Noah Horowitz


On his book Art of the Deal: Contemporary Art in a Global Financial Market

Cover Interview of October 02, 2011

In a nutshell

The business of contemporary art has changed immeasurably over the last half century.  What was essentially a small, insider trade clustered in a few key avant-garde capitals has expanded into a professionalized multinational, multi-billion dollar industry.

American collectors fly to Beijing to source canvases from the latest up-and-coming Chinese painters; Korean curators commission work for upcoming exhibitions from artists in Sydney and Sao Paulo; auction houses open regional offices to service a newly wealthy global elite at a rate surpassed only by the raw number of galleries, biennials, fairs and publications that now clutter the landscape.

Art has gone global and the imprint of big business is felt throughout.

Other creative industries, of course, have followed a similar path—but perhaps none as spectacularly or perplexingly as the world of high art.  The shock value of a $10 million price tag for a work straight from an artist’s studio has few equals.

In Art of the Deal I cut below the surface of these shifting tides.  I look at how these changes have come about, why and where business is heading.

Unlike other accounts of the trade that focus ad nauseum on the successes of a few acclaimed household names—Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, most commonly—this book offers an account of some of the subtler but all the more profound recent developments.

I consider in depth the rise of art investing and the commercial forces of a wide range of artistic practices such as video, performance, installation and experiential art, long thought to exist outside of the market but now central to its operation.

In the end, the book provides a critical lens into the art world’s fascinating but opaque processes that I hope will stir the minds of scholars, professionals and a curious public.

The book will have achieved its goal if your next encounter with art—whether in a museum, gallery, studio, library, online, wherever—gives you just a little more pause about the uses and values of these objects.