Friday, October 28, 2011

Seven Days In The Art World

This month my bookclub, Bay Bookworms, read Seven Days In The Art World by Sarah Thornton.

This book is a fly-on-the-wall account of the seven strange subcultures that make, trade, curate and collect and hype contemporary art. The author spends a day at an art auction (Christie's), an intellectual art magazine (Artforum) an art school (California Institute of Arts), an art fair (Art Basel), interviews those surrounding the always controversial Brit art prize (the Turner) pays a studio visit of one of the world's highest paid artists (Takashi Murakami) and attends a prestigious international art exhibition (the Biennale in Venice. Her constant question is: "What is art?"

What we thought:
Kenny: Go with your instincts and buy what you enjoy looking at. Art is like any other product -  marketing and name recognition plays a big part in success and pricing - but that does not always correlate with a piece of Art that moves your mind.

Jody: Incredibly well-researched, well-written piece of journalism and very easy to read. Loved it, especially with the Turner Prize so close. The Christie's auction was my favourite - and noone wants the artist there! The art that consistently sells best: has to fit in a New York elevator, not brown and featuring women rather than men. Leaves you feeling really cynical about the art world when you learn a few super-dealers inflate the value of their stable of artists by "protecting" them in auction. Art is whatever evokes an emotion and continues to do so. Otherwise it's just decoration.

Carson: The book demystified the modern art world by breaking it down from art school all the way to resale at auction. I especially enjoyed the chapters that focused on the artists themselves... The Crit and The Prize. The other chapters expose the art world as a quirky business model with art and artists as products to be managed by galleries, auction houses, and art magazines. The art and the artist can become very disconnected in the process of selling and collecting art. A better glimpse into the world of contemporary artists is the documentary film Herb and Dorothy

Amy: Really interesting look into the world of contemporary art

What do you think art is? Our next book is By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours. It's a story of a mid-forties New York couple, who thought they were happy enough until her brother comes to visit. Read along with us!


  1. I want to read this now. Thanks! And to keep up with you, I'll get started on the next book too. :)

  2. Sounds like an interesting read. My book club, not near as high-brow, is currently reading The Hunger Games. Yes, as in the adolescent series. Strangely, I'm enjoying it!

    I suggest the December book, though, so maybe I'll suggest By Nightfall too!

  3. i think art can be anything done with passion -- art, music, dance, food, etc. :)

    this sounds like a really good book, hopefully my local library has it. :)

    <3, Mimi

  4. I have to read this book!!!! I have a real love of the art world, so I will undoubedtly enjoyin this behind-the-scenes look at it. Thanks for the recommendation-- and for sharing everyone's thoughts!

  5. It sounds like a fabulous book for anyone who would like to delve further into the world of art! Have a lovely weekend:)

  6. Ooh, I so love the idea of a book club. I may just need to pick up the next title on your to-read list! :)

  7. Oh this sounds very interesting! I just spent the day at a very large museum filled with art from different eras, such as Medieval and Rococo. It is interesting to be at a museum and see what art is to other people. "What is art" is such a personal question I think. Everyone must have a different answer to that.

  8. Bear doesn't know anything about art. But he likes pretty pictures, singable song, interesting plays, and good books.
    Does that make Bear an art-lover? Hmmmm.

  9. I would normally avoid a book on the world of Art but you made it sound really interesting - and the next one!

  10. I am by no means artsy or crafty or even remotely knowledge when it comes to art but I do really love looking at it. I love the show on Bravo The Next Great Artist just because I love watching people use their creativity

  11. Sounds like a fabulous read! Thanks for letting us know about it :) xoxo

  12. sounds fabulous and very interesting! :) Your post are always fabulous


  13. Ohhh I think I might have to pick up By Nightfall! I agree it's kind of disturbing to realize that the art world is a business with it's own politics like any other industry...those at the top fight to preserve their positions just like any other respectable CEO...but still I love it and you just have to take that side with a grain of sand and realize that it's part of what makes investing in pieces worth something, like real estate. Anyway, that's my take on the whole crazy thing :)
    Wishing you a spooktacular halloween Jody!
    xo mary jo


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