Understanding the Art Market

The international art world is complex and ever-changing. It can be unpredictable, reacting to the people working within it. These include gallerists, auctioneers, collectors, art dealers, art historians, experts, art advisors, brokers and consultants. Viewed from the outside it can seem overwhelming and impenetrable.

Educational programmes at auction houses such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s offer practical skills and insight into the art world, however not everyone has the time and money to invest in this. If you want to learn about art and artists, how to evaluate an artwork and where to look for art investments, there are plenty of alternatives.

Here at ArtMarketGuru we have compiled a list of the best written sources to guide you through the maze. Below are our top recommendations:

 

The Story of Art

by E.H. Gombrich

To understand art history, The Story of Art is essential. First published in 1950 it is widely regarded both as a classic and as one of the most accessible introductions to the visual arts. The best-selling art book of all time, it was originally intended for younger readers. Written in clear and accessible language, and conveying Gombrich’s love of the subject, it is currently in its 16th edition and has been translated into approximately 30 languages.

Recently redesigned, illustrations are now in color, and a new soft cover edition is small enough to slip into a handbag or pocket, to be discreetly consulted. Contemporary artists have been added and the content revised and updated where necessary.

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Art in Theory 1900 – 2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas

by Charles Harrison and Paul J. Wood

Constantly being updated, this popular anthology of 20th century art theoretical texts is an essential scholarly text. Including significant contributions to art theory from the 1990’s and the latest research, this book represents a complete survey of the theories underpinning the development of modern art.

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History of Modern Art

by H.H. Arnason and Elizabeth C. Mansfield

A detailed view of the art and artists of the last 150 years, this book covers trends and influences from the 19th century to the present day in photography, architecture, sculpture and painting. Vital for an understanding of modern art, as well as awareness of globalisation and the influence of modernism on non-Western and developing countries.

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Art Now!

by Uta Grosenick

Visiting the Tate Modern, reading Art Forum, attending the Venice Biennale and perusing the Pompidou are just some of the ways to keep informed but not all. ‘Art Now’ is an invaluable catalogue and overview of the contemporary art scene. Featuring over 100 artists in an alphabetical order together with their biographical information and exhibition history, it also includes images of their best work and a sampled index of present time auction prices.

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Vitamin D: New Perspectives in Drawing

by Emma Dexter

Previously poorly represented at art fairs, exhibitions and the Biennales, drawing is undergoing a resurgence in popularity. Emma Dexter’s introductory text offers a critical account of the recent evolution and role of drawing in the art world. With 500 illustrations, over 100 artists are presented in alphabetical order. Like publisher Phaidon’s best seller Vitamin P, a global survey of painting, this book documents the most recent ideas and trends.

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Seven Days in the Art World

by Sarah Thornton

A sharp and entertaining fly-on-the-wall account of the art world from behind the scenes, showing us how it works, from art school to auction house, and giving us a vivid sense of being there. Set in New York, Basel, London, Venice, Tokyo and Los Angeles and available in 15 translations, the book also seeks to shed light on the deeper workings of the complex subcultures that constitute the present day art world.

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Collecting Contemporary Art

by Adam Lindemann

For an art expert or art fan this book is one of a kind. Containing enough information to understand the present day art market, it covers the basics of buying art at auctions, art fairs and primary and secondary markets. It also gives an overview of the global art scene together with its social circles. Tell-all interviews from the key players in the world’s art market are discussed and the final chapters of the book cover the most significant annual auctions, fairs and exhibitions around the globe.

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The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art

by Don Thompson

Why would an intelligent banker would give away $12 million in exchange for a stuffed carcass of a shark? Or why would Jackson Pollock’s drip painting “No. 5, 1948 “sell for $140 million? This book is both fascinating and entertaining. It takes a ‘Freakonomics’ approach to dissect the economics and psychology of modern-day art world. It helps to uncover why record prices for art were attained by 131 modern day artists in the year 2006 alone, while even better prices were achieved in the year 2007. The book explores the reasons why certain work is considered high value while the other goes unnoticed.

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My Name is Charles Saatchi and I am an Artoholic

by Charles Saatchi

Refreshingly plain-speaking this very short book is informative, entertaining and highly readable. Charles Saatchi is one of the most influential art collectors of our time and founder of the global advertising agency, Saatchi & Saatchi. He reveals his opinions on collecting, artists, dealers, advertising and investing in art with unflinching honesty.

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Way of Seeing

by John Berger

A classic text. One of the most stimulating and the most influential books on art in any language. First published in 1972, it was based on a BBC television series and concentrated on how we look at paintings. The book opened up for general attention areas of cultural study that are now commonplace and taught a new generation of viewers to cut right through the mystification of the professional art critics.

