Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Tuesday's Aside : Overprotective Gallerists

Tuesday's Aside, a weekly post in which I will try to answer your questions. In order to keep each Tuesday's thread on topic, I'll ask that you post any additional questions on the original thread (even though it will fall off the main page, I'll be emailed each time a new comment is added there and so, thus, will be monitoring continuously).
______________________________


Anonymous wrote:
Over the last several years I have been working with a young contemporary art gallery that I have a lot of respect for. Over time, she revealed how she frowned upon the other galleries with which I had built relationships. She felt the shows would reflect directly on her reputation and the reputation of her gallery. Eventually, she encouraged/instructed me to end all relationships with these other galleries. The dealer promised to be my sole representative and vigorously promote my work to “bigger” named galleries and museums. Thus allowing her name not to be soiled by the artist she shows.

Long story short this never came to fruition and pushing my work into more “luxurious” markets was more trouble than it was worth to her. Now, I feel abandoned all together. I need to start cultivating relationships with other galleries but still feel this weight to ask permission from the dealer before moving forward because she is the only gallery I have at the moment. She generally wants me to succeed and have a great career. But, once I take on a show with other galleries not in the proper circle, she starts to feel insecure and lets me know I have made horrible decisions and that I shouldn’t have taken on the show in the first place. I approach each situation with extreme patience because I feel she is learning everyday, as am I.

Is it common for dealers to determine for their artists where they show & who they show with? I feel her ego is more of a priority than my career at this point. If this situation is growing pains for a young professional artist….I’m happy to tread these waters as best I know how and be patient. Deep down, I want this relationship to work for me and her….but, feeling very frustrated at the moment.

Any feedback you could provide would be greatly appreciated.
Personally, I'm very impressed with your insights on this. You seem to have carefully considered all angles and still express respect for the dealer. She's lucky to be working with you.

The first question I would ask you in this situation Anonymous is how long has it been since you ended the relationship with your other galleries. You state that "pushing my work into more 'luxurious' markets was more trouble than it was worth to her." Is that based on her telling you so or a conclusion you've reached after too much time passing by? I ask because you indicate that you and the gallerist are both young and learning, suggesting to me it hasn't been that much time yet.

The following is not an assessment of your gallerist, per se. There is not enough information for me to conclude this applies to her (in fact, your first paragraph could be read to suggest this is not the case). Still, there can be a tendency among some dealers to be very protective of the markets they feel they've built. By that I mean a dealer takes on an unknown artist and through a considerable investment of time, money, and reputation generates interest in his/her work. Once that hard work is done then, other galleries in other cities become interested (smelling easy money now that there's a proven market and a reputation). Unless the first gallerist can see an advantage for themselves in their artists working with one of those other galleries (i.e., the association would reflect well upon them, they might get access to artists the other gallery represents, etc.), they might resent these other galleries profiting from their hard work.

The notion that other galleries' reputations will "soil" your gallerist's reputation is hard to judge without more information (How "bad" were those other galleries? Would any of them be admitted to the same level of art fair as your current gallery is? Would any of them be admitted as members to the same associations?). In general, I think there's a chance your gallerist might be overthinking this. Again, the details here would make a difference in my opinion.

As much as people love to pick on NADA galleries, I do have to say that the core belief that binds the members (that it's better to work together to increase the size of the market than to try to protect your little slice of it) is something I truly believe in. Also, galleries struggling to build their reputations today might just break through into the upper echelon tomorrow, so unless your other dealers were just awful, I feel your primary dealer might profit from being a bit more patient with those relationships you had built.

Long story short, unless your gallery is placing all your work into excellent collections and you have a waiting list, the truth is she could probably use some help in building your market. I understand the urge to protect her investment, but she might benefit much more down the road by increasing the pie, so to speak, than hovering over the current-sized slice of it.

How you discuss that with her sounds like it will be tricky, though.

You ask "Is it common for dealers to determine for their artists where they show & who they show with?" It is common for dealers to have opinions about other galleries and their reputations, and they owe it to their artists to share their insights. But I wouldn't go so far as to say it's up to them to "determine" where and who they show with. If they can get you into a bigger gallery than you can on your own, by all means, take advantage of that. If they can't get you into a bigger gallery, though, they should IMO limit their advice to just that: advice.
"Instructing" you on where to show might be more acceptable if your dealer was very well established, but from your description it sounds as if she's still coming along as a gallerist and so is perhaps, again, overthinking the repercussions of your working with other galleries she does not see as "good enough."

I would recommend inviting her to lunch or for coffee. Some neutral location outside the gallery or your studio. This invitation alone will tell her you wish to discuss something and you're serious about it, so don't say more than that before you meet. Let her mind wander, in order to give her time to reflect on what her position on your relationship is.

