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“Each chapter in Thornton's new book is a separate essay about a particular aspect of the art world, and a day spent there. We are shown both the sincerely creative and the unbelievably pretentious, the front-page headliners and the little-known people behind the scenes. What a great idea for a book!”
— Anne Wilde, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop, Mequon, WI
The art market has been booming. Museum attendance is surging. More people than ever call themselves artists. Contemporary art has become a mass entertainment, a luxury good, a job description, and, for some, a kind of alternative religion.
In a series of beautifully paced narratives, Sarah Thornton investigates the drama of a Christie's auction, the workings in Takashi Murakami's studios, the elite at the Basel Art Fair, the eccentricities of Artforum magazine, the competition behind an important art prize, life in a notorious art-school seminar, and the wonderland of the Venice Biennale. She reveals the new dynamics of creativity, taste, status, money, and the search for meaning in life. A judicious and juicy account of the institutions that have the power to shape art history, based on hundreds of interviews with high-profile players, Thornton's entertaining ethnography will change the way you look at contemporary culture.