restricted access La construction sociale d’un territoire professionnel : les agents artistiques

Whether qualified as impresarios or art agents, these actors of the art world have held the position of intermediaries on the art job market since the end of the 19th century. This article seeks to show how art agents have progressively constructed their professional field, moving from a lack of regulation to the framing and liberalisation of their activity. Initially lacking control and discredited due to suspicions of swindling, the profession was progressively controlled by local and municipal authorities. The social construction of the profession rests on an effort to moralise and frame an activity which, after having obtained an exceptional right of practise while fee paying placing agencies were being abolished, was finally legalised as a profession in December 1969. From 2004 onwards, another phase was initiated, leading to the liberalisation of the profession with the application of the 2010 Bolkenstein directive. The scope of the activity having widened from mere placing to the representation of professional interests, the legalisation of the activity was thus constructed between artist union struggles and the internal structuring of a very heterogeneous and hierarchical professional field.