Nosters with lines from Latin hymns. As the viewer approached and circled the rosary, the statue was viewed from a range of different angles, each affording variant views of the Virgin and Child and facilitating the elicitation of a range of emotions matching the complexity of the Christian mysteries afforded for meditation by the sculpture, the rosary and the prayers. Once again, the focus is very much not on what the work of art means (some kind of fixed immanent signification), but how it means, as one component in a network of mediations, from the framing of the statue and its placement hanging at the end of the nave, to the behaviours and interpretive practices through which viewers activate the sculptures affordances and thus work upon the formation of their own subjectivity.

After Baxandall or back to Baxandall? The New Sociology of Art and Beyond
The conceptual language of ethnomethodology and actor network theory used by Hennion, De Nora and some other new sociologists of art, like Yaneva (2003) and Heath and Vom Lehn (2004), certainly helps to render more explicit, and transferable, some of the key features of Baxandalls approach, and has resulted in an extremely fruitful programme of research. But against the background of these marked similarities, it is also important to draw attention to aspects of Baxandalls analysis which differ significantly from the approach of the new sociology of art, and may indicate in certain respects a more cogent

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and powerful theoretical framework, if one which is perhaps too implicit and requires some drawing out. Consistent with their grounding in ethnomethodology and actor network theory, Hennion, DeNora et al. emphasize the local, interactive and contingent character of aesthetic agency. The links between works and tastes are conjunctural and hence changing (Hennion and Grennier, 2001: 351). Articulation between artistic forms and socio-cultural action is a process that is interactive, mutually constitutive, but always locally produced (Acord and DeNora, 2008: 228). Culture is not a set of a priori categories that act on people and determine their cognitive processing in given situations. Rather, actors embodied and emotional reactions may play a leading role in determining how and even if culture is integrated into action trajectories (2008: 234). It is easy to have some sympathy with these claims, which are perhaps a reaction against the structural determinism of critical sociologies of art, and the work of Pierre Bourdieu in particular. But such statements run the risk of fallacies of misplaced concreteness, that is to say formulating as concrete and mutually exclusive alternatives what should in fact be seen as analytical dimensions. The concept of contingency only makes sense in relation to a complementary concept of duration. The basic structures of capitalism (the institutions of money and private property, and the money-commodity-money circuit) are on one level contingent they have not characterized all known societies in human history but they are more enduring, less contingent, than, for example, the Italian lira proved to be. Without reference to frames of duration (structures), invocation of change and contingency has more rhetorical than analytical value.7 It is equally a fallacy of misplaced concreteness to see structure (whether cultural or social) as constraining in contrast to local and contingent interactions as the site of choice and free agency. Wishing to highlight local and haphazard sense-making practice rather than tacit mastery of a normative cultural code, Acord and DeNora argue that:
individuals make sense of an object or action in regard to a particular context and index it under those circumstances (Garfinkel, 1967). Norms, rules and repertoires of action grow out of these tactics in and through their observance, as cultural patterns of meaning making in response to particular situational and material affordances. (2008: 234)

Indexing an object or action under a particular context, however, presupposes an already existing cultural ability to typify (Schutz, 1962: index s.v. typification) such an object, and to construct a definition of the situation (Parsons and Platt, 1973: 26772) as being such or another kind of context or situation. Such typifications and definitions of the situation, although often quite abstract, have culturally specific patterning and are characterized by varying durations, but necessarily pre-exist the specific object they typify or the particular situation they define. If we are to believe Garfinkel (1967: 134), they are undergirded by socio-cultural a prioris with a dure of scope comparable to the Kantian categories, that is to say anthropological universals, the etc.

