Insightful, exciting art-world memoir.

I SOLD ANDY WARHOL (TOO SOON)

A fun insider’s look at the excesses and intrigue of the contemporary art market.

When artnet contributor Polsky (I Bought Andy Warhol, 2004, etc.) sold his beloved Warhol, a green Fright Wig, at auction in 2005, he thought he pegged the market at its peak—the painting sold for seven times what he’d paid for it in 1987. Little did he know that in the next three years, the art world would see a shake-up like never before, culminating in Rothkos, Picassos and Warhols selling for unprecedented sums as high as $80 million. Suddenly, the long-established relationship between dealers and collectors was turned on its head as the auction took center stage, in some cases allowing artists to bypass dealers and galleries completely, setting the scene for wealthy media moguls and businessmen to invest in art the way they invest in the stock market. The author, who has 30 years of private-dealer experience, found himself not only without his treasured painting but also struggling to keep up with the new demands of the market. “The sobering message,” he writes, “was the emergence of the auction houses as the new alchemists, converting oil and canvas into gold.” With refreshing frankness, Polsky delves into that chaotic time, detailing the careful combination of smarts and schmooze—and the occasional artificially enhanced auction result—necessary to stay in the game. His knowledge of the market makes his narrative as informative as it is engaging, and his enthusiasm for revealing behind-the-scenes tales brings the eclectic cast of the art world to vivid life. One telling anecdote describes his efforts to find a Fright Wig painting for a client, a task that had increased in difficulty because of Warhol’s steadily escalating value. Polsky ultimately found two, procuring the pair for just under $1.7 million. Weeks later, a single Fright Wig sold at auction for more than $2 million. Though the transaction netted the author a sizable commission, he still mourns the era when art was valuable for its aesthetic value and not simply as a commodity.

Insightful, exciting art-world memoir.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59051-337-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2009

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A zesty, energetic history, not only of a building, but of more than a century of American culture.

INSIDE THE DREAM PALACE

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF NEW YORK'S LEGENDARY CHELSEA HOTEL

A revealing biography of the fabled Manhattan hotel, in which generations of artists and writers found a haven.

Turn-of-the century New York did not lack either hotels or apartment buildings, writes Tippins (February House: The Story of W. H. Auden, Carson McCullers, Jane and Paul Bowles, Benjamin Britten, and Gypsy Rose Lee, Under One Roof In Wartime America, 2005). But the Chelsea Hotel, from its very inception, was different. Architect Philip Hubert intended the elegantly designed Chelsea Association Building to reflect the utopian ideals of Charles Fourier, offering every amenity conducive to cooperative living: public spaces and gardens, a dining room, artists’ studios, and 80 apartments suitable for an economically diverse population of single workers, young couples, small families and wealthy residents who otherwise might choose to live in a private brownstone. Hubert especially wanted to attract creative types and made sure the building’s walls were extra thick so that each apartment was quiet enough for concentration. William Dean Howells, Edgar Lee Masters and artist John Sloan were early residents. Their friends (Mark Twain, for one) greeted one another in eight-foot-wide hallways intended for conversations. In its early years, the Chelsea quickly became legendary. By the 1930s, though, financial straits resulted in a “down-at-heel, bohemian atmosphere.” Later, with hard-drinking residents like Dylan Thomas and Brendan Behan, the ambience could be raucous. Arthur Miller scorned his free-wheeling, drug-taking, boozy neighbors, admitting, though, that the “great advantage” to living there “was that no one gave a damn what anyone else chose to do sexually.” No one passed judgment on creativity, either. But the art was not what made the Chelsea famous; its residents did. Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Robert Mapplethorpe, Phil Ochs and Sid Vicious are only a few of the figures populating this entertaining book.

A zesty, energetic history, not only of a building, but of more than a century of American culture.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-618-72634-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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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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