I’ve covered quite a few nonfiction books on Trends & Tolstoy (The Romanov Sisters, Textile and Fashion Arts, Black Mass, etc.) but this one is a very different breed. Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton is a mix of an art review, a narrative nonfiction story, a memoir, and a high society gossip site, and it’s worth every page. Thornton takes you on a journey with her through seven major events in the art world: the Auction, the Crit, the Fair, the Prize, the Magazine, the Studio Visit, and the Biennale. These represent the major moments in an artist’s career (if they’re lucky) and also the major events on the artistic social calendar.
The art world has come to have some of the same elitist qualities and social circles as the fashion world, which inspires such lines as, “[I]t’s dangerous to wear Prada…. You might get caught in the same outfit as three members of Christie’s staff.” But while the book exposes the social trappings of the medium, it also reveals the pure players (typically artists and sometimes collectors) who are in it for the love of art.
Having experienced the art world on a much smaller scale during my time writing for a local art magazine, I can attest that this portrait is dead on. Thornton takes a year’s worth of champagne and critical debate and condenses it into a playful 250-page romp. I highly recommend this book to those who are involved in the art world and want a good laugh, and to those who are unfamiliar and want to learn the insider scoop. It’s as entertaining as fiction but with all the journalist research of a history book.
Photo is mine.