What’s It About? (from the book jacket) In early 2005, Richard Polsky decided to put his much-loved, hard-won Warhol Fright Wig, up for auction at Christie’s. The market for contemporary art was robust and he was hoping to turn a profit. His instinct seemed to be on target: his picture sold for $375,000. But if only Polsky had waited . . . Over the next two years, prices soared to unimaginable heights with multimillion-dollar deals that became the norm and not the exception. Buyers and sellers were baffled, art dealers were bypassed for auction houses, and benchmark prices proved that trees really do grow to the sky. Had the market lost all reason?
In I Sold Andy Warhol (Too Soon), Polsky leads the way through this explosive, short-lived period when the “art world” became the “art market.” He delves into the behind-the-scenes politics of auctions, the shift in power away from galleries, and the search for affordable art in a rich man’s playing field. Unlike most in the art world, Polsky is not afraid to tell it like it is as he negotiates deals for clients in New York, London, and San Francisco and seeks out a replacement for his lost Fright Wig in a market that has galloped beyond his means. A compelling backdoor tell-all about the strange and fickle world of art collecting, I Sold Andy Warhol (Too Soon) takes an unvarnished look at how the industry shifted from art appreciation to monetary appreciation.
Why This? I was too young to understand much about Andy Warhol when he was alive. All I knew is that he was the guy with the funny hair that I would see all over the news, standing in front of soup cans or something else that just didn’t seem to be like any of the art that I had ever been encouraged to make in school. It was probably closer to the stick figures that I was able to carve out, because I was hardly the artist in the family. I come by that honestly- I don’t think anyone else in my family has that talent either. It also always seemed as if Andy Warhol were in trouble for something or another, but I could just be making that up. The ’80’s were a long time ago now, but I think he may have been a controversial figure.
The art market- what’s considered art and the prices which people will pay for that art have always boggled my mind, and it still does. A couple of years ago I went to a Prince exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. After figuring out that Prince the musician didn’t have a side job taking pictures of Marlboro Man ads and exhibiting them in world famous art galleries, a friend and I debated the meaning and the merit of Richard Prince photographing ads and presenting them as art (the whole museum was devoted to the American Cowboy as Marlboro Man).
I sympathize with what happened to Richard Polsky (at least from what I read on the jacket) because I hate buying something and then seeing it for less a month later, so I can only imagine how he felt. But I am very interested in the story that he has to tell and the light that he can shed on the mysteries of the art world. I think I’ll learn some good stuff and you know I’m all about that!
Do you dig art? Do you consider photographs of photographs art? Have you ever seen those canvasses full of seemingly random dots of color and wondered if you too could be an artist? Just curious. I have come to understand and appreciate abstract and modern art a little more but I don’t think it will ever be my favorite. And because I have said that I already feel myself liking it more. I am so contrary!