Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Life in the fast lane

When they work, I really like books about jobs and what it is like to experience thsm. As someone who has worked almost entirely in offices, I don't have a good sense of what a day is like for a fire fighter or a park ranger. Two books that managed to explain a job while also telling good stories are the Last Season, a book about backwoods rangers, and Book, a collection of essays about life in the book trade.

Just as entertaining and informative is Richard Polsky's I Sold Andy Warhol (Too Soon). Polsky is an art dealer who writes about the big business that contemporary art has become. The principal change was the switch from dealers selling most of the art to the auction houses creating market frenzy.

Polsky moved from representing artists to brokering deals between sellers and the auction houses. Over the years he watches as the prices move from the tens of thousands to the tens of millions. While the increase means the commission on one deal can be quite significant, it also means that he is now priced out of the market. He began his career in part to spend time with and too own art. Now owning the ones he loves is just about impossible.

In addition to his art work, Polsky is a journalist, which shows in the quality of his writing. It is breezy, funny and on target. He maintains a good natured air throughout even when he is getting squeezed out of substantial amounts of money. This one will be of particular interest to anyone interested in the business of art.

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