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A shark that is not alone swimming in those waters...
on October 25, 2008
Written by an economist who had access to the most important actors (collectors, dealers, auctioneers, curators, art fair organizers...) while doing his research, this book is an in-depth study of the way the contemporary art market functions, the part played by auction houses, dealers, big collectors, museums, the sometimes incestuous relationship that exists between all of them, how art is priced, how auctions are organized (on and off the scene), how gallery shows are sold (or pre-sold), the importance of art branding in creating an artist's reputation (the brand being the auction house, the gallery, the artist himself, a museum, or even a collector if he is important enough)and, most importantly, how these art brands are created. One insightful conclusion is that the art market, and contemporary art in particular, is as much brand-driven as any other high-end luxury market. Through case studies (the dealers Larry Gagosian or Jay Joplin, the artists Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Jeff Koons or Andy Warhol, the auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's, the collectors Charles Saatchi or Ronald Lauder...) and broader considerations on the overall economics of art, the author manages to write a book which is at the same time well informed (with some slight spelling mistakes though, e.g. the Portuguese collector Jose Berardo becoming "Joe Bernardo", or the dealer Faggionato sometimes mistakenly spelt "Faccionato"), to the point and easy to read. Among the more than twenty books available on this topic on Amazon's, this one is the best in my opinion (and I've read quite a few...).