I recently finished reading a book by Sarah Thornton entitled, Seven Days in the Art World. It was an insightful read breaking down the mysteries of the art world. Thornton writes her book from the perspective of a sociologist, which offers a unique perspective from the more common narrative of an art historian or theorist. This book brings to light key players in the art community while investigating seven different events that occur in the art world, including Christie's Auction House, a critique at the California Institute of the Arts, the Basel Art Fair, the competition behind the Turner Prize, the studio of Takashi Murakami, the creative process at Artforum magazine and the Venice Biennale. While exploring and introducing the reader to these events, the author highlights the vast differences and separation of various cultures within the art community. The following quote describes this nicely: "... I don't see the art world as a system or smooth-functioning machine but as a bunch of squabbling subcultures, which embrace very different definitions of art and often feel a measure of hostility toward each other. Many of the chapters are not only a day in the life of a different institution but a day spent with a different social group or subculture." p.258
I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the backdrop of the art world and how defined or undefined it is.
Thornton, Sarah (2009).Seven Days in the Art World. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. New York, NY