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Boom: Mad Money, Mega Dealers, and the Rise of Contemporary Art

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  377 ratings  ·  47 reviews
The meteoric rise of the largest unregulated financial market in the world-for contemporary art-is driven by a few passionate, guileful, and very hard-nosed dealers. They can make and break careers and fortunes.

The contemporary art market is an international juggernaut, throwing off multimillion-dollar deals as wealthy buyers move from fair to fair, auction to auction, pa
Kindle Edition, 464 pages
Published May 21st 2019 by PublicAffairs
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: four-stars-books
4 " gossipy, exhaustive,incredulous" stars !!

The 2019 Jeez Louise Award

Addendum: March 30, 2020- the BF and I watched a fabulous doc that would be a really good companion to this book. The title is Blurred Lines and here is a preview

Thank you to Netgalley, the author and Perseus Books for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book was released on 21 May, 2019 and is currently available

Wherever I travel, I go to galleries and museums
Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell

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I am slightly ashamed to admit that for the longest time, I claimed not to like modern art because all I knew about modern art came from representations by its critics and I was thinking that all of it was just blank canvases splashed with paint, or clear plastic glasses filled with dish detergent and a single floating golf ball, with titles like Existentialism #2 or Cry, Aphrodite. Of course, I realize now that that's a bit like saying
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A much more compelling read than I had expected. If you ever cracked open an art book featuring a painter from the 1950s and up – Rothko, Basquiat, Doig, Murakami, anyone whose work ever transited by New York, really – or a movement to which they are associated, chances are an art dealer was mentioned at some point. Perhaps Leo Castelli for one, but also a slew of others, if only in passing. Larry Gagosian for sure, if the art you read about was recent, or Gavin Brown, maybe.

In Boom: Mad Money,
Elliot Ackerman
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Boom is not only a modern history of the art world, filled with rich details, revealing anecdotes, as compelling told by Shnayerson, but it's also an examination of mass culture and mass consciousness. While reading this book I couldn't help but feel as though the rarefied art world Shnayerson turned his eye to became a meta-narrative for the hype-culture our society has mutated into.
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Too long and too much detail about the boring minutiae of the business dealings and ups and downs of the big-shot New York art dealers of the post war period. The earlier sections were interesting but too much time on petty gossip - not even good gossip - about mega-dealer Larry Gagosian. I was hoping for a more jaundiced eye, such as that of Don Thompson's $12 Million Dollar Stuffed Shark. A google reminded me who author Shnayerson is: a Vanity Fair writer, a magazine which has some excellent w ...more
Melissa Marie
This is an illustrious book (pun intended) highlighting all of the major players of the contemporary art world. If you have an interest in the art world but are a beginner, this could be an overwhelming but at the same time, provides all of the history for you to get up-to-speed. Schnayerson shares the most exciting stories and lives of the most influential dealers, critics, and collectors. This is not to forget the artists who were the subject of this art period such as de Kooning, Rauschenberg ...more
This book approaches art history a different way, through an emphasis on the power brokering of powerful dealers like Castelli and Gagosian. These brokers were important in two ways: they found, nurtured, or poached promising artists, thereby influencing the trends of contemporary art through their choices of artists and art schools to provide crucial gallery space, media space, or stipend; and they served as mediators between artist and wealthy collectors that ultimately led to the trend of ext ...more
Tejas Sathian
Overview of the contemporary art market, through the lens of the dealers who helped to build the market that we know now. I was a bit disappointed that the book delivered less of the understanding of the business of the art world and structure of the art market, and ended up being mostly a collection of name drops and anecdotes of dealers and artists - not the high level overview and history of the market that I was hoping for. But its portrayal of Gagosian (its central figure) was full of inter ...more
Richie T.
Chronology of art dealings in New York from the 1970s to the present, focusing on the rise of the four current mega-dealers. As others have mentioned, the account is exhaustive to a fault, with only passing reference to the art movements and artworks, and virtually no comment or evaluation on the author's part, so this reads more like the society pages than art history. Not for anyone unfamiliar with contemporary art (unless you don't mind constantly looking up particular artists or art pieces a ...more
This book is a bit like learning algebra. You can’t skim over one chapter and expect to keep up with the remaining information that inevitably faces you.

I wanted to finish this book, I swear. However, I skimmed a bit in the first chapter and I never really got caught up. Yes, I could have gone back and reread everything again, but my heart was not in it.

I have a considerable love for fine artists and fine art in general. With that said, I struggled to connect to the artists, and gallery owners
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
I can't really recommend this to anyone. It is about the business of art, but instead of writing about the art or the personalities, Shnayerson seems most dedicated to detailing real-estate transactions (galleries opening in new neighborhoods, etc.). Most of the reporting seems to be second-hand, based on news stories instead of on direct interviews, so the characters stay very flat. There is little narrative.

For the general reader interested in the economics of art, I would recommend instead "
Patrick Todd
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
I couldn't finish this book. The level of meaningless detail became overwhelming, so I decided to pull the plug about half-way through. I did learn something though and have a better appreciation of the art market, particularly the dealers that are such a heavy influence.
Maya Man
I heard about this book after going to a talk at Google between the author and Marc Glimcher of Pace Gallery. Since getting into reading more about art history, I’ve been loving learning about artists but feeling like I was missing out on the whole art market component. Like you hear about artwork selling for these crazy prices and go to museums and see work by the hottest contemporary artists but how did all of this play out? The process has always seemed so opaque to me, but reading this helpe ...more
Aug 14, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A non-fiction survey of 20th century contemporary artists and their dealers. It's an epic, sweeping recent history of all the movers and shakers that have helped make contemporary art popular, prominent, and most of all profitable.

