Thomas Jungnitz-Watson


How does artistic autonomy relate to capitalist form? Can art’s ideal self-sufficiency be leveraged to better understand the commodity? My work departs from a reappraisal of Institutional Critique – as a provisional, yet fleeting, resolution to art’s crisis of critical self-judgement in the 1960s – to address questions of autonomy and capitalism. The basis for Institutional Critique’s formal success, I argue, arose from conditions that rendered the ‘institution’ a plausible category through which to construe the unity of transmedia works. But as the terrain of accumulation shifted in EuroAmerica – carving an increasingly profitable channel for finance, transforming corporate ownership and relocating vast swathes of productive activity elsewhere – so novel artworks came to reflect alternative instantiations of social form, corresponding more to the abstract contours of contracts, financial products and intellectual property than to museum or gallery. Today, practices subject to the caprice of capitalist determination might seem well served by theorisation of the value form. But what precisely would such a practice comprise, and what sorts of interpretation are required for its realisation?
Funded by the AHRC through the White Rose College of the Arts & Humanities (WRoCAH).

Research interests

  • contemporary art
  • critical theory
  • Marxism
  • German Idealism


  • MPhil Social Anthropology
  • MA Philosophy
  • BFA Fine Art