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Seven Days in the Art World

3.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  32,112 Ratings  ·  513 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 Mur
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ebook, 304 pages
Published November 17th 2008 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Troy
Jan 23, 2016 Troy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art, read-in-2013
I hate this book. Or more accurately, I hate what this book focuses on.

Now I need to state that my hatred is pretty moronic. The book is titled Seven Days in the Art World, which very clearly labels it as a tourist's guidebook, so it might as well be labelled Lonely Planet: Art World, or Let's Go! Art World, or How to Travel the Art World with No Money and Without Leaving Your Couch. It's Seven Days, which is the length of time most tourists give to some "foreign locale." In seven days, you won'
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Mary
Jun 10, 2012 Mary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For someone who "writes about the art world and art market for many publications," Thornton asks some pretty lame questions. She seems, overall, clueless about art. Her deep, probing interview questions are "What do artists learn at art school? What is an artist? How do you become one? What makes a good one?"

Seriously.

Granted, the less the reader knows about art, I imagine, the more interesting the book would be.

She loves describing what people are wearing, as in, "Gladstone is dressed entirely
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Carol
Jan 11, 2012 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary-art
Overview - It's a book about 7 different environments of the art world:
* an auction (at Christie's in NYC) - below
* a MFA crit session (at CalArt) -below
* a visit to the Basel art fair (Switzerland)
* the Turner prize in London
* a visit to Artforum (magazine)
* a visit to the studio of Japanese artist Takashi Murakami
* a trip to the Venice Biennale

Overall it was an easy read, but as an artist it bothered me.
I have been to an art auction at Sothebys and have personally, gone through many criti
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Lance Charnes
Jun 04, 2014 Lance Charnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers who still miss Robin Leach
This is an anthropological study of a murky subculture given to bizarre rituals, riven by tribal conflict and prone to madness...the world of contemporary art. Sarah Thornton, our intrepid guide, comes at this woolly subject from different angles -- seven of them, to be precise, each set in a different city -- shining a light on the major clans and customs. The result is a surprisingly engaging account of how the frothiest end of the art market works (or doesn't), written in a way that a non-ins ...more
Heather
Aug 11, 2008 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got to read an advanced copy of this book and write a blurb about it for the magazine. Sooo, not only did reading this book make me feel extremely cool, it was also a really enjoyable read. Thornton is a "cat on the prowl" in the most important (and impenetrable) centers of the contemporary art world. Her account is gossipy and educational. What could be more fun?
Lobstergirl
Feb 25, 2012 Lobstergirl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Börte Üjin
Shelves: art
Thornton's narrative seemed to lose a little of its zest as it wended to a close. Early chapters on a Christie's auction of contemporary art, and a visit to the Art Basel fair were most interesting. It was instructive to learn how buying from a gallery is different from buying at auction, for example. But chapters on Takashi Murakami, the magazine Artforum, and the Venice Biennale were relatively lustreless, and Thornton felt too much in the narrative; she spoke a lot in the first person, it was ...more
Justin Evans
A fun, deceptively sophisticated jog through one very small aspect of "the art world." And that aspect is, overwhelmingly, the economic. This is a book about how rich people have nothing to do with their enormous amounts of money, so they spend it on objects that may or may not be of any aesthetic value. But they are great status markers. I mean, would you even go to someone's party if they didn't have a Jeff Koons? No way, right?

The first few chapters--one at a contemporary art auction, when a
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Arwen Downs
Jul 05, 2009 Arwen Downs rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am sure that most readers of this book also chose it because we will never be able to attend a Christie's Post-war art auction, the Venice Bienniale, or the Basel Art Fair except vicariously through Sarah Thornton. Lucky for us, she does so with grace and wit and every other attribute I would wish to exhibit when in attendance at one of these prestigious events. Not to mention her uncanny knack for never forgetting an important face or name, which would certainly be my first failing point.

The
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Jim
Oct 09, 2009 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In spite of her apparent hopes that this book might be a ethnology of the art world, it comes across a group of magazine articles that describe seven events -- an auction, an art fair, a biennial, etc. -- and how they contribute to the economics of the art world, how things are sold, and how reputations are established.

Being relatively ignorant about any of this, I was surprised to discover that galleries at the upper echelons don't just sell to the first person willing to write a check, but loo
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Kayl Parker
Jan 14, 2012 Kayl Parker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a Bachelor of Fine Art student, I'll be honest, I didn't expect to learn much about the art world with this book. But I was wrong. The fascinating take on the mysterious workings of the art world was a fresh way of coming to it, through the eyes of a no-nonsense jornalist. I would reccommend this book to almost anyone, from those experienced in the art world to those with no idea at all. The chapters most helpful to those with little experience might include the look into an art school crit, ...more
Richard
Dec 09, 2012 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not necessarily for everyone, but if you are interested in art and how money moves and hype works in the art world it is a delicious and well researched close-up look into all aspects of the art market.

