Intermittently fascinating but best left to the 1 percent.

THE SUPERMODEL AND THE BRILLO BOX

BACK STORIES AND PECULIAR ECONOMICS FROM THE WORLD OF CONTEMPORARY ART

An information-loaded, economic look at contemporary art.

Not many of us need the information economist Thompson (Emeritus, Marketing and Strategy/York Univ.; The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art, 2008, etc.) carefully provides here. Those who are willing to pay millions of dollars for a piece of art likely know most of it anyway. Still, the author provides an intriguing look into the operation of the basically unregulated market for contemporary art. So what makes one artist more popular than another? Is it branding, back story, or celebrity, or is it event-driven? Many now see art as an asset class, and other collectors buy art to show off, to become market makers, and some are just following the (very wealthy) crowd. It is evident that the author has encyclopedic knowledge of the artists, dealers, private collectors and investors in the contemporary art scene. He explains how art is sold—through dealers, art fairs or the large auction houses of Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Tracking the market is difficult, specifically due to the opacity of private dealer sales. Often, both buyer and seller wish to maintain anonymity for reasons of their own. If auction houses decide to guarantee a price for a work or barter seller or buyer premiums, no one complains—that’s simply the way the game is played. The author makes it abundantly clear that the market is high-risk, illiquid, high-cost and unable to be hedged. “As an economist and contemporary art enthusiast,” writes Thompson, “I have long been puzzled by the alchemy that causes a Warhol to be valued at $63 million rather than $5 million or even $100,000….In thinking about prices, remember that the operative part of the word contemporary is ‘temporary.’ ”

Intermittently fascinating but best left to the 1 percent.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-137-27908-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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A wondrous mix of races, ages, genders, and social classes, and on virtually every page is a surprise.

HUMANS OF NEW YORK

STORIES

Photographer and author Stanton returns with a companion volume to Humans of New York (2013), this one with similarly affecting photographs of New Yorkers but also with some tales from his subjects’ mouths.

Readers of the first volume—and followers of the related site on Facebook and elsewhere—will feel immediately at home. The author has continued to photograph the human zoo: folks out in the streets and in the parks, in moods ranging from parade-happy to deep despair. He includes one running feature—“Today in Microfashion,” which shows images of little children dressed up in various arresting ways. He also provides some juxtapositions, images and/or stories that are related somehow. These range from surprising to forced to barely tolerable. One shows a man with a cat on his head and a woman with a large flowered headpiece, another a construction worker proud of his body and, on the facing page, a man in a wheelchair. The emotions course along the entire continuum of human passion: love, broken love, elation, depression, playfulness, argumentativeness, madness, arrogance, humility, pride, frustration, and confusion. We see varieties of the human costume, as well, from formalwear to homeless-wear. A few celebrities appear, President Barack Obama among them. The “stories” range from single-sentence comments and quips and complaints to more lengthy tales (none longer than a couple of pages). People talk about abusive parents, exes, struggles to succeed, addiction and recovery, dramatic failures, and lifelong happiness. Some deliver minirants (a neuroscientist is especially curmudgeonly), and the children often provide the most (often unintended) humor. One little boy with a fishing pole talks about a monster fish. Toward the end, the images seem to lead us toward hope. But then…a final photograph turns the light out once again.

A wondrous mix of races, ages, genders, and social classes, and on virtually every page is a surprise.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05890-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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