Date of Award

Fall 12-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art History

First Advisor

Dr. Piper Hutson

Second Advisor

Dr. Esperanca M. Camara

Third Advisor

Dr. Alexis R. Culotta


This paper analyzes how the development and consequence of symbolic capital influences an art market. This comprehensive, qualitative analysis examines the early twentieth century New York modern art market activated by French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954) and the 1913 Armory Show. This examination derived from the French sociologist, philosopher, and anthropologist Pierre Bourdieu’s (1930-2002) theories provides evidence of the use of symbolic capital by Matisse. The evidence points to the twofold function that symbolic capital holds within the emerging modern art market. The first function of symbolic capital manifests through the nonmonetary value Matisse received from the intangible qualities of reputation and status and the firsthand knowledge of Matisse’s intent to use this first function for greater advantage in the art market. The second function of symbolic capital outweighs economic, social, and cultural capital specific to an art market. The analysis of the twofold function of symbolic capital deems it as a fundamental, dominant factor that influenced the success of Matisse and the new modern art market.