Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Inside tales of the art world

Here is a real-life account that probes a fickle and fast-paced art market where connections, galleries, critics and trends make or break reputations in no time. Taking off from the late 1960s, as performance artists, surrealists and conceptualists rebel against minimalism; ‘True Colors’ by Anthony Haden-Guest moves through a flurry of art movements to earthworks and graffiti art from neo-expressionism; and then ends with a report on the 1993 Venice Biennale and a skeptical look at developments in 1990s, such as confessional and victim art, technological and ecological art.

Through a series of conversations, interviews, capsule bios and critical views, Haden-Guest profiles dozens of well-known artists. An introductory note to the book elaborates, “Haden-Guest gives vivid portraits of the art world’s key players and dramatizes the pivotal moments in the always evolving scene. Skillfully conveying a sense of the intricate geography of the art world, he tells of its clashes of ambition, its intrigues, and its power plays. This is how artists survive, or don’t survive. ‘True Colors’ is filled with telling anecdotes and expertly told stories that cohere to give a sense of how the art world works, its current state, and where it may be going. The author draws on his reporting and observation skills to deliver a powerful inside account of the contemporary art world.”

In nine chapters, ‘True Colors’ keeps a reader engaged and engrossed thanks to the writer’s telegraphic style and pointed observations. For example, he mentions: “Artist, like everybody else, are subject to political and economic forces. They tend to be at least as ambitious as politicians. They endure rejection and failure. They survive success. The final product is the art that ends up in the gallery, a museum, a public space, in the hands of a private owner, or only as a documented memory.” 

Focusing on the personalities and lives of the art world's important players, and with an unmistakable critical component, he portrays their journey, as they strive to fulfill their creative ambitions. He takes a non-judgmental look at the machinations of those in control of the larger drama - the art dealers, collectors, gallerists and curators, to present an authoritative observation and analysis.

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