Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton - review by William Cash

William Cash

An Overheated Balloon

Seven Days in the Art World


Granta Books 304pp £15.99

By the second page of this 'cat-on-the-prowl' look at the global playground of the contemporary art world, Sarah Thornton is name-dropping Tom Wolfe. She states that the travelling circus of collectors, dealers, artists, curators, critics, publicists and journalists – along with the flying hordes of canapé- and champagne-hunting hangers-on who have helped turn the international art scene into a hip new party circuit – are all part of what Wolfe would call a 'statusphere'. But Seven Days in the Art World is way off being another The Painted Word. This is partly because whilst Wolfe merrily skewered the cosy world of avant-garde contemporary art in the Seventies, sticking his sharp quill into the reputations of artists like Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning before ruthlessly savaging the 'Cultureburg' art policing methods of the most prominent American critics, Thornton's book is less confrontational. It's more of an open love letter to the gatekeepers of the New Art Establishment.

Still, it's a fascinating read. Thornton is certainly good at getting some – and I stress some – art world doors to open for her. The first chapter, ‘The Auction’, which takes us behind the scenes at a Christie's Contemporary Sale in New York conducted by Christopher Burge, is probably

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