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principle, ad hocing and so on. It is only by virtue of such enduring cultural structures, a priori to any specific interaction, that we are able to interact at all. The genesis of new cultural forms always presupposes reference to such a priori structures, typifications and definitions of the situation, as much as to local situational and material affordances. The exact balance of the role of local interaction and the a priori structures in the formulation and transmission of new cultural patterns will of course vary, and is an empirical question, not something to be determined by theoretical fiat. How do these conceptual shortcomings manifest themselves in practice? One entailment is an analysis focussed rather exclusively on objects and their immediate interactive environment.8 This creates a temporally very foreshortened view of the character of the agencies (and structures) at work. Christian Heath and Dirk vom Lehn (2004) describe how, in the context of an exhibition on Caravaggio, visitors actively make sense of the paintings they encounter. They describe a young man and his parents looking at the Flagellation of Christ, and how the son positions his body and moves his arms in such a way as to see, and make visible to his parents, incisions on the canvass which indicate Caravaggios design process. It would seem inappropriate, the authors argue:
to suggest that abstract perceptual principles, cognitive models or socially structured dispositions predetermine the perception and experience of the picture. Rather, it emerges progressively through a complex configuration of action, bodily and spoken, through which the participants discover, see and experience the painting in particular ways The talk and bodily conduct of the participants, their gestures and the like, do not stand independently of the objects and artefacts themselves; they are intelligible by virtue of the particular exhibit, just as the particular artefact or object reflexively informs how the participants organize their conduct and make sense of the exhibit. (Heath and Vom Lehn, 2004: 52, 60)

But the choice of the boy to focus on the incisions was itself cued by exhibition notes on an A4 card, themselves just one index of the larger institutional setting in which the family encounter the painting. The relevance structure cued by the notes, and enacted by the family, focuses on the designed form of the painting as a manifestation of Caravaggios artistic genius, rather than, say, emoting over the content of the representation the suffering Christ as a member of Baxandalls Brotherhood of the Rosary, viewing the painting in a church, might have done. This relevance structure is mediated by and embedded in the larger and long established institutionalization of art as high culture. It draws on normative discourses of individual artistic creativity and practices of connoisseurship which date back to the 18th century and are materially embodied in the design of the modern art museums: from their temple-like exteriors, to the implicit narratives which determine the placement and ordering of pictures, and the priorities implicit in the content and structure of labels (Duncan and Wallach, 1980). To be sure, the experience realized in the act of viewing is certainly not wholly independent of the affordances of the painting in question, but it is at least partially independent. It is only against the background

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of this specific institutional structuring of art that one can make sense of the highly generic dispositions which the young man and his parents bring to the Caravaggio exhibition and the particular painting, and how far and in what specific ways they differ from the performance and experience of viewing of equivalent images which characterized the religious institutionalization of art in Baxandalls 15th-century case studies. These generic features of the mediation of art are of course well described in Bourdieus The Love of Art (1969), and Paul DiMaggios (1982a, 1982b) fine studies of the institutionalization of high culture in 19th-century Boston have given us a good understanding of the historical process of the construction of the whole mediatory apparatus which still largely shapes our experience in art museums today. I do not mean to imply that both Bourdieus and DiMaggios sociologies of high culture are not in certain respects quite reductive (cf. Tanner, 2005), only that a shift to a focus on momentary interactions and localized constitutive practices, at the expense of institutional analysis and the consideration of larger social structures, simply replaces one reductionism with another. Cultural codes and schemes exist and operate on many different layers and levels, of varying duration and spatial scope. The institutions and practices they shape and afford also vary in their temporal and spatial scope, and we must develop analytical frameworks adequate to that complexity (Sewell, 2005). Baxandalls historical monographs in fact show remarkable sensitivity to exactly these issues, and this represents perhaps the most marked difference between his work and that of the new sociology of art. It is also the dimension of his approach from which we still have most to learn today. As we have already seen, Baxandalls account of the workings of Veit Stosss rosary group of the Virgin and Child draws attention to the role of the Brotherhood of the Rosary in the commissioning and consumption of such sculptures. On one level, the practices of the lay brotherhoods are located by Baxandall in an institutional framework with a remarkably long dure and wide spatial reach. The institutional definition of the role of images in the Christian church, as a means of instruction for the people, dates back to late antiquity. The specific norms which defined the Renaissance institution of devotional art were codified certainly no later than the 13th century (Baxandall, 1972: 41), remained valid in 15th-century Italy and 15th-century Germany (Baxandall, 1980: 5169), and were probably common to most of western Europe before the Reformation (as indeed to much of Catholic Europe even today). On another level, however, Baxandalls account of the brotherhoods also points to the role of specific group figurations over shorter time scales, a changing balance of power in different groups control over that enduring institutional framework, and a sociologically significant inflection of the possibilities for the shaping of religious and affective identities which it afforded. The development of towns, and the intensification of craft production and exchange, afforded the increasingly wealthy lay members of the church greater influence in the character of artistic elaboration of churches, mediated through their administration of the parish chest, at the expense of the clergy (Baxandall, 1980: 88). It was largely members of wealthy craft and manufacturing families who became

