33 Artists in 3 Acts

by: Sarah Thornton (0)

This compelling narrative goes behind the scenes with the world’s most important living artists to humanize and demystify contemporary art.

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.

44 illustrations, 3 maps

The Reviews

Without being didactic, Thornton offers a chance for artists to speak for themselves in an honest, straightforward fashion. Her own Gonzo-light style of interjecting herself into the narrative adds fun and flavor without being overly intrusive re: tailoring the artists’ musings to fit a narrative.Also - no spoilers - she gets drunk dialed by Damien Hirst and who doesn’t want to hear stories about that!A good perspective on the modern art world and a fast and fun read.

Boring. Sorry but true.

Although I liked Sarah Thornton's first book, Seven Days in the World better, this was still a very interesting read. The book is ultimately Sarah's opinions on the intentions and motives of various famous contemporary artists. A bit gossipy, a bit insiders scoop, it ultimately does a good job of showing a range of personalities who make up the varied, complicated and fraught stables of art world stars. And it's pretty clear she doesn't think much of Jeff Koons!

As an artist some of the author's explanations/clarifications were unnecessary for me. But if you don't know that much about the art world it's a great read. It was especially nice to read about the wildly different studio practices of various artists, from the factories of Koons and Wei, to the much smaller studios of Cindy Sherman and Gabriel Orozco.

Interesting book on interviewing contemporary artistd.

The paper version of this book may be interesting but the DIGITAL version of this book on the Kindle App version for tablets is extremely frustrating to read, and I am returning it. I cannot find a way to navigate around, no way to see which artists are being discussed on which pages, and Ms Thornton mixes it up - writes a section with one artist, writes a section another artist, then with the third section returns to the first artist, etc. There is no table of contents with artists' names (only 3 generic categories into which she has arranged them) and If you want to return to a previous reference it's very hard,if not impossible, to locate that reference and even harder to find you current place again, particularly if you were trying to find something via the index in the back, because then "Return to last page read" sends you back to the index instead of your reading point. It's especially confusing if the book has been synced to both your iPad and your phone. The index lists page number according to the paper version I give up. I'm sorry. Better luck to others.

Couldn't put it down. As someone who enjoys but doesn't hold much contemporary art up to the importance or value as classical/ traditional art, I found myself loving the perspective as well as the insights and candid interviews. It was easy to read through, and provided a beautiful and sometimes harsh view of aspects of the contemporary art scene. Great read, which I'll be returning to again and again.

I had the misfortune of being assigned this book for an art appreciation class in college and I am shocked at the unashamed pretentiousness the interviewees in this book show. It is literally painful for me to slog through the author's terrible writing and the artist's self important dialogue. They seem to think they are saving the world with their art and love to bash "capitalism" and "consumerism" while simultaneously accepting millions of dollars for their nonsensical art pieces. Any criticism from the general public about their work is met by dismissing them as "art-world outsiders", a term the author seems very proud of given how much she uses it throughout the book. Do yourself a favor and stay away from this if at all possible!

33 Artists in 3 Acts
⭐ 4.2 💛 110
kindle: $11.99
paperback: $3.85
hardcover: $10.18
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