Friday, April 1, 2011

Just finished reading...

...SEVEN DAYS IN THE ART WORLD by Sarah Thornton.

Sarah Thornton’s documentary book is a nice overview of what the art world has become—or rather what the world of buying and selling art has become. It has always been apparent that the artist is mildly to very removed from whatever happens to a piece of art after it is completed. Thornton confirms this with seven chapters focusing on a different aspect of how contemporary art is hyped, marketed, sold, and re-sold. The artist is at the heart of it all though, and we see inside a “Crit” class at CalArts where art students talk about each other’s work (hence the “Crit” or “critique” part), we peek in on the machinations of Britain’s famous—and infamous—Turner Prize bestowed on young British artists by the Tate Museum, and we visit the studio of Japanese artist Takashi Murakami who, despite his insistence that he is an artist, has become an industrialized factory (his idol, he confesses, is Andy Warhol).

We also see into the manipulated world of art auctions (Christie’s) and art fairs (Art Basel in Switzerland and the Venice Biennale) where the super rich vie for and purchase works of art for staggering amounts. By doing this, they are able to shift value from artist to artist or from work to work, effectively controlling what artists become valuable and what artists’ legacies will live on... and which won't. It’s disappointing to read about this near-Machiavellian aspect of the art world that exists alongside the world of creating art, but upon deeper reflection, there will always be artists and there will always be art. On the other hand, money comes and money goes.

Recommend? Yes. It’s an informative, interesting, quick read.

No comments: