The Art Prophets- The Artists, Dealers, and Tastemakers Who Shook The Art World

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In The Art Prophets, Richard Polsky introduces us to influential late twentieth-century dealers and tastemakers in the art world. These risk takers opened doors for artists, identified new movements, and resurrected art forms that had fallen into obscurity. In this distinctive tour, Polsky offers an insightful and engaging dialog between artists and the visionaries who paved their way.

Table of contents:
-Ivan Karp and Pop Art
-Stan Lee and Comic Book Art
-Chet Helms, Bill Graham, and the Art of the Poster
-John Ollman and Outsider Art
-Joshua Baer and Native American Art
-Virginia Dwan and Earthworks
-Tod Volpe and Ceramics
-Jeffrey Fraenkel and Photography
-Louis Meisel and Photorealism
-Tony Shafrazi and Street Art

“Part art history, part character study and biography, this wonderful book about the business of art reads like a runaway horse. You don’t dare jump off! Hang on and enjoy every page.”

-Sophy Burnham, author of The Art Crowd


Boneheads- My Search for T.Rex

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Richard Polsky’s seriously hilarious new book Boneheads: My Search for T. Rex leads us deep into the South Dakota badlands where he discovers a lost tribe — the Boneheads — and becomes one of them. This oddball group of dinosaur hunters is intent on bagging the Holy Grail of the profession — a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton. Fewer than fifty skeletons have ever been found, but one of them brought $8.3 million at Sotheby’s.

Meet the Boneheads, a modern stone-age family: There’s Stan and Steve Sacrisson, eccentric twins from South Dakota, with an uncanny sense for locating rexes. Though one is a gravedigger and the other sleeps in his car, the pair have discovered three of them. Then there’s cowboy Bucky Derflinger who discovered two rexes and bought a cattle ranch with the million-dollar proceeds. And finally there’s the tribe’s monarch: Bob Detrich, a former male model and ball-bearing salesman who goes by the name Fossil King. Polsky goes into the field to follow a childhood obsession, only to learn that finding a dinosaur is a rocky journey. So come along with Richard Polsky as he gets out into the field in pursuit of a T. rex of his own. Or as the author puts it, “Let others hunt trilobites! I want the big one!”

“Boneheads offers a brief glimpse of this unique world in which every fossil has its price.”

- Brian Sitek (The Smithsonian)



I Sold Andy Warhol. (too soon)

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In this instructive, irreverent and often uproarious memoir, Polsky explains the capricious functioning of the art market and the economic and cultural forces that have transformed it from the 1980s, when art dealers fostered relationships with artists and other dealers, into today’s market when dealers cultivate stronger relationships with auction houses than with collectors and artists. Polsky (I Bought Andy Warhol) is a high-spirited and self-deprecating raconteur who relishes exposing the idiosyncrasies, absurdities and hypocrisies of his industry and its biggest players. A highly enjoyable and informative insider’s guide to a milieu to which few are privy, this will be of interest to the general reader seeking to understand the art world’s economic evolution and cultural impact, told through a delightfully vital mixture of memoir, reportage and social satire.

“An exciting, engaging and marvelously candid view of the art world. For anyone even faintly curious about art this is a must.”

- Thomas Hoving, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art





I Bought Andy Warhol

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So what was it like to be an art dealer in the go-go ‘80s? California-based private dealer Richard Polsky drops some juicy anecdotes into an account of his quest to add a Warhol painting to his personal collection. The title of his book, I Bought Andy Warhol, is a wink-wink reference to a film about a disgruntled Factory member who shot the artist in 1968. Polsky’s attitude is wryly bemused as he recounts tales of practical jokes, petty grudges, peculiar dining experiences, and other indignities that befall a little guy in a world of sharks. The cast of characters includes heavyweight New York dealers Ivan Karp, Jim Corcoran, and Larry Gagosian as well as mid-range collectors and artists better known in California than in Manhattan. Warhol himself makes no personal appearances, though Polsky assiduously tracks fluctuations in the superstar’s market value. Along the way, there are useful nuggets ranging from questions a potential art buyer should ask a dealer to typical auction house pricing strategies. The author is a likeable character who demonstrates surprising candor about trying to make a living in the early ‘90s, when art prices plummeted. While some readers may be taken aback by Polsky’s relentless stress on the monetary worth of a work of art as opposed to its aesthetic value, his book is a gossipy account of running a unique kind of business, selling one-of-a-kind products in a highly volatile market.

“I Bought Andy Warhol is a wry, smart, intimate journey through the contemporary art world. Polsky’s pursuit of Warhol is a perfect chance to see the art market and its characters in high relief.”

-Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief