Philip Hook’s fascinating and elegantly written book, Rogues Gallery | A History of Art and its Dealers, is a close examination of the history of the art-money nexus and the middlemen, the art dealers, who make the connection.
How do you market paintings? How does the art market function? Who are the dealers?
With over forty years of experience as expert, auctioneer, and dealer at Sotheby’s, Philip Hook takes us through the fascinating history of art dealers from the Renaissance to contemporary times. He guides us expertly through the very beginnings of dealership in the Renaissance, where there were agents and merchants selling art. He then goes on to analyse the increasing complexities of the role of the European art dealer as the centuries move on until, arriving at the middle of the 1800s, we come across a world recognisable as almost contemporary in terms of its commercial aspirations, cash flow and aggressive business methods.
Artists, dealers and collectors who feature with Hook include Picasso, dealer Paul Durand-Ruel and collector Peggy Guggenheim. There are plenty of rogues but also there are famous dealers who changed the art world because they championed artists and movements. Through intriguing stories, the author covers a wide range of people to demonstrate, as Robert Hughes explained, “the price of a work of art is an index of pure, irrational desire, and nothing is more manipulable than desire”.
Join The Friends Book Club for another stimulating morning and enjoy some interesting discussion on this fascinating book.
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