Aug 26, 11
Read in August, 2011
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 different players bring to the art world: we see the somewhat aggressive ambition of the bidding collector crowd high on the adrenaline of the hunt of a desirable acquisition, the eccentric absurdity of the meandering Crit session and the dreams of the young artist, and also the anxieties of judges and shortlisted candidates amidst the hype of the Turner Prize proceedings. We are also privy to the reasons behind Artforum's advertising layouts as well as its editorial philosophy, the workings of hot Japanese artist Takashi Murakami and his company, along with his interaction with his dealers, as well as the unspoken hierarchies of artists, curators and collectors that undergird the action behind the festive circus of the Venice Biennale. Thornton consistently explores a tension between the idealistic, almost religious beliefs of certain players in the art world, and the blatant machinery of commercial interest behind the production, presentation and consumption of art.