Thursday, February 19, 2009

Review: Seven Days in the Art World

Just read Sarah Thornton's Seven Days in the Art World, which is a look at the art world from seven different perspectives. The Barnes and Noble review provides a pretty good synopsis:

Each of the book's seven chapters follows the author over a single day spent in one of the art world's constituent provinces: a Christie's auction; a CalArts group crit; Art Basel; the Tate Museum's presentation of the Turner Prize; the offices of ArtForum; a studio visit with artist rex Takashi Murakami; and the Venice Biennale.

The author calls the work an ethnography and says that she worked as a participant observer in a few of the places mentioned; she does not highlight her methodology in the text (in detail), however, and I would have been interested in hearing more about it. In structuring her book in terms of seven days, she somewhat limits what she can say about each venue as she has, really, only one day to trace out for the reader. Of course, she's picked important days, so it does make sense, but I would have appreciated a slightly thicker description here and there. That would have made the book more formal or scholarly, though, so I see why she chose not to go that way.

It's neat to see the art world from varying perspectives. I don't know much about contemporary art, so I enjoyed learning about the artists she mentioned. I did learn that I never ever want to go to art school: an unstructured daylong critique session (like the the one she attended at CalArts) would probably be my idea of hell.

1 comment:

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