“This book is the product of obsession, experience and curiosity,” says curator, writer and art historian Matthew Israel in the introduction to A Year in the Art World, a new book promising an “insider’s view” of contemporary art. It chronicles 12 months of goings-on across studios, galleries, fairs and auctions, revealing what these events are and who is really involved. In creating this volume, Israel draws on 20 years spent working in the field. He was Head Curator of Artsy and has worked with leading galleries, including Gagosian.
Contemporary art can often be seen inaccessible and obscure. There are many questions: What is it that people in the art world actually do? What drives interest in working with art? How do artworks acquire value? How has technology transformed today’s art world? And, crucially, what does it all mean? Israel hopes to answer these common problems. “My aim in this book is to go deep inside what’s often regarded as a niche, elitist industry and to present an accessible, engaging and historically informed view of what makes the art world go round – as well as to illustrate what people actually do in this world,” he explains.
A Year in the Art World achieves this through conversations and anecdotes. Readers are invited to join the author on a studio visit with artist Taryn Simon. They are taken on a trip to Art Basel, where Israel is hosting a discussion between “art world heavyweights” Jeff Koons and Hans Ulrich Obrist. Elsewhere, the director of MOCA Los Angeles, Klaus Biesenbach, explains the priorities central to his role in growing the museum. Ralph Rugoff, the Venice Biennale’s 209 artistic director, looks what is required to create such a large-scale, momentous show. Readers are introduced to curators, critics, gallerists and institutions across the globe – from Los Angeles and New York to Paris and Hong Kong,
It’s worth nothing that this book draws a portrait of the art world pre-COVID. We have not yet seen the full impact of the pandemic. What is clear is that the internet will have a large role to play in the exhibitions and events of tomorrow. In discussing his experience at Artsy, Israel explores the explosion of art online – looking at how it is identified, analysed, presented and sold. By delving into the future of web galleries and immersive VR technology, he highlights the ways art does – and will continue to – connect us.
A Year In The Art World: An Insider’s View by Matthew Israel is published by Thames & Hudson in hardback at £19.95. Find out more here.
Lead image: Photo Thilo Frank/Studio Olafur Eliasson, courtesy ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark. © Olafur Eliasson. Olafur Eliasson, Your rainbow panorama, 2006-2011. ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark, 2011.