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members of the brotherhoods and sponsored the limewood altarpieces with which Baxandall is concerned. Other changes Baxandall sees operating at different temporal scales, and involving social structures and social interactions of a differing spatial scope. Long-term trends in the increasing interconnectedness of the southern and northern European economies led to leading families like the Fuggers establishing branch offices in Italy. The Fuggers recourse to Italian artists to decorate a chapel in Augsburg marked what Baxandall characterizes, echoing Pinder (1926) and of course Mannheims (1993 [1927]) famous essay, as a generational change, when Italianate style became an element of the cultural circumstances within which limewood sculptors worked, and conversely a sense of the specifically German character of certain aspects the indigenous tradition developed, fomenting the formation of a national style (Baxandall, 1980: 23, 13142). The Reformation, of course, represented a change of another order, an institutional transformation in the relationship between art and religion. It was in this context that the potentially (and previously unnoticed) whorish affordances of some sculptures were drawn attention to by preachers like Zwingli and Luther, in widely distributed printed tracts which sought to transform the cultural framework with which viewers encountered such statues (Baxandall, 1980: 8892). Iconoclasm, and the disarticulation of visual art from a reformed Christianity which privileged the word, spelled the end of the limewood altarpiece.9 A brief summary is inadequate to bring out the analytical richness that characterizes Baxandalls history of the limewood sculptures of Renaissance Germany, save to say that it is throughout attentive to the hierarchical and layered properties of social structures and cultural practices, characterized by distinctive temporal logics, whose conjunctural intersection explains the key transformations in the nature of the art, and the art institutions, with which Baxandall is concerned.

Conclusion
Notwithstanding these signal virtues, by sociological standards the framework employed by Baxandall in The Limewood Sculptors is often much too implicit, as it is also in Baxandalls other major works. So it is perhaps worth spelling out again some of the key strengths of Baxandalls approach as a model for the sociology of art. First, it integrates social analysis and visual analysis into a single framework, rather than attributing one to the sociology of art, and the other to art history. Second, while being centrally concerned with the social and economic bases of art, grounded in systems of patronage and the social organization of production, it does not reduce artistic action to such bases. On the contrary, it emphasizes the historically variable social construction of artistic agency, and in particular the role played by specifically material (aesthetic, depictive, visual) practices in the construction of such agency. Third, the viewer plays an active role in the social appropriation of art. Rather than simply decoding works of art, as the approaches of linguistic structuralism or hermeneutics might suggest, viewers engage the specific material and aesthetic