Thornton's book takes a look at the art college, the gallery, the auctioneer, the art show and of course the modern artist's studio to look at the modern art game from many angles.

What impresses is the great level of the interviews with genuine and weighty insiders. The author must be well connec
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Lydia Presley
This book almost went in my unable to finish shelf. First, a bit of history about this book.

The book club I attended chose this book for July's read. It was a complete accident that this book got chosen as we are, technically, a Fiction Book Club. But the cover looked interesting and it was out of most of our normal "comfort" zone, so chosen it was.

I think my perspective on this book was changed from what it might have been due to the book I had read just before it. Since I had just finished a b
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Andypants
Sep 08, 2010 Andypants rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book comes across as a mix of reportage and ethnography, with a feel of being a related series of magazine articles rather than a normally structured non-fiction book. I like that, since most introductions can be skipped if you plan on reading the whole book, and most conclusions are somewhat half-baked.

There were two things that I really liked about the book. The first was her non-judgmental reporting. So many viewpoints were held by so many of the "art world people" that she couldn't pos
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Vtlozano
An entertaining tour of the contemporary art world: from auction to artist to museum to art magazine to art fair. Occasionally lapses into a bit of anthropological analysis, but stays mostly in a strong, detailed, and enjoyable descriptions of the funny animals in the art zoo. Strong reportage.
Ron
Thornton plunges into a full-immersion study of seven radically different environments of the art world, from a Christie's auction to an open crit session at CalArt, from the Japanese studios of Takashi Murakami to the Venice Biennale, and records what she sees and hears. Several sets of wonderful stories emerge, with occasional overlap as a few figures move from one scene to another, but for the most part these are highly disparate snapshots which demonstrate that there is no one "art world," b ...more
Sofia
Dec 13, 2010 Sofia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in the art world mechanics
Shelves: art
Posted on my book blog.

In the world that surrounds us, there are many smaller "worlds" that regular people don't usually have access to. Some, like the medical or forensic experts world, are explored through popular TV shows and mass media culture, so that the general population, not exactly being a part of it, still feels like they have some access and knowledge of it (even if it is of a highly romanticized, flawed and fictionalized account). Such a thing doesn't happen with the art world, the
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Judy
Mar 25, 2009 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are confused by the contemporary art scene, this book is a great introduction. It does not explain the art itself, just the art WORLD. Each chapter represents a "day" (or several) at a different art-related location: an art auction at Christie's in New York, a criticism session in an art class at California Institute of the Arts, the Art Basel Fair in Switzerland, the awarding of the Turner Prize in London, a day at ArtForum (the most respected art magazine in the US), a visit to the stud ...more
mai ahmd
Feb 21, 2012 mai ahmd rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: دراسات
لا تقرأ هذا الكتاب مالم يكن لديك إهتمام حقيقي بالفن التشكيلي
مالم يكن لديك إهتمام بماذا يحدث في كواليس المعارض الفنية
الصراعات بين الفنانين وبين تجار المزادات الفنية ومحرري المجلات
الكاتبة كتبت هذا الكتاب خلال ثلاث سنوات قامت فيه بتجربة باحث حقيقي حيث حضرت صفوف فنية وشاركت أحاسيس الطلاب ومشاعرهم حين يتعرضوا للنقد من قبل زملائهم كما إلتقت بالعديد من الفنانين والمحررين وأصحاب المزدادات الفنية ومحبي التحف وشهدت الكثير من الصراعات كما أجرت العديد من اللقاءات أبرزها كان اللقاء مع الفنان موروكامي صاحب
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cicie
Jan 22, 2009 cicie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
a cursory glimpse into the different facets of the art world today. it was cool to recognize many of the names and i found the chapter on artforum to be the most interesting. the subject of my master's thesis got the last word which was cool however, the author seemed more interested in showing off her connections than making thoughtful observations that could have shed some light on the field. she merely affirmed stereotypes of prototypical "art people" and most of the time it seemed like she j ...more
Christina Furtado
Not the easiest read but definitely enjoyable. Though author Sarah Thornton tends to get caught up in the pretentiousness of the art world, the people she interviewed lend some really great insight into the different facets of a world very few of us know. I can't help but wonder about the many exhibits I've seen over the past few years and be amazed by how little I knew about all the work and politics that went into them... definitely eye opening.
Olivia McHugh
Jul 21, 2015 Olivia McHugh rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
i haven't technically finished reading this book, but i have FINISHED READING THIS BOOK oh my god
Pegasaurus Horsfield
This is a wonderful book about the current art scene. She gives a detailed picture of seven aspects of the art world starting with an auction at Sotheby's. Next is the Crit CalArts run by Michael Asher an artist without a dealer. Artists who have attended memorable & formidable experiences of their lives. Then there's the fair, Art Basel. Blum and Poe partners known for discovering and launching careers of new people.
727-727 by Takashi Murakami, "who worked so hard on this project that sever
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Rachel Aloise
*** 3.5 stars ***

