Archive for category Subject: Curating

A Year In The Art World || Matthew Israel

An account of what goes on inside the world of art business is always going to be interesting, but the question is: for who? Is it those insiders themselves, who will probably enjoy critiquing someone else’s view? Or maybe they’ll value an insight into what everyone else involved does, assuming they don’t know that already. How about the investor? They, especially if they’re just getting a toehold, would certainly benefit from a who-does-what guide, particularly if it also covers who’s-most-likely-to-rip-me-off. Artists themselves might like that, too. But the general reader, that wider public outside the specialist market? Nope, unless it’s written like a thriller, which this isn’t.

So, this is something very niche and we can at least be grateful that the author has taken the trouble to address his specialised audience directly, rather than trying (probably in vain) to widen the appeal. I’m a bit concerned by the strapline under Matthew Israel’s name on the cover, though: “curator, artist and art historian”. If his is an authoritative view, wouldn’t the people the book is aimed at know him? Maybe I’m being cynical, but to me it doesn’t inspire confidence in his insider knowledge. The potted biography on the back flap gives him quite a pedigree, albeit most rather vague and some a bit peripheral.

I know that art is a business and that, once you get beyond artists’ private and small galleries and when the sums of money become eye-watering, a lot of very serious people have to be involved, but these are waters that attract sharks and are very much unsafe for the uninitiated swimmer.

So, to rein in my cynicism, let’s sum this up as thorough, generally well-researched and pitched really rather well between readability and superficiality. If you want a primer in the business of art, it’s a worthwhile starting point. Watch the beach safety flags, though.

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The Curator’s Handbook || Adrian George

This is one of those useful guides to good practice in those fields that are becoming increasingly professionalised. There was a time (and it may have been a very long time ago) when setting up an exhibition meant little more than hiring a space and renting some display panels. The term “curator” was applied more to museums than exhibitions.

Nowadays, there are all kinds of regulations, Health and Safety and insurance to consider, as well as responsibilities to exhibit owners and to visitors, who will expect more than an amateurish experience.

Adrian George is well-qualified to be your guide, having completed the RA’s prestigious Curating MA and worked at the New Museum in New York, Tates Modern and Liverpool and being currently employed as Deputy Director of the UK Government Art Collection.

This is a thorough and authoritative guide that will fulfil the needs of even the most demanding reader.

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