Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art Business

First Advisor

Paul Melton

Second Advisor

Morgan Falconer


As fine art degrees expand in cost and popularity, the need to educate students about the complex art market they are entering is more urgent now than ever before. But despite the globalizing art market’s continuing demand for emerging talent, its opaque and hypercompetitive nature generates significant obstacles for fine art graduates. This is exacerbated by the relative absence of practical business and legal skills implemented in fine art curricula across the U.S. and U.K. Statistical and anecdotal evidence highlighting the many entrepreneurial skills required to develop and sustain a professional practice, demonstrates the need for more comprehensive professional development syllabi to be implemented in fine art schools.

This thesis takes as its main focus the art markets of New York and London, and assesses how fine art schools in these rapidly intensifying urban centers respond to their commercial environments. The history of Western artist education, and how this has developed in conjunction with the art market, provides a context for curricular reform. The anti-authority, experimental and individualized approaches to art school pedagogy that became popular in the 1960s directly influence fine art schools today. This results in an ethic of market-aversion among students and faculty, which is formalized in accreditation standards and curricular design. This results in many fine art graduates being mostly unprepared to tackle the business and legal challenges of the art market, resulting in low earnings and exploitation by market players.

Four fine art schools across New York and London have responded to these difficulties by implementing professional development coursework that offers students practical entrepreneurial skills, as well as opportunities to philosophically question the economic, social and political circumstances of art practice. This strategic and discursive pedagogy, which focuses on student outcomes, is also cemented through experiential and projectbased learning. These exemplary approaches, and findings from quantitative and qualitative data, generate a set of recommendations for an ideal syllabus in business and legal skills for artists, to be implemented in a postgraduate fine art program. A prototype for such a syllabus appears at the conclusion of this thesis.