For art enthusiasts the premise of this book is very enticing: seven days behind the scenes in different, exclusive, art world environments. I most enjoyed the chapters about an art auction at Christie’s, the Turner prize as well as a visit of the studios of Takashi Murakami.

The chapter on Artforum made me run out and get the latest copy of the magazine. (I admit, for the ads only and yes, they are terrific)

The vapid posing occasionally had me cringing, especially in the in the
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Abbi Dion
A terrific read. Some of Thornton's interviews contain breathtaking definitions and questions of art and/or the artist.

"A protest against forgetting" - Eric Hobsbawn, quoted by Hans Ulrich Obrist
"[...] do you choose somebody to make history or do you confirm history?" Andrea Rose
"I was taught that one of the defining premises of modern art was its antagonism to mass culture [...] I could argue that Takashi is working within the system only to subvert it. But this idea of subversive complicity is
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Mayee
Aug 26, 2011 Mayee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A survey of the contemporary art world through an enthnographic study of various art scenes such as the auction, the student crit session, the art fair (Turner prize), the journal (Artforum), the artist's studio and the Biennale, this book is more entertaining than analytically critical due to its journalistic descriptions and the interview soundbites from prominent figures. Thornton's slightly dry, mostly impassive tone, serves to highlight the various (sometimes incongruous) perspectives the d ...more
Brian
There's something thoroughly depressing about this book - from the perspective of someone who makes art, anyway. The in-your-face presentation of the artist as a pawn in so many other profiteering individual's plans is, I suppose, nothing new, but this book really drives it home. For 200 pages, that is. In the long run, it arms you with knowledge that you certainly will somehow benefit from, be this the world that you desire to participate in (in any capacity). Sarah Thornton's caveat in the aft ...more
Lani
Aug 13, 2009 Lani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sarah Thornton plunges herself into the inner workings of the fine arts world; from crit class to Christies to the bienale... It's a bit of a joy to read as an arts administrator myself, though while she tries to "go behind the glam" of the art world, she definitely hypes it herself. I also think she leaves out some key aspects to the actual commodities of the art world. She sticks to interviewing super famous artists, patrons, and curators, while I think it would have been nice to mix in quotes ...more
Klavdiya Fokina
Feb 24, 2016 Klavdiya Fokina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Книга неплоха для первоначального погружения в тему современного искусства. Для профессионалов простовата, для новичков - самое то.
Будучи изначально социологом, автор рассматривает разные аспекты современного искусства как социальные контексты. В итоге получается подобие этнографического исследования и легкого наброска о том, что это за мир современного искусства.
Sara
Mar 06, 2016 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about the different players that make up the art world from the artists themselves, to dealers, to collectors, to critics and more. This was a very interesting read to learn all of the players and how they interact. The author conducted tons of interviews to capture the stories and I found it fascinating the way the "players" talked about their roles. There is an inherent tension between the art and the business and it was insightful to read how they justify and articulate their own ...more
Sarah
Oct 13, 2010 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic overview of the various facets of and personalities behind the incestuous art world. Some chapters are more successful than others in terms of what Thornton is able to accomplish and portray within them, but it flies by quickly by virtue of the format (spending one chapter per division). Recommended, and as a former art history major, definitely the type of book I wish I had read during college. It imparts a better understanding of the realities of the industry than routinely memoriz ...more
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Sarah Thornton was the chief writer on contemporary art for The Economist. She holds a BA in art history and a PhD in sociology.
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“The term bohemian has a bad reputation because it's allied to myriad clichés, but Parisians originally adopted the term, associated with nomadic Gypsies, to describe artists and writers who stayed up all night and ignored the pressures of the industrial world.” 17 likes
“Although the art world reveres the unconventional, it is rife with conformity. Artists make work that "looks like art" and behave in ways that enhance stereotypes. Curators pander to the expectations of their peers and their museum boards. Collectors run in herds to buy work by a handful of fashionable painters. Critics stick their finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing so as to "get it right". Originality is not always rewarded, but some people take real risks and innovate, which gives a raison d'être to the rest.” 8 likes
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