I come to this as a displacement activity while I reflect on the peer review of my research question last night. How can it be so elusive?
Having enjoyed 7 Days in the Art World, I had a reasonable expectation for this 400 page insight into the workings and minds of some of our most revered artists (if Biennials can be considered a measure), but I was disappointed. Her engaging style and unprecedented access suggest more than is delivered. The emphasis by an English writer on American artists, and four members of the same family, repeatedly, diminished its relevance for me.
Whether by intention or because it is true, the artists Thornton interviews reveal the art world as a class system, with Biennials appearing to be like a Queen Charlotte’s Ball, with the participants as the socialites.
However I do have to admire Thornton for firstly extracting such honesty from a number of interviewees, and secondly for repeating what appear to be admissions that at this level there is a lot of ‘bullshit’, with artists getting away with what they can. ‘Crime is incredibly creative. There’s the bank. If I buy that shed next to the bank, I can dig a tunnel, go underneath…take the money…and no-one would know I was there. That is exactly what art is like!’ There speaks, Damien Hirst, a master of deception.
The Curator, Francesco Bonami talks about his book, He Thinks He’s Picasso, (Translated from Italian), where he places artists in four categories according to whether they are real or fake, good or bad. He considers Jasper Johns real but bad, and Ai Weiwei fake and bad, and Maurizio Cattelan is a good fake.
If this is the summit of the industry, why would any artist aspire to it?