The art market is too corrupt to write about, says Sarah Thornton. Thornton (author of “Seven Days in the Art World”) quits art journalism, citing her top 10 reasons not to write about the art market – and there are quite a lot.
“As a sociologist, I’m fascinated by the economic dynamics that swarm around art and artists. However, I’ve decided to shift away from journalism of this kind for a hundred reasons, including the following ten.
1. It gives too much exposure to artists who attain high prices. You end up writing about paintings by white American men more than is warranted. You appear to endorse works you dislike and artists that you consider historically irrelevant because the day’s financial news dictates the shape of your narrative.
3. It never seems to lead to regulation. Even when you eventually gather enough information to expose a vainglorious conman—one who has taken his clients for an unscrupulous ride in full view of 500 well-dressed auction goers—the authorities can’t get their act together to investigate. When a couple of lawyers from the price-fixing team call you in as a witness, they decide that the incident might be a matter for the fraud department. But they are down on the 6th floor or maybe up on the 21st. Anyway, no one follows up. 4. The most interesting stories are libelous.
Fraud and price-fixing aside, everyone involved in the art market knows that tax evasion is a regular occurrence and money laundering is a driving force in certain territories. However, your publication’s lawyers will quite rightly delete any mention of these illegalities. It’s impossible to prove them unless you can wiretap and trace money transfers.”
The whole story is in Tar Magazine and you can download it as a PDF here.
Sarah Thornton at 2011 SCAD deFINE ART
Sarah Thornton reveals the inspiration and creative process that led to her nonfiction book “Seven Days in the Art World.” Interviewer: Josh Lind (B.F.A., film and television, 2005), creative director, SCAD Collaborative Learning Center
You Don’t Need Great Skill to be a Great Artist: The Debate
Four internationally renowned art experts, including Sarah Thornton and Art Review magazine’s most powerful person in the art world in 2009 Hans-Ulrich Obrist, square off on the motion during Intelligence Squared Asia’s debate.