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33 Artists in 3 Acts
by Sarah Thornton


Overview -

The best-selling author of Seven Days in the Art World now tells the story of the artists themselves--how they move through the world, command credibility, and create iconic works.

33 Artists in 3 Acts offers unprecedented access to a dazzling range of artists, from international superstars to unheralded art teachers.  Read more...


 
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More About 33 Artists in 3 Acts by Sarah Thornton
 
 
 
Overview

The best-selling author of Seven Days in the Art World now tells the story of the artists themselves--how they move through the world, command credibility, and create iconic works.

33 Artists in 3 Acts offers unprecedented access to a dazzling range of artists, from international superstars to unheralded art teachers. Sarah Thornton's beautifully paced, fly-on-the-wall narratives include visits with Ai Weiwei before and after his imprisonment and Jeff Koons as he woos new customers in London, Frankfurt, and Abu Dhabi. Thornton meets Yayoi Kusama in her studio around the corner from the Tokyo asylum that she calls home. She snoops in Cindy Sherman's closet, hears about Andrea Fraser's psychotherapist, and spends quality time with Laurie Simmons, Carroll Dunham, and their daughters Lena and Grace.

Through these intimate scenes, 33 Artists in 3 Acts explores what it means to be a real artist in the real world. Divided into three cinematic "acts"--politics, kinship, and craft--it investigates artists' psyches, personas, politics, and social networks. Witnessing their crises and triumphs, Thornton turns a wry, analytical eye on their different answers to the question "What is an artist?"

33 Artists in 3 Acts reveals the habits and attributes of successful artists, offering insight into the way these driven and inventive people play their game. In a time when more and more artists oversee the production of their work, rather than make it themselves, Thornton shows how an artist's radical vision and personal confidence can create audiences for their work, and examines the elevated role that artists occupy as essential figures in our culture.


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780393240979
  • ISBN-10: 0393240975
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • Publish Date: November 2014
  • Page Count: 430
  • Dimensions: 9.77 x 6.27 x 1.37 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.74 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Art > History - Contemporary (1945- )
Books > Art > Art & Politics
Books > Art > Business Aspects

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-08-04
  • Reviewer: Staff

Thornton (Seven Days in the Art World) paints a masterful picture of 33 artists, keenly bringing details of their lives to the surface with a skilled hand and without overwhelming the reader. The product of four years of work, the book is divided into its eponymous three acts; each chapter, or “scene,” focuses on one artist, with artists sometimes appearing in multiple “scenes.” The activist Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei, receives much favorable attention; one notable chapter takes place in the wake of his arrest at the hands of Chinese government authorities. Married American artists Caroll Dunham and Laurie Simmons are surveyed together, then separately, in multiple chapters, with Thornton exploring their artistic relationships and the gender dynamics therein. Thornton builds on such analyses to offer astute, accessible commentary on the gendered dimensions of modern art. With effortless sophistication, Thornton takes readers on a journey across the globe and into the homes and minds of contemporary artists. In the process, she banishes cynicism about modern art, revealing it to be a volatile, healthy enterprise still deeply engaged with the world. 44 illus. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, the Wylie Agency. (Nov.)

 
BookPage Reviews

Modern artists

One of the first artists featured in Sarah Thornton’s fascinating 33 Artists in 3 Acts is American Jeff Koons, who tells her that he never wants people to feel small when they view his art. Clearly Thornton ascribes to a similar principle. In this witty, smart follow-up to her 2008 bestseller, Seven Days in the Art World, Thornton generously cracks the sometimes perplexing code of modern art.

She cleverly divides her artist profiles into three sections. First, Thornton explores artists’ attitudes toward politics and power in their work. She then probes the network of relationships an artist needs to succeed, before finally looking at the artistry itself.

Let’s face it: Artists are, by and large, a weird bunch. (Laurie Simmons, the mother of “Girls” creator Lena Dunham, spends part of the book toting a silicone Japanese sex doll between her Tribeca loft and her home in Connecticut as she “gets to know” her before creating a series of photographs.) While the strangeness of artists is entertaining, Thornton goes beyond the quirks by asking each to articulate their own definition of an artist.

For the most part, she presents their answers without judgment. But Thornton is no pushover. When she sits down with Koons—who is a millionaire many times over for his art—she gently reminds him that she is “familiar with his famous adages and anecdotes so it would be great if he could resist his penchant for reiterating them and answer my questions as directly as possible.” She gets points for trying to draw more than pat answers from a man who, by virtue of his wild success, no longer needs to answer for anything.

 

This article was originally published in the November 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews