Top 5 Reads to get into the art industries' head

By Jena Connolly | 04 December, 2015

The Art World is a mysterious mistress with a dozen different faces, distant relations, and limbs. As an emerging artist or blossoming creative industries jobseeker, it can seem impossible simply attempting to catch her eye, let alone understand her. To this end, speaking with her scorned lovers, those taken under her wing,  and her long-term stalkers, can be inspirational and eye-opening.Feel like you’re currently looking through foggy glass onto a confused Art World? Why not pick up one of the following to try and get inside the industries’ head?


1. Playing to the Gallery: Helping contemporary art in its struggle to be understood. Author: Grayson Perry (2014)

Celebrated British artist, and 2003 Turner Prize Winner, Grayson Perry explores the nuances of the Contemporary Art Industry and its systems of artistic valuation, validation, and appreciation. Based on his Reith lectures of 2013, Perry argues for greater inclusivity, accessibility and transparency whilst he humorously examines the current systems at odds with this in the Art World. The whole book appears to probe the underlying issues behind that first question posed to him after his Turner success; “ Are you a loveable character, or a serious artist?”


2. Seven Days in the Art World. Author: Sarah Thornton (2008)

Academic Sarah Thornton investigates the culture and ethnology behind different limbs of the Art World by examining a day in seven different areas of art production or consumption; an Auction, Biennale, Fair, Studio, Arts Magazine Office, Seminar, and an Awards Ceremony. Thornton examines the systems with which we make, market, sell, buy, and appreciate art from within. Highly acclaimed since its release in 2008 Thornton has followed it up with ‘33 Artists in 3 Acts’ (2014).


3. The New Economy of Art. Edited by Gilane Tawadros & Russell Martin for DACS and Artquest. (2014)

Co-produced by DACS, non for profit artist rights management group, and Art Quest, provider of practical advice and support for practitioners in the Creative Sector, this collection of writings tackles the current policies, economic structures, and business models  prevalent in the contemporary visual arts industry. Not light but definitely worth a serious read for the reports and data you need to structure an educated entry into the contemporary industry.


4. Lives of the Artist, Lives of the Architect. Author: Hans Ulrich Obrist (2015)

World-renowned Swiss Curator and Contemporary Art Critic, Hans Ulrich Obrist has interviewed artists throughout his adult life. This recent compilation of his interviews is released under a title evoking the work of Renaissance writer, oft-heralded  as the father of Art History, Giorgio Vasari and his pivotal ‘Lives of the Artists’. Featuring artists such as Gerhard Richter and Louise Bourgeois, this text is an insightful window into the practices, hurdles, and revelations of professional artists.


5. An Object of Beauty. Author: Steve Martin (2010)

Steve Martin’s fictional narrative focuses on Lacey Yeager, an ambitious young woman, and her experiences ascending the New York City Art Market ladder. Yeager’s career mirrors the peaks and troughs of the millennial Art World as Martin uses her story to wittily comment on issues of taste and wealth distribution in the arts. 



Pick up one of the above reads and get a better grip on the inner workings, issues, and perspectives within the Art World. At Art Retail Network we are devoted to improving engagement and accessibility for artists and audiences entering the art industry.


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