Book Review: Seven Days in the Art World

Published in the year 2008, this wonderful attempt by Sarah Thornton to provide readers with wonderful imagination to what it is like to re-live the past moments is truly fascinating. This book explores a day in the different events of the “art world” which includes a day Christie's Post-War art auction, the Venice Biennale, or the Basel Art Fair, which I believe is what caught the reader’s attention. In some areas, the book brings out anthropological analysis but strongly focuses on detailed descriptions. Sarah has beautifully interviewed crucial people from the art world considering the Auction chapter, it was very brave of her to get numerous interviews which absolutely brought immense value to understand the behind-the-scenes of these events. That being said, she has interviewed over two-hundred and fifty people over these years while writing which of course makes it worth the read. The highlight of these interviews was the fact that she left the conclusions of these interviews to the readers. I believe this was so because it is very hard to state one conclusion.

Sarah has done an excellent job in demystifying the way money fluctuates in the art world, what makes an artwork valuable? What art events matter the most to the public and art buyers? What struck me the most is how Sarah differentiated the “Art World” and the “Art Market”, explaining the Art Market includes roles like dealers, collectors, and auction house experts whereas the Art World includes the critics, curators, and artists. This distinction left me wondering where do art lovers or admirers stand? Some artworks hold the highest priced labels that they cannot be afforded by everyone, considering that not everyone is willing to buy an artwork but to just admire the beauty of its existence in the world, and not all the artworks are available to be purchased. Where do they stand then?

Since this book was published in 2008, I believe Sarah is talking about art in the late1900s or in the early 2000s where she stated that how art only span famous in the art capitals like New York, London, Los Angeles, and Berlin. Just addressing some questions that occurred to me while reading. Although it has been over thirteen years, I am wondering how much has changed? The art has of course grown immensely, but they are always clustered in capital cities of the world. Any large-scale events such as biennales, auctions, fairs are mostly found in the capital cities. How many museums in the world afford to loan or collect expensive artworks? Not all, I am guessing. How many upcoming artists get the opportunity to display their artworks in the most recognized museums? This demonstrates how “art” can be both powerful and weak factors to any business in the art industry.

This book did make me wonder so many things and question myself with the art world that I am living in, or even if I am yet? Sarah has done an incredible job in highlighting important events and bringing out some crucial information, which she did so with grace and wit. It was a fascinating read, which kept me going and curious about what will happen next, who will we meet next. I recommend this book for anyone who would like to witness the Contemporary art world with the Christie’s Post-War auction, Venice Biennale, Basel Art Fair. The way Sarah has written this book completely brings out beautiful images as if, we are in the room.

Book Details: Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton

2008, W. W. Norton & Company Ltd.

Where to find this book:

So much art & So little time!


© 2021 by, Aishwarya Kulkarni

All rights reserved.

Get the next review straight to your mailbox

Thanks for submitting!