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Sarah Thornton, photo by Mark James

Sarah Thornton


NYS Writers Institute, November 5, 2009
7:00 p.m. Discussion | University Art Museum, Fine Arts Building, Uptown Campus

Sarah Thornton, author of “Seven Days in the Art World” (2008), a journey into the peculiar culture of contemporary art, will speak on Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. [NOTE EARLY START TIME] in the Art Museum, Fine Arts Building, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. The event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the University at Albany’s Art Museum as part of its Art & Culture Talks series, the New York State Writers Institute, and the Women’s Press Club of New York.


Sarah Thornton,
British-Canadian journalist, has achieved international acclaim for her nonfiction work, “Seven Days in the Art World” (2008), a fly-on-the-wall account of life among the makers, buyers, curators and marketers of contemporary High Art. With an educational background in sociology as well as art history, Thornton uses her knowledge of complex group dynamics to elucidate the power structures, rituals and value systems that characterize a mysterious and secretive subculture.

The book is divided into seven chapters. Each focuses on a different aspect of the art world: an auction at the Christie’s salesroom in New York; a self-critique session at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California; the Art Basel international art exhibition in Switzerland; the studio of contemporary superstar artist Takashi Murakami in Japan; the behind-the-scenes maneuvering connected with the Tate Gallery’s Turner Prize in London; the offices of the influential monthly magazine “ArtForum”; and Italy’s prestigious festival of the arts, the Venice Biennale.

The “Time” magazine reviewer said, “Thornton gives us a one-stop tutorial on an often insular subculture… ‘Seven Days’ is light-hearted but sociologically acute, allowing us to both laugh at and empathize with those for whom ‘contemporary art has become a kind of alternative religion.’” The “Vogue” reviewer said, “‘Seven Days in the Art World’… seems destined to outlive its moment… Thornton offers an indelible portrait of a peculiar society, simultaneously cutthroat and curious… glamorous yet filled with people who would have been unpopular in high school.” The London “Sunday Times” called it, “The best book yet written about the modern-art boom… excellent, vivid, wittily written… a Robert Altmanesque panorama of the most important cultural phenomenon of the last ten years.”

An international bestseller, the book has been translated into German, French, Dutch, Japanese, Italian and Spanish, and is forthcoming in Portuguese and Chinese.

As a journalist in the field of art and culture, Thornton has contributed to the “New Yorker,” “Art Forum,” and BBC Television. Her previous book is “Club Cultures: Music, Media and Cultural Capital” (1995), a study of youth cultures centered on dance clubs, raves and other musical events in the United Kingdom. “Spin” magazine called it, “One of the smartest and most audacious pieces of musical sociology in years,” and the “American Journal of Sociology” called it, “an excellent case study that introduces a way of analyzing subcultures on their own terms.”

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.