The Black Market

A Guide to Art Collecting

Non-Fiction - Art/Photography
204 Pages
Reviewed on 10/17/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

The Black Market by Charles Moore is a non-fiction self-help novice's guide to the world of art collection. Moore homes in on the African-American art market and begins with a brief history of art's accessibility followed by the next steps for those who are interested in building a collection that has both the ability to move a buyer emotionally and the ability to serve the buyer well as an investment. Moore breaks down the stories of individual artists and collectors, their contributions, motivations, impact, and drives, such as collector Elan Nieves, who says, “The Met felt like home, and I knew from an early age I would buy pieces of my own.” Moore also covers the technical and practical aspects of buying and selling, including insurance, transport, and auctions, among many other things.

There's no question that for most people, even the idea of art collecting is intimidating. This applies to lovers of art and those who have little more than a passing interest, which is exactly why The Black Market and what Charles Moore details are so very important. I happen to live in a country now where art galleries are free to enter as it is believed these works belong to everyone but felt pulled back as he outlined why gallery memberships are worth their dues and clarified for me why they can often be so inaccessible. It was also interesting to read about Art Basel which I've heard so much about but never really looked into. It's rare to feel excited about a discovery these days when everything can be tapped with instant gratification and the world has gotten so small we can communicate with anyone, anywhere, at any time. But in art, we have this connection to what is, what was, and what is to come. It shifts and evolves constantly, and knowing it's entirely within reach? Now that's exciting.

K.C. Finn

The Black Market: A Guide To Art Collecting is a work of non-fiction focused on the world of art and culture, and was penned by author Charles Moore. In this concise but highly informative guide, the author seeks to provide valuable information for those wanting to step into the art world and begin a collection of meaningful and inspiring works. Particularly focused on the history and progress of African American art, the work begins with a series of essays on this topic as well as a literary review explaining the connection between culture and the art produced over the years. This is followed by an accessible guide to the collection, storage, insurance and so much more.

Author Charles Moore has crafted a fantastic beginner’s book for would-be collectors who have long admired art from afar but do not yet have the skills to step into the world of collecting. One of the things which I particularly enjoyed about the guidebook section of the work was the fact that it truly can be accessed by anyone at any knowledge level, thanks to Moore’s friendly narrative style, which uses clear formatting and syntax as well as avoiding too much jargon. The history section provides a wonderful exploration into one very special and meaningful area of the art world that needs to be celebrated much more, and this is penned in such inspiring and informative tones that it will be sure to excite would-be collectors as well as prepare them. Overall, I would certainly recommend The Black Market: A Guide To Art Collecting for those who need it.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Starting an art collection can be mind-boggling. There are so many artists, past and present, to choose from and the prices can range from a steal at a garage sale (doesn’t happen often) to thousands and even millions of dollars. So, where does one start? Charles Moore suggests starting by collecting books. Why? Because books provide the knowledge one needs to make a wise decision in the world of collecting art. In his book, The Black Market: A Guide to Art Collecting, he includes a concise chapter on good books to help the would-be art collector learn about the art before buying it. Basically, books are a key source to lead one in the right direction in the art world, to know what one is looking for in art.

Art museums, archives, libraries are also good sources of information. One needs to study first, to appreciate what’s been deemed worthy in the art world, to understand the artists’ minds. For Charles Moore, art collecting focusses on works by African Americans, the relatively unrecognized and underappreciated black artists, both past and present, hence the title of this book. The author has organized his presentation with consideration to great detail: books, museums, who and what to consider when looking at works by African American artists, what to expect to pay at various selling venues from the art fairs to the classy, commercial galleries, and so much more. The author is obviously well educated in the area, has done considerable research, and presents his thesis well. The only thing missing, in my opinion, are illustrations, which, when discussing some key African American artists and specific examples of their work, would enhance his presentation. He concludes with a comprehensive glossary of art terms and a detailed bibliography. Well presented.