Book Review: 7 Days in the Art World
This week I read 7 Days in the Art World and have all sorts of thoughts, ha ha ha.
In this book the author becomes a fly on the wall in 7 "art world" environments. These include an art auction, an MFA critique, an international art fair, the selection of an art prize, an art magazine, a studio visit, and finally an art Biennale.
I actually have experience working in similar "art world" environments here in Chicago. Mind you, not the same places she went...but similar. As a result I've been debating how to discuss this book because... I think it can be damaging to the arts. I fear readers will approach this book hoping to get an insiders views of the "art world" but this book is NOT that. It's 1 person's view of going to ONLY 7 events.
The author does a good job of describing the scene and scored some great people to interview but the overall tone is elitist and academic. It's all the stereotypes that make people disconnect from visual art.
Her definition of what constitutes the "art world" is limiting. Where are the non-profits, the conservators, the online galleries, grants, the art educators this list can go on and on. The real "art world" is dynamic and multi-faceted. She only covers a teeny tiny sliver of the "art world".
It lacks passion for the industry. Too many sections complaining about how the author's feet hurt at the art fair and how sleepy she was at the art critique. She also failed to communicate the passion those in the industry have for art. I've certainly worked with people similar to those she profiled and I don't doubt that even those I disagreed with had a passion for the art on display. A passion for art isn't captured in this book.
A struggle in the complete and inclusive "art world" is funding, respect, and support. Unfortunately, this book describes only the small sliver of the "art world" that is financially robust (or at least was between 2004 and 2007 when these events were attended).
In my opinion, readers should remember what this book is. It's 1 person's observations from going to only 7 types of art events. It will NOT give you a full picture of what the "art world" is like.