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affordances of works of art by deploying specific visual skills, of varying social provenance. In doing so, viewers make use of the aesthetic features of works of art in structuring specific social activities, in mediating social relationships, and in shaping their own subjectivities. These different dimensions of analysis are integrated through a focus on the institutional character of art, tacitly grounded in the assumption that art is a functionally differentiated strand of culture, using sensuous means to appropriate viewers perceptual responsiveness for the social and cultural construction of affect for specific, institutionally defined, purposes.10 Far from leading to the kind of static or consensus oriented analysis that text book critiques of functionalism might imply, Baxandall uses these assumptions as an analytic framework for concrete historical analysis. This allows him to explore how the different dimensions of the art situation which he identifies, manifested in specific ways in specific social and historical situations, interact over time in complex, variably conflictual processes of socio-cultural reproduction and change. The core concept of art as institution permits Baxandalls analysis to reach from the micro level of specific engagements between viewers and works of art, to the macro considerations of the relationship between art and the broader social structures within which art is located. At each of these levels art may potentially play a significant role in shaping processes of social and cultural reproduction and change, and is in its turn potentially subject to diverse levels and modes of social structuring. If we can draw any conclusion from the uses made of Baxandall by different social theorists and cultural sociologists, it must be that any reading of Baxandall is only one reading among a range of possible readings. These readings should be judged in terms of three criteria: their adequacy to Baxandalls writings, their own internal theoretical coherence, and their fruitfulness in shaping future research in the sociology of art. My attempt to draw out the sociological dimensions of Baxandalls approach has drawn its vocabulary from Nikos Mouzeliss (1995) account of the complementary relationship between institutional analysis of sociocultural systems (along lines developed in the work of Talcott Parsons), and the figurational analysis of interactions between groups and individuals in the context of such systemic institutional frameworks (based on the structural sociologies of Norbert Elias or Max Weber, for example), and also from William Sewells account of the logics of history (2005). Like any reading of a classic text (cf. Alexander, 1987), my reading of Baxandall has its own horizon, both intellectual and institutional, and functions as much as an argument in favour of a particular approach to the sociology of art as a description of Baxandalls work, namely a broadly neofunctionalist one.11 But for the purposes of this particular essay, perhaps more important than the competitive value of that research programme is my larger argument. Baxandalls Painting and Experience and Limewood Sculptors should be considered as and in fact in practice already are classics in the sociology of art, texts which we can profitably reread and explore anew in the context of each paradigmatic change in our discipline.

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Notes
1 Note also Kenneth Daubers (1992) use of Baxandall as the basis of his use of art (sculpture) to explore social contexts (the relationship between religion and social structure in Kamakura Japan). 2 To be fair, Alexander later (2003: 308) notes that Baxandall does also look at issues of production and reception, but she suggests that he is unable to integrate these different approaches, treating each in separate chapters, and thus separating the sociological from the artistic. For my own part, I think Baxandall does see these three dimensions of analysis as integrated through the concept of institution which informs all three chapters and as I will argue further below he in certain respects offers a theoretically more coherent approach than that of DeNora and Hennion, which Alexander takes as her exemplar for the constitutive approach, focussing on arts role in society. 3 There is not space here to spell out the reductionist character of Bourdieus social theory in general. For a good discussion, which I find largely persuasive, see Alexander (1995). For critical evaluations of the entailments of the logic of Bourdieus theory for the analysis of art, see: Hennion and Grennier (2001: 3415); Tanner (2003: 2022). 4 Cf. Baxandall (1985b: 40) for his most explicit formulation of a position very similar to Hennions, seeing art and society as unhomologous systematic constructions put upon interpenetrating subject matters. 5 The affinity between Baxandalls approach and ethnomethodology was first drawn attention to by Chandra Mukerji (1986), in a review of Baxandalls Patterns of Intention, in the American Journal of Sociology. Actor network theorists and Baxandall independently came up with similar analytical vocabulary, emphasizing the heterogeneity of the practical networks which were the objects of their analysis, and questions of translation across such networks. Like Baxandall and ANT, ethnomethodology has been very much concerned to contest standard social scientific accounts of causality, emphasizing that society is not so much the cause of actors behaviours as the accomplishment of their constitutive practices. For Baxandalls most sustained reflection on the concept of cause in relation to art history, see Baxandall (1985a: especially vvii, 26 32). Compare the last chapter of Baxandall (1980), which he conceptualizes as a study of artists electing their own causes (1980: 164), with Hennions analysis (2007: 102) of making ones determinations act. 6 DeNora does not explicitly discuss Baxandall, but her work has been developed in ongoing dialogue with that of Antoine Hennion, through whom Baxandalls influence is mediated. Another important study combining concepts from ethnomethodology and the sociology of science with Baxandalls period eye concept is Chandra Mukerjis wonderful study of the articulation of the formal design of the gardens of Versailles in the context of territorial practices of state-making in 17th-century France (Mukerji, 1997). The Pleasures of Military Culture (1997: 8297) is a superb analysis of the ideal viewer of classical French gardens. The counterpart to Baxandalls churchgoing businessman with a taste for dancing was a military man of noble background trained in visual skills of estimating heights and distances, and mapping spaces in the contexts of siege warfare and the design of military architecture, the bearer in short of a surveying eye which

