Seven Days in the Art World
By Sarah Thornton
This enlightening and entertaining book offers a glimpse into the rarified atmosphere of the booming contemporary art world as it stood in the years 2004-07. Sarah Thornton, with her ethnographic perspective on seven diverse segments of this expensive and exclusive scene delivers a peek into a world which few artists and lovers of art will ever gain access.
Offering glimpses into the marketing and selling of art through the dealers and auction houses, the trade shows and publications, Thornton delivers a thoroughly researched and lively written peek behind the so called curtain of art commerce. With the dramatic economic downturn the world experienced in 2008 this may be a prescient view of a market at its climax.
The artists themselves are represented at they hone their craft at a legendary California critique session, we tag along with short listed artists awaiting news of the winner of a prize which will catapult the prices of their art into the stratosphere. We then travel with an artist at the top of his game on a tour of the international studios where his work is created by and for him.
Interestingly, the artwork itself is but a minor character in this impressive theatrical event of Seven Days in the Art World. The artists pour ideas into and onto the market, the press and critics push the market with fantabulous facts and figures and the dealers, auction houses and collectors play the market. One is reminded of the Wizard behind the green curtain in the land of Oz pumping away while trying to keep the illusion real.
Kudos to Sarah Thornton for pulling back the curtain on this endangered microcosmic world in such an accessible and informative style.
Review by Mary Ahern 1/4/2008