You like art. You know nothing about it. Where to start?
How about our beginners art reading list! This list is for all the friends over the years who have asked me what they should read to learn about art and the art world. No one wants to flip through a text book to learn about art. You won’t have to, with these books.
Sarah Thornton’s Seven Days in the Art World
Probably the best overview of the contemporary art world in America that’s been written. It’s an easy read and compelling. Thornton’s coming out with a new book this year, so readers should be primed for the next one after having read this. It’s not yet available for pre-sale on Amazon.
Donald Thompson’s The 12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art
A look at the economics of the art world from an outsider’s perspective. Thompson sees art entirely through the lens of money and marketing, which is a little narrow for my taste, but it’s still a good primer. His new book chronicling art world gossip, is slated for release in 2014.
Matthew Collins, This is Modern Art
A six part series for the BBC went along with this book, so one can enjoy Matthew Collins in more than one medium. The book gives people a good idea of the actual stature of artists, so it’s useful in that regard, and improves upon “It Hurts“, a toilet read travelogue.
Dave Hickey, Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy
The best writer the art world’s ever produced by a long shot, but his thinking often doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. That’s disappointing, but the good news is that he makes art totally accessible and doesn’t dumb it down in the process. Invisible dragon is also good.
Julian Stallabrass, Art Incorporated: The Story of Contemporary Art
Art Incorporated tracks the changes in contemporary art over the last twenty years. Stallabrass has enough distance from the market and academia to produce a good book and his attitude is healthy. To summarize said attitude: Yeah, art is fluffy, but let’s treat it like it’s serious, and something serious will result.
His history of Internet art is pretty great too, if out of date. It was published in 2003.