The meteoric rise of the largest unregulated financial market in the world-for contemporary art-is driven by a few passionate, guileful, and very hard-nosed dealers. They can make and break careers and fortunes.
The contemporary art market is an international juggernaut, throwing off multimillion-dollar deals as wealthy buyers move from fair to fair, auction to auction, party to glittering party. But none of it would happen without the dealers-the tastemakers who back emerging artists and steer them to success, often to see them picked off by a rival.
Dealers operate within a private world of handshake agreements, negotiating for the highest commissions. Michael Shnayerson, a longtime contributing editor to Vanity Fair, writes the first ever definitive history of their activities. He has spoken to all of today's so-called mega dealers-Larry Gagosian, David Zwirner, Arne and Marc Glimcher, and Iwan Wirth-along with dozens of other dealers-from Irving Blum to Gavin Brown-who worked with the greatest artists of their times: Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, and more.
This kaleidoscopic history begins in the mid-1940s in genteel poverty with a scattering of galleries in midtown Manhattan, takes us through the ramshackle 1950s studios of Coenties Slip, the hipster locations in SoHo and Chelsea, London's Bond Street, and across the terraces of Art Basel until today. Now, dealers and auctioneers are seeking the first billion-dollar painting. It hasn't happened yet, but they are confident they can push the price there soon.
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About the Author
Michael Shnayerson is a long-time contributing editor to Vanity Fair and the author of eight books on a range of non-fiction subjects, from biographies of entertainer Harry Belafonte (My Song) and New York governor Andrew Cuomo (The Contender) to narrative-driven accounts of drug-resistant bacteria (The Killer Within) and mountaintop coal removal (Coal River). Shnayerson is married to Gayfryd Steinberg, and lives in Sag Harbor and Manhattan.
Table of Contents
Author's Note ix
Prologue The Kings and Their Court 1
Part I Miracle On 57th Street 1947-1979
Chapter 1 Before Downtown 15
Chapter 2 The Elegant Mr. Castelli 35
Chapter 3 Pop, Minimalism, and the Move to SoHo 61
Part II The Eighties Explode 1979-1990
Chapter 4 Young Man in a Hurry 81
Chapter 5 The Start of a Dissolute Decade 99
Chapter 6 SoHo and Beyond 118
Chapter 7 Boom, Then Gloom 136
Part III Reinventing The Contemporary 1990-2008
Chapter 8 Up from the Ashes 151
Chapter 9 The Europeans Swoop In 168
Chapter 10 The Curious Charm of Chelsea 186
Chapter 11 The Mega Dealers 200
Chapter 12 LA Rising 224
Part IV Apocalypse Not 2009-2014
Chapter 13 A Most Astonishing Revival 247
Chapter 14 Lawsuits and London 262
Chapter 15 Larry's Annus Horribilis 275
Chapter 16 A Market for Black Artists at Last 289
Chapter 17 A Colombian Fairy Tale 304
Chapter 18 The Art Farmers 315
Part V Vying For Supremacy 2015-2019
Chapter 19 A Question of Succession 327
Chapter 20 Turbulence at Two Citadels of Art 339
Chapter 21 Art Fairs Forever 356
Chapter 22 Dirty Laundry 366
Chapter 23 The Dealer Is Present 372
Chapter 24 Of Sharks and Suckerfish 382
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Boom offers a great history and investigation into the contemporary art market. Focused specifically on the history of galleries in NY - the book presents a 'who's who' of major art dealers from 1940s to present day. Really well written and very fun to read! Perfect for art lovers!