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could enjoy the complex gradings and continually changing patterns of visibility characteristic of the parterres and bosquets of Versailles. Braudels classic essay (1980 [1958]) on the character of historical time interestingly discusses the work of the French art historian Pierre Francastel as an exemplary instance of an art historian who addresses the longue dure in the history of painting. Braudels insights are taken to a higher level of sophistication in Sewell (2005). Manifested in a rather acute form by some of Hennions reifying formulations: commenting (2005: 1334) on the work of Baxandall and Haskell that shows how the works through their mediums and restorations, and the way they have been gathered together, presented, commented upon and reproduced, have continuously reconfigured the frame of their own evaluation; they show us art gradually tracing the frame in which we understand it Just as music is a history writing its own history, so it is also a reality, making its own reality. The material agency of the art works themselves is so much foregrounded that human agents, the institutional entrepreneurs of DiMaggios (1982a, 1982b) studies of the social construction of high culture, are downplayed to the point of vanishing. If music is a history writing its own history, [and] a reality making its own reality, as Hennion asserts (2005: 135), we might suggest that during the iconoclasm of the Reformation, the limewood altarpieces were making their own history, by being whorish, but making it in circumstances not of their own choosing, to take up the echo of Marxs Eighteenth Brumaire. The conceptual language I use here is of course that of Talcott Parsons account of art as expressive symbolism (see Tanner, 2000), which seems to me wholly consistent with Baxandalls account of the institutional ends of painting (1972: 4048), though obviously more generalized, formulated on a level of abstraction that does not presuppose the specific historical institutionalization of art with which Baxandall is concerned in his Renaissance case studies. The neofunctionalist research programme is perhaps best represented by Alexander and Colomy (1990) and Alexander (1998). See Tanner (2005, 2006) for my own efforts to develop this framework for the sociology of art.

References
Acord, S.K. and DeNora, T. (2008) Culture and the Arts: From Art Worlds to Art in Action, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 619(September): 22337. Alexander, J.C. (1987) The Centrality of the Classics, in A. Giddens and J. Turner (eds), Social Theory Today, pp. 1157. Cambridge: Polity. Alexander, J.C. (1995) The Reality of Reduction: The Failed Synthesis of Pierre Bourdieu, in J.C. Alexander, Fin de Sicle Social Theory. Relativism, Reduction and the Problem of Reason, pp. 128217. London: Verso. Alexander, J.C. (1998) Neofunctionalism and After. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Alexander, J.C. and Colomy, P. (eds) (1990) Differentiation Theory and Social Change: Comparative and Historical Perspectives. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

