When looking to buy a piece of art, people outside of the art world can feel overwhelmed when they first hear the jargon of artists and galleries. Is it good when a piece is deemed “accessible”? Is it a complement to call a painting “honest”? Is there something better to say than a sculpture is “interesting”?
Philip Hook, a dealer and auction house specialist, has taken it upon himself to demystify the art world by creating a glossary of common terms. His new book, “Breakfast at Sotheby’s: An A-Z of the Art World”, will expose the true meanings behind the words heard in galleries and auction houses to end what he says is the elevation of mediocrity.
Not only is the jargon used to increase the ability to sell art, but it also camouflages the commercial aspects of it. It seems uncouth to some to be straightforward in selling pieces. Instead they twist terms, such as changing “buying” to “placed, to bring the focus away from the money and more to the art. Those who are familiar with this have no trouble navigating through, but those who are new and interested in buying for the first time can find it all daunting.
Perhaps this new book will help to give “newbies” the confidence to jump in and purchase their first piece of artwork. Or perhaps it will allow those who are selling the art to step away from those overused and meaningless terms. Either way, it may change the art world for the better.