Spanning from 1900 to 1990, THE BLACK MARKET: A Guide to Art Collecting by Charles Moore highlights a Black artist born in each decade, while also providing a comprehensive guide to becoming a collector of art created by Black artists. Informative chapters cover topics that include making a study of art books before buying any actual pieces, with titles such as Ways of Seeing and Consuming Stories: Kara Walker and the Imagining of American Race recommended. Additional subjects explored include the ins and outs of art museums, galleries, fairs, schools, residencies, advisors, liaisons, and auctions, along with a few chapters focused on collectors — anonymous and known. The tome also features the financial realities of art ownership, art conservation, installation, transportation, and insurance, therefore making itself feel like the singular ‘must have’ for any budding collectors who are exclusively interested in art made by creators that are Black/of African descent, and/or collectors also busily amassing other types of art as well.
Moore–who holds a Masters degrees in Museum Studies and Finance and is himself a collector of contemporary art–not only documents valuable perspectives via meticulously engaging interviews, but seems to be a knowledgeable fount of wisdom in his own right. As Moore states, this book is intended to offer sound advice meant to save the reader two things: “time and money,” because rich people have plenty of the latter but very limited amounts of time, while non-rich folk may have limits in both departments. In either case, neither the rich nor the poor want to waste precious resources on misguided art purchases. Meanwhile the genuine art collector, according to Moore, takes on a sacred responsibility to then preserve the cultural heritage inherent in the objet d’art obtained. This means learning what one needs to know regarding hazards such as “light, temperature, humidity, pollutants, pests,” etc. Most fascinating perhaps to readers who may not (yet) be art collectors are insights into individuals like Kerry James Marshall, who lived close to Black Panther headquarters and how this affected the social justice nature of his work. In 2018 Marshall’s 1997 painting “Past Times” sold for $21.1 million to Sean Combs/P Diddy, altering the very rarefied air that both Black artists and Black art collectors then began breathing in. Closing with a Glossary and References, there are very few flaws in this book, but one improvement would be a hyperlinked Table of Contents and Index for easier e-book navigation.
Charles Moore’s THE BLACK MARKET is a comprehensive and informative guide to becoming a collector of art created by Black artists, written by an author and collector whose degrees in Museum Studies and Finance lend the book extra clout.
~C.S. Holmes for IndieReader