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6 Best Books to Read on the Art Market

Today we’re back to talking about a topic that I love very much: 6 Best Books to Read on the Art Market. In fact, I recommend books on the art market that you absolutely must read if you want to know a little more.

As I told you in my last post on 5 books for art lovers for me the reading goes a bit ‘in periods. Sometimes I manage to carve out time early in the morning or on the subway, other times in the evening before bed. A lot depends on your commitments. But when I can I often read books related to the art world. 

Many have been written on the modern and contemporary art market, published in different languages. In my opinion, the ones I have chosen give a good idea of ​​how an auction, a fair or the purchase of works in general works. Some are more related to the history and anecdotes of certain sales famous in all the newspapers, others instead to small curiosities for insiders. So let’s get started!

6 Best Books to Read on the Art Market | The 12 Million Dollar Jaws

The first book I suggest is ‘s $12 Million Jaws Don ThompsonI think it’s the best known book on the subject and several years have passed since its publication, but in the end some stories never fade and they explain some mechanisms of art well. In each chapter the relationships between the most interesting figures in contemporary art are told through true events: artists such as Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin and gallery owners and collectors such as Saatchi. 

Then for those curious to find out more about the highest paid works in the world, the sales of many works are told, including Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer Klimt’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone living Damien Hirst’s 

Finally, the book is interesting because it deals with the theme of branding applied to art. The idea is discussed that if a work is created by a certain artist, or sold by a certain auction house or exhibited in a certain museum, it will increase in price because these actions bring with them the popularity and strength of the brands with which the work interacted.

6 Best Books to Read on the Art Market | The Contemporary Art System

The second book I want to tell you about is system of contemporary art Francesco Poli’sIt is not a book exclusively on the market and the sales of works but tells of the whole contemporary art system. And from my point of view you can’t do without it if you want to know the market. The first two chapters are dedicated to the birth of the contemporary art market and to the definition of a work of art. In the following chapters, on the other hand, the role of each actor in the system is told in sales, therefore galleries and auction houses, but also in dissemination, therefore museums and magazines. The chapter on museums is divided between the history of its birth and today’s public, so in my opinion it is one of the most interesting. An entire final chapter is dedicated to the artist, his role in society and his education. The cut is not only in the Italian world but has an international vision, so I’m sure you will like it.

6 Best Books to Read on the Art Market | Breakfast at Sotheby’s

The third book I suggest is in English and is called Breakfast at Sotheby’s by Philip Hook. The subtitle of the book “The world of art from A to Z” explains right from the start what it is about. Unlike the previous ones, this text is in fact structured as a kind of art vocabulary, divided into sections. I like the idea because it goes beyond the novel or the university essay and you can decide whether to read it all or jump from one term to another. If you are interested exclusively in the art market, the last section is entitled “Market Weather” and is the one for you. The concepts of dealers, emerging markets and investments are explained. But more general themes are also addressed, such as that of art as a status symbol or the figure of the collector. The only defect of this book is that sometimes it remains a bit superficial or too tied to the anecdote that serves to explain the term, but it can also be seen as a positive side if one tries to have a generalist idea and does not want to something sought after. 

6 Best Books to Read on the Art Market | Investing in art

The fourth book is the one from which I learned everything I knew about the art market before starting to work for years in this world. Is titled Investing in the art of Claudio Borghi. This is the perfect book for anyone who wants to start collecting art. Tips are given on how to proceed in the purchase of works of art, but also on how fairs and auctions work. There are two positive aspects of this book: the first is to take into consideration the development of the internet and to tell about tools such as online catalogs or web auctions. The second is to give tips for setting up your own collection even starting from a few thousand euros, without necessarily having to be a billionaire. There are suggestions on where to buy and how to set up your collection. it is a book that I recommend not only to collectors but also to artists and art enthusiasts to find out how to navigate the market and how to relate when you want to make a purchase. In fact, you can choose whether to go to the gallery, buy at an online auction or in person, or visit the artist’s studio. For each type you will find some tips. 

6 Best Books to Read on the Art Market | Seven Days in the Art World

The fifth book is again English and is Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton. The author is famous in the art world for having addressed issues such as that of the figure of the artist or the role of contemporary art. In particular in another book translated into Italian 33 performers in 3 acts. In this one I’m telling you about today, however, each chapter is dedicated to a different actor in the art system, a bit like in Poli’s book. A chapter is on auctions, another on fairs, then magazines, the Biennale and the artist’s studio. The real difference with Poli’s book is the setting of the story. In fact, the pages of this book flow as if it were a novel and not an essay. I recommend it if you want to read it in English or alternatively 33 artists in 3 acts in Italian again by Thornton. Even if these are stories of conversations or episodes in the company of contemporary artists such as Ai WeiWei or Cattelan. 

6 Best Books to Read on the Art Market | Bubbles, Chaos and Greed

I want to close this video on my art market book recommendations with another book by Don Thompson Bubbles, mayhem and greed. I consider it an update de The $12 Million Shark. Again the concepts of marketing and sale of works of art in the contemporary art system of large numbers and off-market sales are dealt with. The sales promotion actions by Christie’s and Sotheby’s are described in detail, as well as the ever-increasing rapprochement of Asian collectors and finance with the contemporary market. Whether or not you are in favor of these market laws, I recommend the book for two reasons. First of all, through an engaging and captivating story, it is possible to frame a world that we only read about in the newspapers. And secondly, because if you want to know the market even if you are not all Chinese collectors of billion-dollar works, it is right to find out about what is happening around us and be aware of it. 

6 Best Books to Read on the Art Market | Conclusion

I hope that my list of the 6 Best Books to Read on the Art Market will be useful for you. Leave a comment if you have read any of these books or if you have any other suggestions. Thanks for the company and see you soon! 

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