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Michael Baxandall and the Sociological Interpretation of Art Tanner Alexander, V.D. (2003) Sociology of the Arts: Exploring Fine and Popular Forms. London: Blackwell. Alpers, S. (1983) The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century. London: John Murray. Babon, K.M. (2006) Composition, Coherence and Attachment: The Critical Role of Context in Reception, Poetics 34(3): 15179 Baxandall, M. (1971) Giotto and the Orators: Humanist Observers of Painting in Italy and the Discovery of Pictorial Composition. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Baxandall, M. (1972) Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Baxandall, M. (1980) The Limewood Sculptors of Renaissance Germany. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Baxandall, M. (1985a) Patterns of Intention: On the Historical Explanation of Pictures. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Baxandall, M. (1985b) Art, Society and the Bouguer Principle, Representations 12(1): 3243. Becker, H. (1982) Art Worlds. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Biernacki, R. (2005) The Action Turn? Comparative Historical Inquiry beyond the Classical Models of Conduct, in J. Adams et al. (eds) Remaking Modernity: Politics, History and Sociology, pp. 7591. Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press. Bourdieu, P. (1967) Afterword, in E. Panofsky, Architecture Gothique et Pense Scholastique [translated by P. Bourdieu], pp. 16176. Paris: Minuit. Bourdieu, P. (1968) Outline of a Sociological Theory of Art Perception, International Social Science Journal 20(4): 589612. Bourdieu, P. (1990 [1969]) with A. Darbel and D. Schnapper. The Love of Art: European Museums and Their Public. Cambridge: Polity. Bourdieu, P. (1996) The Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field. Translated by S. Emanuel. Cambridge: Polity. Bourdieu, P. and Desault, Y. (1981a) Pour une sociologie de la perception, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales 40(November): 39. Bourdieu, P. and Desault, Y. (1981b) Introduction, in M. Baxandall, Loeil du Quattrocento, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales 40(November): 1049. Braudel, F. (1980 [1958]) History and the Social Sciences: The Longue Dure, in On History, pp. 2554. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Bryson, N., Holly, M.A. and Moxey, K. (eds) (1994) Visual Culture: Images and Interpretations. Hanover, PA and London: Wesleyan University Press. Clark, T.J. (1976) Preliminary Arguments: Work of Art and Ideology, paper presented to the Marxism and Art History Session of the College Art Association Meeting, Chicago, February 1976. Clunas, C. (2003) Social History of Art, in R.S. Nelson and R. Shiff (eds), Critical Terms for Art History, pp. 46577. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Dauber, K. (1992) Object, Genre and Buddhist Sculpture, Theory and Society 21(4): 56192. De La Fuente, E. (2007) The New Sociology of Art: Putting Art back into Social Science Approaches to the Arts, Cultural Sociology 1(3): 40925.

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DeNora, T. (2000) Music in Everyday Life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DeNora, T. (2005) Music and Social Experience, in M.D. Jacobs and N.W. Hanrahan (eds), The Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Culture, pp. 14759. Blackwell: Oxford. DiMaggio, P. (1982a) Cultural Entrepreneurship in Nineteenth Century Boston, I: The Creation of an Organizational Base for High Culture in America, Media, Culture and Society 4(1): 3350. DiMaggio, P. (1982b) Cultural Entrepreneurship in Nineteenth Century Boston, II: The Classification and Framing of American Art, Media, Culture and Society 4(2): 30322. Duncan, C. and Wallach, A. (1980) The Universal Survey Museum, Art History 3(4): 44869. Garfinkel, H. (1967) Studies in Ethnomethodology. Oxford: Blackwell. Gomart, E. and Hennion, A. (1999) A Sociology of Attachments: Music Lovers, Drug Addicts, in J. Law and J. Hassard (eds), Actor Network Theory and After, pp. 22047. Oxford: Blackwell. Griswold, W. (1987a) A Methodological Framework for the Sociology of Culture, in C. Clogg (ed.), Sociological Methodology 1987, pp. 135. Washington, DC: American Sociological Association. Griswold, W. (1987b) The Fabrication of Meaning: Literary Interpretation in the United States, Great Britain and the West Indies, American Journal of Sociology 92(5): 10771117. Haskell, F. (1980 [1965]) Patrons and Painters: A Study in the Relations between Italian Art and Society in the Age of the Baroque. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Haskell, F. and Penny, N. (1981) Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture 1500-1900. New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press. Heath, C. and Vom Lehn, D. (2004) Configuring Reception: (Dis)-Regarding the Spectator in Museums and Galleries, Theory, Culture and Society 21(6): 4365. Hennion, A. (1995) The History of Art: Lessons in Mediation, Rseaux: The French Journal of Communication 3(2): 23362. Hennion, A. (2005) Pragmatics of Taste, in M. Jacobs and N. Hanrahan (eds), The Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Culture, pp. 13144. Oxford: Blackwell. Hennion, A. (2007) Those Things That Hold Us Together: Taste and Sociology, Cultural Sociology 1(1): 97114. Hennion, A. and Grennier, L. (2001) Sociology of Art: New Stakes in a PostCritical Time, in S. Quah and A. Sales (eds), The International Handbook of Sociology, pp. 34155. London: Sage. Holly, M.A. (1999) Patterns in the Shadows: Attention in/to the Writings of Michael Baxandall, in A. Rifkin (ed.), About Michael Baxandall, pp. 516. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Jay, M. (2002) Cultural Relativism and the Visual Turn, Journal of Visual Culture 1(3): 26778.

