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The Consumption of Contemporary Visual Art: Identity Formation in Late Adulthood

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Andrew Newman, Dr Anna Goulding, Professor Christopher Whitehead



This paper examines the responses of older people to the British Art Show 6, which is an exhibition of recent developments in contemporary visual art in the UK. One group of respondents attended two ‘meet the artist talks’ and a second group attended an artist-led workshop where they produced work that had been stimulated by the exhibition. The focus groups that resulted were analysed using theoretical frameworks related to identity construction. The analysis demonstrated that respondents were using the resources of the exhibition to construct identity positions in response to their social contexts. However, their ability to do this was governed by how the relationship between agency and structure played out for individuals in their engagement with contemporary visual art. It is suggested that wellbeing originates from the control such a process might give individuals over their social environment.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Newman A, Goulding A, Whitehead C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cultural Trends

Year: 2012

Volume: 21

Issue: 1

Pages: 29-45

Print publication date: 05/03/2012

Date deposited: 04/04/2012

ISSN (print): 0954-8963

ISSN (electronic): 1469-3690

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/09548963.2012.641758


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