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Sarah Thornton: Artists at Work


Sarah Thornton writes about art, the art world, and the art market. Renowned for her book Seven Days in the Art World, she discusses her new research project about the working lives and identities of contemporary artists. Michael Darling, MCA James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator, interviews Thornton.

A book signing takes place before the talk at 6:30 pm.

About the Speaker

Since 2002, Sarah Thornton has been investigating the social and cultural dynamics of contemporary art. Her book, Seven Days in the Art World, is based on extensive ethnographic research, including in-depth interviews with over 250 people and hundreds of hours of participant observation. The book has already been translated into eight languages.

A Canadian who went to Britain on a Commonwealth Scholarship, Thornton has a BA in Art History and a PhD in Sociology. She writes about contemporary art for The Economist and, occasionally, other publications. She contributes to broadcasts by BBC TV and radio, ZDF television, and NPR radio. Thornton's PhD was published by Polity Press as Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital. She coedited the first edition of The Subcultures Reader.

Thornton is a frequent guest speaker. She has contributed to a wide range of conference panels and conversations and has recently spoken at Cambridge and Oxford Universities (England), the Royal College of Art and Goldsmiths’ College (London), Bocconi University (Milan), UNAM (Mexico City), the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Buenos Aires), UCLA (Los Angeles), the Corcoran (Washington DC), and the Art Gallery of Ontario, among other institutions.


The Richard and Mary L. Gray Lectures are made possible through a generous gift to the Chicago Contemporary Campaign. This program is presented in partnership with the University of Chicago.