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Michael Baxandall and the Sociological Interpretation of Art Tanner Langdale, A. (1999) Aspects of the Critical Reception and Intellectual History of Baxandalls Concept of the Period Eye, in A. Rifkin (ed.), About Michael Baxandall, pp. 1735. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Mannheim, K. (1993 [1927]) The Problem of Generations, in K.H. Wolff (ed.), From Karl Mannheim [2nd Edition, with an Introduction by V. Meja and D. Kettler], pp. 35198. New Brunswick, NJ and London: Transaction. Mouzelis, N. (1995) Sociological Theory: What Went Wrong? Diagnosis and Remedies. London: Routledge. Mukerji, C. (1986) Review of Michael Baxandall, Patterns of Intention: On the Historical Explanation of Pictures, American Journal of Sociology 92(1): 4856. Mukerji, C. (1997) Territorial Ambitions and the Gardens of Versailles. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Panofsky, E. (1951) Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism: An Inquiry into the Analogy of the Arts, Philosophy and Religion in the Middle Ages. New York, NY: Meridian. Parsons, T. and Platt, G.M. (1973) The American University. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Pinder, W. (1926) Das Problem der Generation in der Kunstgeschichte Europas. Berlin: Bruckmann. Rifkin, A. (1999) Editors Introduction, in A. Rifkin (ed.), About Michael Baxandall, pp. 14. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Schutz, A. (1962) The Problem of Social Reality: Collected Papers 1. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. Sewell, W.J. (2005) Logics of History: Social Theory and Social Transformation. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Tagg, J. (1994) The Discontinuous City: Picturing and the Discursive Field, in N. Bryson et al. (eds), Visual Culture: Images and Interpretations, pp. 83103. Hanover, PA and London: Wesleyan University Press. Tanner, J. (2000) The Body, Expressive Culture and Social Interaction: Integrating Art History and Action Theory, in H. Staubmann and H. Wenzel (eds), Talcott Parsons: Zur Aktualitt eines Theorieprogramms [sterreichische Zeitschrift fr Soziologie, Sonderband 6], pp. 285324. Wiesbaden: Westdeutscher Verlag. Tanner, J. (2003) The Sociology of Art: A Reader. London: Routledge. Tanner, J. (2005) Rationalists, Fetishists and Art Lovers: Action Theory and the Comparative Analysis of High Cultural Institutions, in R.C. Fox et al. (eds), After Parsons: A Theory of Social Action for the Twenty First Century, pp. 179207. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation. Tanner, J. (2006) The Invention of Art History in Ancient Greece: Religion, Society and Artistic Rationalisation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wackernagel, M. (1981 [1938]) The World of the Florentine Renaissance Artist. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Yaneva, A. (2003) Chalk Steps on the Museum Floor: The Pulses of Objects in an Art Installation, Journal of Material Culture 8(2): 16988. Zolberg, V. (1990) Constructing a Sociology of the Arts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Jeremy Tanner
Jeremy Tanner is Reader in Classical and Comparative Art at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. Educated in classics at the University of Cambridge and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, his research straddles the disciplines of art history and sociology, with a particular interest in classical sociological theory and the theory of action. Recent publications include The Sociology of Art: A Reader (2003) and The Invention of Art History in Ancient Greece: Religion, Society and Artistic Rationalisation (2006), a study which draws upon Talcott Parsonss account of art as expressive symbolism and Max Webers comparative sociology of religion to understand the history of art as an institution in classical antiquity. He is currently working on a comparative sociological study of early Greek and early Chinese art. Address: Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 31/34 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PY, UK. Email: j.tanner@ucl.ac.uk

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