Friday, February 8, 2013

The Business of Art

Published in 2008, the book written by Don Thompson "The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: the Curious Economics of Contemporary Art" is still very relevant and if the 12 million stuffed shark is already old news, the economics of contemporary art is more than ever a fascinating subject.

The author, avoiding technicalities clearly defines the actors, their roles and interactions: galleries, dealers, collectors, auction houses, museums, artists, a world where economics appear to have a different set of rules. The numerous stories or anecdotes, official versions of well-known rumors make the book very entertaining. The postscript is clear: it should not be used as an academic reference.

But here is a cold fact exposed in the book: art is also about money, big money. The numbers keep growing and the zeros multiplying.
Speculation? Business? The analysis of the economically driven art world is skewed by fashion, egos, cunning and The author avoids cynicism when describing with virtuosity questionable transactions where at the end everybody should make money.
A major point made in the book is about the growing slice of the market taken over by the auction houses and the increasing difficulty for galleries and dealers to compete with them. Economics in contemporary art are changing.

This book is essential to understand the business of art... which goes beyond business.

photograph Flickr

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