I seem to be stuck in a rut reading nonfiction these days, but I don’t mind so much when the nonfiction is practically as entertaining as fiction. (And that’s not hard when your fiction reading amounts to keeping up with your tenth grade daughter’s reading list – Brave New World? Depressing and not even that well-written… I do like Cry My Beloved Country though.)

Sarah Thornton, who has a B.A. in art history and a Ph.D. in cultural sociology, has deconstructed the contemporary art world by investigating seven of its most famous and arguably most important indicators: the Christie’s auction, a Cal Arts art crit, the Basal Art Fair, the Turner Prize, ArtForum magazine,  a famous art studio (Takashi Murakami’s), and the Venice Biennale. If you are involved in the art world in any way, you will enjoy this revealing fast read – and figuratively brushing shoulders with some of today’s major players (the book is based on 250+ high profile interviews).

Some quotes:

Leslie Dick on What is an artist?: “The work you do as an artist is really play, but it is play in the most serious sense…Like when  two-year old discovers how to make a tower out of blocks. It is no half-hearted thing. You are materializing – taking something from the inside and putting it out into the world so that you can be relieved of it.”

Turner Prize winning painter Tomma Abts: “My work hovers between illusion and object, and it reminds you of things”…”For example, I create a daylingt effect or a feeling of movement. Some shapes even have shadows.”…” I always work inside out. I know it’s finished when the work feels independent of me.”

[All Abts’ paintings are given names from a dictionary of German first names.]

Takashi Murakami: “An artist is a necromancer.”…”We define subculture as a cool culture from abroad, but otaku is an uncool indigenous culture. My mentality came from those animation geeks. I idled my time, imagining that Japan was a Philip K. Dick world.”…” An artist is someone who understands the border between this one and that one – or someone who makes an effort to know it.”

Clicking on this image will take to the site from whence it came.

Clicking on this image will take to the site from whence it came.

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