Book review: The Shift: Art and the Rise of Power of Contemporary Collectors by Marta Gnyp, Art and Theory Publishing, Stockholm. 2018.

art for people.pngThis discussion of the art market and the role of the collector today provides an excellent overview of the different aspects of the contemporary art market. Based on Gnyp’s PhD thesis and combined with her professional experience as a consultant in Berlin, this book  connects the collector with his world: the art fairs, auctions, art advisors and dealers. It also considers the sometimes vexed and hotly debated topic of the growing importance of financial investment in the art market. In this as in other areas, although information is taken directly from the players, through interviews and case studies, it is difficult to go below the surface. It is difficult to break certain myths, for example that the collector buys for love and with his/her heart, that he/she doesn’t sell except for very good reasons. Gnyp tries and some of her interviews honestly assess the market- one collector describes the art fair as not selling art but selling a commodity or an artist describes the dilemma when his collectors sell his works, in spite of promises to keep them forever, because they have become too valuable. The study of the Columbian artist, Oscar Murillo and his rapid rise to international stardom is interesting, particularly when Gnyp  discusses the comments by collectors on his work.  The book is an excellent coverage of the main aspects of the contemporary art market; the introduction is a model summary of what someone entering the study of the art market should consider. As the book proceeds, it gives a detached  and measured account of the art market today and the increasingly important role the collector is playing in determining the success of an artist.

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