ROGUES’ GALLERY

PHILIP HOOK (ALLEN & UNWIN, $45)

North & South - - Review -

With 40 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in the Lon­don art mar­ket, Philip Hook is well equipped to shine an un­wa­ver­ing light on a col­lec­tion of deal­ers from an­tiq­uity to the present day. “Lice,” Mar­cel Duchamp called them, “on the back of the artists.” But, like it or not, they serve their pur­pose as mid­dle men, en­cour­ag­ing and ca­jol­ing the artist be­fore pre­sent­ing of­ten con­tro­ver­sial works to the world. Art deal­ers take risks and op­er­ate on gut in­stinct. Im­pres­sion­ism may never have hap­pened with­out Paul Du­rand-ruel, who pro­moted, de­fended and bankrolled the move­ment. And Cu­bism? Noth­ing, with­out the in­put of Daniel-henry Kah­n­weiler. Leo Castelli and Pop Art? In­sep­a­ra­ble. So, these “pur­vey­ors of fan­tasy” – brave and bold? Cer­tainly. And charm­ing, flam­boy­ant, du­plic­i­tous, cun­ning and greedy. Hu­man folly and tri­umph at its best. JU­DITH BARAGWANATH

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