It's a funny thing to consider the intersection of art and business, because it feels so wrong, doesn't it? Business and art are 2 opposite concepts. Artists are mercurial, business is logic and numbers. But it's so interesting to read and think about how to put a pric
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art-history, museums
What a phenomenal book; BOOM: Mad Money, Mega Dealers and the Rise of Contemporary Art gives the reader a behind-the-scenes scoop on the art market—the buying and selling of art, the artists, the dealers and collectors. I say ‘collectors’ but what’s really going on is that there are a category of collectors with significant net worth who use art as financial vehicles—as a place to park their money, to invest, and/or to speculate. Art has become a commodity. Author Shnayerson does a marvelous job ...more
This is a good overview of the last 60-odd years of the contemporary art market, from its inception in postwar America. It is very readable, organized chronologically, and strictures around the major “players” (the mega-dealers). But what the book crucially lacks is a macroscopic lens: a larger perspective allowing it to make sense of the tidal shifts in the market. The perspective chosen by the author is entirely anecdotal, and most of it could be gleaned from a careful reading of the art press ...more
Oct 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was interesting, but missing something important that would have made it much more so for me. It’s a detailed story of the post-war boom in modern art and its later manifestations, focusing on the most important dealers who fostered new artists and the artists themselves. It covers a time span in which the prices for paintings by the best artists rose from under $1,000 to over $100,000,000, and in which artists switched dealers and dealers poached artists from other dealers with little. The ...more
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is not as thorough as "Ninth Street Women" which charted the rise of art in New York City from 1950-1980s through the lives of five artists, but "Boom" is the best book I've found for understanding the art galleries especially in New York from 1947-present. So much has changed from five New York galleries in the 1950s to 1500 galleries there today. Of these, the international Gagosian, Wirth, Zwirner and Pace galleries handle most of the multi-million dollar deals, laundering money wor ...more
Jul 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Boom" is a thorough study of the business of contemporary Art. Michael Shnayerson delves inside the rising prices of both the modern and contemporary global art markets. This book almost reads like a novel, but the extensive study of living artists and their works for sale is very real. This isn't a book about modern Art History per se. The global art market and the place of galleries, dealers, and auction houses is very much a large portion of current art chronicles. For anyone who enjoys the ...more
John Spiller
"Boom" examines the evolution of the "art world" into the "art market". Shnayerson gives a comprehensive -- too comprehensive -- account of how the economics of art have dramatically changed from post WWII to the present. By too comprehensive, I mean that in his quest to provide the definitive account of the art market, Shnayerson felt compelled to squeeze in a mention of every major dealer, even if they are only mentioned in passing, which tended to make the narrative overlong and leaden. The m ...more
Lael Braday
Dec 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Follow the money as you read of the origins of art as a market in NYC and around the globe, begetting dealer, galleries, and collectors, and making celebrities of contemporary artists. Shnayerson takes Dear Reader through a timeline of the rise of art as investment, exposing the politics behind the scenes, and carefully rendering the oft tenuous dealer-artist relationships. It’s an interesting read for anyone if you can keep track of the names! I was fortunate to receive a copy from PublicAffair ...more
Joe Meyers
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent account of the New York art scene from the post WWII era to today. Schnayerson shows how a small & tight knit group of artists that included Jackson Pollock exploded into a global multi-billion dollar business. The book traces the rise of dealers such as Leo Castelli & Larry Gagosian who were instrumental in making a boom market out of seemingly intangible aesthetic creations. Along the way we get fascinating portraits of key artist/entrepreneurs such as Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons & Damie ...more
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, I enjoyed this book! I definitely recommend reading this only if you have an interest in the art world or want to expand upon your knowledge of contemporary art. Maybe that's a given though. This well-written book covers the topic and history of contemporary art well. Read the rest of my review here: ...more
Fraser Kinnear
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art, business
Very fun, gossipy look into the economics of the contemporary art world. Gagosian dominates most of the book, but other NYC & LA dealers play a role. My wife worked in this industry for the first three years I knew her, and I wish I'd had this book when we were dating. I wouldn't have enjoyed this nearly as much if I hadn't seen a lot of this first- and second-hand. ...more
Kingsley Oteng
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art
Curious ! I enjoyed its intensity, discussion around how art has evolved and its current baggage/significance. This was an easy read all-in, reminding me somewhat of books following the financial crises, say “The Big Short”. The cover work is great, a nod to Dan Flavin presumably. Great historical back-drop to the modern and contemporary art movements mainly from an artists perspective, particularly as a pictorial trope of 1) London, 2) New York and 3) Los Angeles.
Dereck Blackburn
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Someone mentioned this was gossipy. That’s absolutely true. But it’s also an incredible look into the influence of money in culture. I absolutely love modern and contemporary Art and feel somewhat spoiled living near so many galleries and museums dedicated to art from the last 100 years. Reading this book helped me understand the rivers that run beneath that culture.
Krista Park
A history of contemporary art that dabbles in cultural landscapes, cultural geography, economics, and media-studies. A good history that thinks critically about issues of gender, race, and class. It manages to make sense, as a history, even if you only know a bit about the art itself.
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
It's hard to read about art without a visual accompaniment, and some pre-existing art history background. I found parts of this to be interesting, but there was such a wide cast of characters. There was more minutia than a sense of the macro trends.
Sharon Twigg-Smith
For anyone interested in the world of contemporary art and what has transpired in the marketplace, this is a must-read. Especially if you know the players. Well researched.
Sue Dale
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art
Boom! What a ride. A great look at the rise & rise. I enjoyed the read with a good grip on Google to familiarise myself with works. I feel a little closer to understanding the global market. ...more
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