Monday, 11 December 2017

"Seven days in the art world" by Sarah Thornton

Title: Seven days in the art world
Author: Sarah Thornton
Genre: Art
Overall: 8/10

The art market has been booming. Museum attendance is surging. More people than ever call themselves artists. Contemporary art has become a mass entertainment, a luxury good, a job description, and, for some, a kind of alternative religion.  In a series of beautifully paced narratives, Sarah Thornton investigates the drama of a Christie's auction, the workings in Takashi Murakami's studios, the elite at the Basel Art Fair, the eccentricities of Artforum magazine, the competition behind an important art prize, life in a notorious art-school seminar, and the wonderland of the Venice Biennale. She reveals the new dynamics of creativity, taste, status, money, and the search for meaning in life. A judicious and juicy account of the institutions that have the power to shape art history, based on hundreds of interviews with high-profile players, Thornton's entertaining ethnography will change the way you look at contemporary culture.

Jo's review:
I know many people despise the idea of writing things down in a book but in this case, I just had to use the last page to write down all the page numbers that I'd want to use in the future as a reference. (With a pencil, in my defense). I love reading about the world of art even if it's contemporary. This book is an ethnography, both investigation, and observation, a series of conversations, an insight into seven different places where art is blooming. An auction, a seminar, an art fair, a magazine, a studio, an art competition and a Biennale. All of these places show the distinction and marvellousness of the art world. It focuses mostly on the buyers and the economic side but it still shows the world of absolutely unique people who are usually the crème de la crème of society with quirky but extremely fascinating worldviews. Not the easiest read but it's a great description of a contemporary art scene.

Favourite parts:
"Creative is definitely a dirty word. It's almost as embarrassing as 'beautiful' or 'sublime' or 'masterpiece'. For these students 'creativity' was a lovey-dovey cliche used by people who are not professionally involved with art. It was an essentialist notion related to that false hero called a genius."

"I was so sick of reading Hemingwayesque novels full of muscular lyricism. Contemporary art seemed to be taking more interesting risks than contemporary fiction."

"I was taught that one of the defining premises of modern art was its antagonism to mass culture."

"If the art world shared a principle, it would probably be that nothing is more important than the art itself."


  1. I like that this looks into different aspects/perspectives within the art world. Very clever!

  2. It sounds so good ! Great review !

  3. I love that first quote, this definitely sounds like it was an interesting read and very much unique.

  4. I have no problems with writing in books XD it makes it so much more personal I feel and worth it. Glad you enjoyed this trip into the art world, I loved it when I was in college, so this is always great to see

  5. Well I confess that I'm not sure that it's something for me there but it looks like you had a good time