The intrinsic value of art, always one of the most dubious topics of aesthetic ontology, and which was particularly shaken in modernity, appears today in the dependency of the general productivity of contemporary media. The monetarization of arts is, if we recall Niklas Luhmann, the last guarantee of the symbolic value of art in a culture more and more dependent on money and on the fluidization of meaning. If it were not translatable into a monetary value, art would simply no longer exist in our fabric of meanings. That does not mean that artistic processes can be fully described by economic processes associated to them.
On the contrary: if the economic value produces an area that fixes the aesthetic value and functions as a “reserve of value”, there is another view that tends to virtualize the aesthetic, i.e. to make it a domain, alien to the individual and to the metaphysical determination of the relationship between what is there and its system of production. Significantly, the so-called virtual economy, through its detachment from place and time, opens enigmatic synchronicities which come to serve a remnant of aesthetic inactuality.
As Mario Perniola says, there is an enigma “connected to the impression that nothing can seize time exclusively or establish with the present time an essential relationship of co-ownership. Time is accomplished because there is no longer a determined artistic will, nor a formal identity inseparable from it. Accomplished time makes the whole artistic universe relative, transforming actuality into occasion and repertoire into inventory”. It should be noted that “accomplished time” of the aesthetic presence is also mainly retrospective as Art History is today subverted by new combinations of artistic forms from the past which seem to be able to go back to the spirit of the Cabinet of Curiosities, as Wunderkammer of the Baroque period where the spirit of collection prevailed over the logical and historical systematization of artistic specimens. From rupestral art to the dawn of artistic modernity, the local and historical processes of attribution of value to works of art - one of the major concerns of modern historiography and phenomenology of art - seem to be submerged again by a generalized desire for dehistoricized consumption. Therefore, this is a process where the discourse on art reveals its increasing vulnerability before the current transformations of the “imaginary museum”. Moving away from Malraux’s proposal that placed the encounter with the works in an exercise where the museum would be at the service of the humanist imaginary, today the museum, while hybrid space, is situated in the intersection of discourses with a hierarchy not easily made visible, neither by programmers and curators nor by responsible institutions.
Particularly since Romanticism, many of the forms of artistic evaluation have manifested themselves as will for a discourse on art. A large number of these discourses was about the aesthetic short-circuit between value and its calculation, resulting in a discourse which supposedly proceeded from art itself. For that reason, the discursive evaluation of art leads to what Carole Talon-Hugon describes as “a destruction and an apotheosis”. If art moved towards the absolute, it could only have the value Hegel conferred to it: precise stage of a process destined to surpass it and, therefore, to dissolve it (Auflösung). From art would remain the evidence of a need that, though unavoidable, would already be accomplished. It does not seem negligible to question here a certain vague and imprecise Hegelianism that crosses the contemporary world: there is a general feeling of inactuality of art that constantly pushes it towards shock processes capable of reviving, by mediatization, the protagonism of the aesthetic.