The relocation of art is not a new phenomenon. There have always been cases of aesthetic
objects passing from public places to private places, from sacred spaces to worldly spaces, from
more dispersed settings to more concentrated settings. Art has always had a nomadic je ne sais
quoi. In this to and fro movement the really decisive step was taken on the threshold of the
nineteenth century, when art was transferred from contexts of life – churches, squares or palatial buildings – to a specialized context such as a museum or an exhibition (the “salon”). It was there that art, responding, in a way, to the need for autonomy that had begun to permeate it a hundred years before, found what might appear to be its proper home: a place that houses it for what it is, or rather for what it becomes precisely because of being housed there. The museum or the exhibition stripped the work of art of its various functions and revealed its stylistic substance, and precisely by doing so they made it become a work “of art”.2 However, neither the museum nor the salon were closed settings: art soon began to circulate in the world again, and it did so with the status that it had acquired. The monument, no longer understood as a memorial but as an aesthetic presence, or the mural, no longer seen as the book of the people but as the product of a painter’s endeavour, or the design object, no longer considered as a sign of functionality and distinction but as the triumph of a form, provide a good example of the outflow of art from the museum. Art appeared to have been strengthened by the identity and prestige that it had acquired in the meantime, yet no less determined to continue with its wanderings.
Elsewhere. The relocation of art