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Brands on a wet, black bough: marketing the masterworks of modernism

Stephen Brown (University of Ulster, Jordanstown, Northern Ireland)

Arts and the Market

ISSN: 2056-4945

Article publication date: 5 May 2015




In a world where commerce and culture are still somewhat estranged, the purpose of this paper is to show that high culture’s supreme exponents were commercially minded masters of marketing.


Historically situated, the paper adopts a biographical approach to the making of modernism’s literary masterworks. It focuses on Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot and James Joyce, who were responsible for the modernist classics, Ulysses and The Waste Land.


The analysis identifies five fundamental marketing principles that appear paradoxical from a traditional, customer-centric standpoint, yet are in accord with latter-day, post-Kotlerite conceptualisations. The marketing of modernism did not rely on “modern” marketing.

Practical implications

If, at the height of the anti-bourgeois modernist movement, the “great divide” between elite and popular culture was bridged by marketing, there is no reason why contemporary culture and commerce cannot collaborate, co-operate, co-exist, coalesce.


The paper complements prior studies of “painterpreneurs”, by drawing attention to the marketing of literary masterworks.



Brown, S. (2015), "Brands on a wet, black bough: marketing the masterworks of modernism", Arts and the Market, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 5-24.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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