Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Starred Review. ...Thornton, a contributor to and the , presents an astute and often entertaining ethnography of this status-driven world. ... Thornton offers an elegant, evocative, sardonic view into some of the art world's most prestigious institutions." Publishers Weekly
Named one of the best art books of 2008 by The New York Timesand The Sunday Times[London]: 'An indelible portrait of a peculiar society."Vogue
'An indelible portrait of a peculiar society."Vogue
A fly-on-the-wall account of the smart and strange subcultures that make, trade, curate, collect, and hype contemporary art.
About the Author
Sarah Thornton is a freelance writer who contributes to The New Yorker, BBC-TV, and Artforum.com. She has degrees in art history and sociology. She lives in London.