In this week’s blog Assistant Curator, Victoria Howarth, peers inside our Book of the Month, Sarah Thornton’s Seven Days in the Art World.

" /> In this week’s blog Assistant Curator, Victoria Howarth, peers inside our Book of the Month, Sarah Thornton’s Seven Days in the Art World.

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BOOK OF THE MONTH

In this week’s blog Assistant Curator, Victoria Howarth, peers inside our Book of the Month, Sarah Thornton’s Seven Days in the Art World.

Seven Days in the Art World
RRP: £8.99 (10% off for Jerwood Gallery Members)
 
As a sociologist, writer, ethnographer and art historian, Sarah Thornton has the perfect background for investigating the fascinating and often baffling inner workings of the art world.  Her book Seven Days in the Art World pulls together five years of research, over 200 interviews, and takes the reader on a journey from London to LA, Tokyo to Venice.  Thornton sums up the art market in one sentence: ‘The art market is a complex beast that is mutating all the time.  It is murky and inefficient, social and global.’

The book is structured into seven chapters, each exploring one ‘day’.  Thornton thinks of each chapter as a group portrait, and she certainly presents a captivating picture.  Chapter 1 describes an auction at Christies, New York; Chapter 2 is based in a ‘crit’ class at the California Institute of the Arts; Chapter 3 explores the Basel Art Fair; Chapter 4 delves into the Turner Prize; Chapter 5 takes readers behind the scenes at the world’s most successful art magazine; Chapter 6 visits Takashi Murakami’s three Japanese studios; and for the final ‘day’, Thornton choses what could be viewed as a culmination of the preceding chapters – the Venice Biennale.

The book introduces a wide range of art world characters: museum Directors, artists, collectors, commercial gallerists, critics, curators, students, auctioneers, studio assistants – almost all with their real names and personalities.  Including sections from her interviews, Thornton presents multiple viewpoints and voices, from the shockingly irreverent to the disarmingly earnest.  At the auction in Chapter 1, Thornton speaks to a dealer who describes proceedings as ‘a tableau vivant of pretentious greed’, while the artist Keith Tyson expresses his belief in the enduring power of art 'Everything else is trying to sell you something else.  Art is trying to sell you yourself.  That’s what is different about it.  Art is what makes life worth living.’ 

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26 March, 2015
Written by Victoria Howarth