The Contemporaries:  Travels in the 21st Century Art World, Roger White, 2015

A readable, fascinating, and occasionally laugh-out-loud look at today’s contemporary art world.  White gives us three different views of the art world and then three different artists as a way of highlighting the major themes and conditions of the high finance, high style, high chic world of contemporary art.  The first three chapters deal with 1) art schools and the MFA, using RISD as the example and the critique as the setting; 2)the role of the art assistant in the ‘factory production sites’ from Warhol to Koons; and 3)the regional art market using Milwaukee as an example of the strengths and weaknesses of doing art far from the centers of NYC and LA.  The final 3 chapters each focus on one artist:  Dana Shutz as an example of the hot commodity who has major exhibits while still a student and then enters the museum setting; Mary Walling Blackburn as an example of the ‘estranger’ who refuses to create for the market or even an audience but does her thing as weird as it may be for herself and perhaps an audience of one; Steve (Stephen) Kaltenbach, a Conceptual star of the ‘60’s who dropped out and has created a forty year project of the disappeared artists from his home in Sacramento, CA.  This is a fun and informative book that should be read by anyone interested in contemporary art, especially good in the final chapter about Conceptual Art.