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Dialogues With Marcel Duchamp

by Pierre Cabanne

Duchamp is commonly regarded, along with Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, as one of the three artists who helped to define the 20th century, and was responsible for a radical shift in what art could be. His impact cannot be overestimated. This book is short, revelatory and highly readable.

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The Brutality of Fact: Interviews with Francis Bacon

by David Sylvester

Ever since its first publication, this book – with its subsequent revised and augmented editions – has been considered a classic of its kind. As a discussion of problems of making art today it has been widely influential not only among artists but among writers and musicians. It has also been seen as the most revealing portrait that exists of one of the most singular artistic personalities of our time. In these masterfully and creatively reconstructed interviews, Sylvester has provided unparalleled access to the thought, work, and life of one of the creative geniuses of our century.

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The Auctioneer: Adventures in the Art Trade

by Simon de Pury

Published this year, this is a frank, confessional and entertaining book by the ultimate art player. Former Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, former owner of Sotheby’s rival Phillips de Pury, and currently a London-based dealer and advisor to collectors around the world de Pury has one of the highest profiles of any non-artist in the art world. Known as “The Mick Jagger of Auctions” for his showmanship and exuberance, his whole life in art has been devoted to bringing art to the public and to the juxtaposition of high and low culture.

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Art of the 20th Century

by Ingo F. Walther

An exceptional overview of the painting, sculpture, new media, and photography that defined an indefinable era. From Fauvism to formaldehyde via Minimalism, Conceptualism and Surrealism, this book gives you the theories, players and timelines, and highlights relationships between the movements and the works.

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How to Read Contemporary Art

by Michael Wilson

Thoughtful and accessible this book explores the significance and impact of a broad selection of the most prominent contemporary artists working in Europe, North and Latin America, and Asia. Organized alphabetically by artist, it describes each artist’s use of media and symbolism in reference to their key pieces, and provides useful biographical information. Encompassing work in video, film, photography, installation, sculpture, painting, drawing, digital media and performance, artists covered include Luc Tuymans, Marina Abramović and Francis Alÿs.

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How to Start and Run a Commercial Art Gallery

by Edward Winkleman

This detailed volume covers everything that an upcoming gallery owner might need, including a step by step process on how to plan and start an art gallery. Includes information on how to: promote and grow your new business, attract and retain artists and clients, renovate the space, write a business plan, find start-up capital, manage cash flow, hire and manage staff, represent your artists and find an ideal locale. Includes tips from experienced collectors, a wide section on art fairs, a directory of art dealers associations and sample forms.

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Selling Contemporary Art: How to Navigate the Evolving Market

by Edward Winkleman

A sophisticated examination of today’s contemporary art market from an art dealer’s point of view, this book focuses on recent changes in the quickly evolving market. With an emphasis on how the market responded to the global recession that began in 2008, the book includes a wide range of interviews with international experts including dealers, collectors, art-fair directors, journalists, and online art entrepreneurs.

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How to Sell Your Art Online: Live a Successful Creative Life on Your Own Terms

by Cory Huff

An essential guide for every kind of artist that teaches them how to find their niche, connect directly with collectors and buyers, and sell what they make. Using successful artists’ stories as examples, thoroughly explaining how art is sold today, and providing tips on how to build connections and use social media, Huff illustrates the countless ways to take control over a creative career.

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Korean Eye: Contemporary Korean Art

by Serenella Ciclitira

The most influential and significant work on Korean contemporary art and artists to date. After the success of Korean Eye: the 1st international exhibition of Korean Contemporary art, this book explores 60 of Korea’s most prominent artists. References to galleries, museums, exhibitions, symposia, major art fairs, and background information on Korea’s art scene are also found in the book.

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Contemporary Chinese Art

by Wu Hung

A lavishly illustrated, classic and comprehensive survey of modern Chinese art, one of the most significant and flourishing sectors of the present day art world by a recognized eminence in the field. The author, Wu Hung, gives a focused, accessible, and essential narrative of the evolution of Chinese art throughout all media since the 1970s to the 2000s, a time characterized by revolutionary economic, political and social change in China.

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Art Plural: Voices of Contemporary Art

by Michael Peppiatt and Jane A. Peterson

Art is now a globalized phenomenon, with artists communicating and interacting on an international scale as never before. World-renowned art historian and writer Michael Peppiatt explores what it means to be a contemporary artist in a globalized world and puts the work of 25 top contemporary artists, from East to West into a global context. The artists themselves reflect on their influences, styles, techniques and messages through personal interviews in this lavishly illustrated book.

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