Art Blocks Book Club

I don’t shill things often, but I’m comfortable shilling the Art Blocks Book Club. It’s a small group of great community members that get together every Sunday to chat about their weekly assigned reading. No, this isn’t homework.

The Book Club was inspired by an episode of After Dinner Mints where Snowfro mentioned he was reading through the book, The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art. It piqued the interest of some audience members, and the idea was floated about starting a Book Club. Thanks to yungwknd, dbochman, and Alex from Generative Artworks, that club is still going strong over six months later.

The group meets in our Discord‘s #weekly-bookclub channel every Sunday at 9pm CT to chat. The members set the reading cadence. Depending on the content, it’s typically around 1 chapter per week or ten pages. So far, they’ve read The $12 Million Stuffed Shark, and they’re currently reading When the Machine Made Art.

The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art

The $12 Million Stuffed Shark delves into the economics and psychology of the contemporary art world — artists, dealers, auction houses, and wealthy collectors. If it’s true — as so often said — that 85 percent of new contemporary art is bad, why were record prices achieved at auction for works by 131 contemporary artists in 2006 alone, with astonishing new heights reached in 2007? The $12 Million Stuffed Shark explores money, lust, and the self-aggrandizement of possession in an attempt to determine what makes a particular work of art valuable while others are ignored.

In the style of the bestselling Freakonomics, Thompson uses economic concepts to explain the unique practices employed, to great success, in the international contemporary art market. He discusses branding and marketing and how various strategies are tailored to a wealthy clientele, driving a “must-have” culture. Drawing on exclusive interviews with both past and present executives of auction houses and art dealerships, artists, and the buyers who move the market, Thompson launches the reader on a surprising journey of discovery.

When the Machine Made Art: The Troubled History of Computer Art

Considering how culturally indispensable digital technology is today, it is ironic that computer-generated art was attacked when it burst onto the scene in the early 1960s. In fact, no other twentieth-century art form has elicited such a negative and hostile response. When the Machine Made Art examines the cultural and critical response to computer art, or what we refer to today as digital art. Tracing the heated debates between art and science, the societal anxiety over nascent computer technology, and the myths and philosophies surrounding digital computation, Taylor is able to identify the destabilizing forces that shape and eventually fragment the computer art movement.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Book Club, check out their page on Artblocks.wiki. You can also pop into Discord and jump right into the #weekly-bookclub channel.

Here is a list of books they’re considering next:

  • Math Art: Truth, Beauty, and Equations by Stephen Ornes
  • A Biography of the Pixel by Alvy Ray Smith
  • How Music Got Free by Stephen Witt
  • Foundations of Color by Jeff Davis
  • The Art of Doing Science and Engineering: Learning to Learn by Richard W. Hamming

If any of those sound interesting to you, reach out and get involved!

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