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MCA Talk
Sarah Thornton

Wed, Nov 5, 2014, 6–7 pm

Presented in partnership with the Chicago Humanities Festival and as part of their Richard Gray Visual Art Series, which recognizes a significant gift from founding CHF board member and distinguished art dealer Richard Gray.

In her bestselling book Seven Days in the Art World (2008), Sarah Thornton explored the precious ecosystem of art dealers, collectors, curators, and critics. In her new book 33 Artists in 3 Acts, Thornton turns her gaze on the art world’s principal player by asking the simple but profound question: What is an artist?


About the Artist

Sarah Thornton is a non-fiction writer and sociologist of art. She has written regularly for The Economist and many other publications. A confident public speaker, Thornton has contributed to many radio and television broadcasts. She traveled the globe to interview scores of artists, handpicking those featured in the book. These artists hail from 14 countries on five continents, and range in discipline from sculpture, painting, and photography to performance art. Thornton divides her book into the three richly linked “acts”—politics, kinship, and craft—in order to dig deeply into what motivates artists, how they think about their art and relate to the broader world. The result is a fascinating narrative about some of the world’s most important living artists, and a demystification of what constitutes their work. Choosing the three acts for the book was not difficult, because, as Thornton explains, “they demarcate the ideological border that differentiates artists from non-artists, or ‘real artists’ from unimpressive ones.” As she continues, “Politics, kinship, and craft also happen to embrace some of the most important things in life: caring about your influence on the world, connecting meaningfully with others, and working hard to create something worthwhile.”