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True Colors: The Real Life of the Art World Paperback – September 2, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; First Paperback Edition edition (September 2, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871137259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871137258
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #880,071 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This sometimes hilarious, sometimes scathing book is the most honest account to be found of the fashionable, fabulous, and often ugly New York art world of the last quarter century. This was the first time in history when visual artists came fully under the glare of the media and evolved into pop cultural figures. Here are Andy, Jean-Michel, Leo, and Julian as only art and cultural critic Anthony Haden-Guest can present them. Revealing anecdotes (and gossip) offer a sense of how the art world really works, its politics, its scene, and how artists survive in it or not. Wry, witty, and insightful, Hayden-Guest provides an absorbing narrative on how the art world got the way it is and where it is likely to go from here. This fresh look into art and artists is quite a thing apart from studying at the museum or library; True Colors makes you feel genuinely present at the most chi-chi art opening or cocktail party in town. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Haden-Guest's gossipy and witty tour of the contemporary art scene, focusing on New York City with forays to California, Paris and elsewhere, probes a fickle art market where trends, connections, galleries and critics make or break reputations. It opens in the late 1960s, as conceptualists, performance artists and surrealists rebel against minimalism; moves through a flurry of movements from neo-expressionism to earthworks and graffiti art; and closes with a report on the 1993 Venice Biennale and a skeptical look at 1990s' developments, including confessional and victim art, ecological, computer and technological art. In a torrent of conversations, interviews, anecdotes, capsule bios and critical asides, Haden-Guest (Bad Dreams), an art and cultural critic who writes for the New Yorker and Vanity Fair, profiles dozens of well-known artists such as Cindy Sherman, Keith Haring, Julian Schnabel, Malcolm Morley, Donald Judd, James Turrell, Jeff Koons and Jean-Michel Basquiat. His engaging insider's account will appeal most to those already familiar with this scene.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 7, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This is the first book that ties together the art movements from the last three decades with the happenings in the art market, which in turn shaped part of the movements. Anthony Haden-Guest was and is part of this world himself, so you're getting a first person account, not merely a list of events accumulated by a researcher. Haden-Guest very nicely places all the major happenings and people in a row and relates them to eachother. Entertainingly written too! Even if you already know all about who was who in the artworld, this is still a fun read.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By "bartonclark" on July 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
An engaging overview of the N.Y. art scene. Especially nice is how Haden-Guest uses gossip and fact to give an entertaining explanation to the rise of such 80s figures as Jeff Koons. I especially enjoyed his chapter on Donald Judd and other chapters on early Conceptualists and how that genre has morped over the past 3 decades. These are not hard core critical essays! But that is not what I was looking for. Recommended to the casual art fan like myself.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dave Kuhlman on July 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
What it's about -- The world of contemporary art in New York, NY,
including the artists, their work, the dealers, the galleries, and
a bit about who is buying it.

The (sub-)movements in the contemporary art movement are mentioned,
and you will learn something about a few of them. But, for a more
complete picture, visit the "Contemporary Art" page at Wikipedia
([...]) and look for the
table of sub-movements.

Some of the characters and the "works of art" that they've produced
are outlandish. I put "works of art" in quotes, because you will
need a very loose definition of "works of art" if you want to cover
some of these objects. In fact, you might need something as broad
and inclusive as "whatever is produced by someone who calls
him/herself an artist and calls what they've done 'art'". Or, an
alternative definition that might be broad enough to include the
works discussed could be "it's art if it's sold in an art gallery
and has a frame around it (or is marked off in some other way)".
And, if fact, some of the "works" are not objects at all; they
were, for example, performances. Others were objects, but were
intentionally designed to be un-sale-able, perhaps by being
impermanent.

For most of the works discussed the idea is much more significant
than the handiwork and craftsmanship required to produce it.

But, then, for me, that is part of the value of this book: it
encourages me to think about what qualifies as art and about what
is valuable in art. With respect to the contemporary art discussed
by Haden-Guest, the qualities that make this art valuable genuinely
are questionable. It certainly isn't beauty.
Read more ›
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21 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Real New York Painter on August 22, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Trashy & obsequious. A gossipy journal of obliquely connected anecdotes about characters from the 80s and 90s art world, most of whom have lost most of their importance, and some of whom are even dead now. Begins with a section on the 70s minimalists and conceptualists, etc., by way of introduction. . . Not lacking in intelligence, but not employing much of it either. Haden-Guest places himself more strategically in the narrative than he most likely was in reality, but what journalist doesen't? Don't expect anything memorable or important (except perhaps the section on Donald Judd's various amusing feuds with native Texans and his rich European benefactors). I suppose it makes for good beach reading for those with a taste for the lurid. Be advised that it's also hopelessly dated (not documenting anything after the mid-nineties), which puts it in a strange position: it offers little information of historical significance, yet in the terms of the world it documents is now filled with ancient history! In short, an ephemeral amusement.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Brown on September 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a book to inhale and savor, evocative of the 70s-80s-90s Art World Times, full of insight and things-around-the-corner. Gives good background understanding to the subsequent Wasteland in the art scene, and more recent developments.
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