october 24, 2012
canadian name-brand art reporter, sarah thornton, has pulled a greg smith, today, penning a screed for tar magazine entitled "top 10 reasons not to write about the art market." in it, the "seven days in the art world" author concludes that the subject is too corrupt to report on and therefore she will shift away from this kind of journalism. among her complaints: art market coverage gives "too much exposure to artists who attain high prices," and "the most interesting stories are libelous." also — and this is our favorite — "the pay is appalling," she writes.
thornton’s most recent reporting for canadian publishers includes her award-nominated column for canadian art’sonline edition, in which she addresses key questions in art, including the role of the artist. canadian art editor richard rhodes tells artinfo canada “sarah writes about the role of artists for canadian art. she's busy working on a book on that subject,” he notes. “we expect to see more from her.”
thornton writes about contemporary art and its market for the economist, and occasionally for other publications such as artforum, theguardian, and sueddeutsche zeitung. she contributes to broadcasts by bbc tv and radio,zdf television, and npr radio.
among her list of reasons for terminating her relationship to art market reporting -- such as the “painful” repetitiveness of writing about it, and its implication that money is "the only important thing" about art -- thornton cites the unnatural prevalence of “white american men” in the spectrum of subjects. she adds, “you appear to endorse works you dislike and artists that you consider historically irrelevant because the day’s financial news dictates the shape of your narrative.”
while thornton is quick to assure us that she has “no problem with rich people,” mentioning her best friends’ “high net worth,” she complains that “the biggest spenders in the art market are people who have made their money in non-democracies with horrendous human rights records. their expertise in rising to the top of a corrupt system gives punch to the term ‘filthy lucre’.”
a canadian who went to britain on a commonwealth scholarship, thornton’s phd was published by polity press as “club cultures: music, media and subcultural capital."
since 2002, thornton has been investigating the social, cultural, and economic dynamics of contemporary art. her popular insider account, "seven days in the art world," is based on ethnographic research into the bastions of the field: an auction, an art school, an art fair, an art prize, an art magazine, an artist's studio, and an art biennale.
modern painters's columnist, matthew collings, reviewed thornton's tell-all book for the guardian, in 2008, observing a telling moment, in relation to this latest news. "when [artforum editor] tony korner tells thornton the last thing artforum would ever do is follow the market, [...] he believes what he says. but you'd expect thornton to tell us where logic falls down in this account. she doesn't do it because she's in the business of taking art world people very, very seriously."
thornton has taken korner's admission all the way to the bank (or away from it, in this case), by removing her serious investigations into the market-driven art world from the coffers completely. we'll wait and see how successful she can be at her querying the art world away from its main stage.
via: blouin art info