Once you're both relaxed, I would then say something like, "I am very happy working with you. I have a great deal of respect for you and the gallery and believe great things are in store for us all. I wanted to talk with you though about other galleries. I know you've asked me to be patient and I feel I have been, but unless you have some other galleries you believe will be willing to work with me in the near future, I feel I need to find some places in other cities to exhibit as well. I understand your concerns about how the reputations of other galleries can reflect upon you, and I'll certainly take that into account, but it's important to me that I take advantage of where I am at this point in my career."

You're likely to hear a replay of her promise to "vigorously promote [your] work to “bigger” named galleries," and I'm sure she'll be sincere. But you might ask her to compromise with you until that time. Let you work as well to find one other gallery in another city. You'll promise to discuss it with her before signing anything, but you would hope she'd understand why you're interested in branching out beyond the one location and how anxious you are to expand your audience.
Emphasize that you've learned from her about what to look for in another gallery (whether true or not) and that you're confident her advice will lead you to better decisions as you move forward.

I wouldn't offer this advice if you hadn't stated that "Deep down, I want this relationship to work for me and her." I'd suggest you be a bit more assertive, actually. But if this is a gallery you're happy to be associated with and you feel a bit of patience on your end will pay off, then this gentler approach might just do the trick.


Good luck.

Labels:

29 Comments:

OpenID deborahfisher said...

Edward,
All these Tuesday posts are helpful and interesting, but this one really goes to eleven.

This is a complex situation, and I really appreciate the way both you and anonymous are looking past blame and thinking about solutions that are win-win.

I am curious about strategies dealers use--particularly creating v. protecting a market. What are the nuts and bolts of this? And when you create or expand a market, are you worried about diluting the luxury aspect of the art?

This is tangential to the thread, but it seems like the hardest dilemma a gallerist faces. My limited understanding of the market is that it thrives on luxury tactics: depriving some people of product in order to increase perceived value. Like deBeers hoarding diamonds.

This leads to Machiavellianism, sure. Creating a market, a'la Mixed Greens or Winkleman, seems like a better option. But when you do that, does that change the value of the art itself?

(Not assuming anything here--genuinely asking how it works...)

7/08/2008 10:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had mixed experience with this, some of my galleries are very protective of their turfs, and it has been difficult, but i usually persist and keep on reminding myself that i am the director of where i show, not the gallerist. however, sometimes my new york gallery has advised me not to show with someone and its turned out to be the right decision. so i listen to them, the pros and cons, and then make my own decision, and if i am clear in what i want, they usually agree. sometimes one needs help with europe because a lot of european galleries look good physically but end up not being worth it. or able to sell work. also you have to be careful about the shipping costs, if a gallery bitches about how much its going to cost them to ship the work, from my experience stay away, then they are not really serious about showing you. they shouldnt show americans if they are going to complain about how much it costs to ship. that shouldnt be your problem. i have noticed that gallerists dont want to share so its important to get your own deals with separate galleries if you can. usually this takes one or two shows of selling before you can demand this relationship.

7/08/2008 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Ed if you ever get tired of being an art dealer I’m sure you could have a brilliant career as a marriage counselor.

Admittedly there are several points that are unstated. Basically your dealer is asking for “exclusivity” a position where they are your soul representative. If they are a “serious” dealer, they should give you something in return like guaranteed sales, a stipend or some other element, catalogs, prime exposure at major fairs etc.

The fear of having you work with other galleries that don’t come up to your dealers standards is a tricky point. My gallery was approached by a new Swiss gallery who were hot for an exhibition. My dealer said they were too new and didn’t meet her level of standards. Turns out, this gallery becomes one of the best galleries in Europe, was in business till the guy decided to start his own foundation and promote Asian art fairs (you’d all know the name). Not only did I miss a great, once in a lifetime opportunity, but spoiled any chances of starting a relationship with the Swiss cat after my dealer left the scene.

Ed also restates the point “a dealer takes on an unknown artist and through a considerable investment of time, money, and reputation generates interest in his/her work.” Which is true but as most dealers are working with several artists (usually twelve of more) there is rarely the same level of monogamy on the dealer’s side. That said, developing a trusting relationship is a valuable point, and you may decide that lessening your potential temporarily might pay off in the long run, but maybe not.

In some cases there’s a fear that you will be snatched away by a better or more attentive and active dealer/gallery. This is just one of the things that’ll happen anyway regardless.

Many local artists get fed up with the NY art scene and aren’t even represented locally, relying on “out-of-town” galleries to do their promotion, and handling the New York stuff themselves. This can be a valid gambit but should only be relied on if you’ve had a lot of experience, developed a network of contacts and know how to navigate the larger scene solo.

Ed’s point of galleries working together for a bigger pie is enlightened and, I hope this kind of thinking spreads, but…

The artist dealer relationship is delicate, like a good marriage, it should be based on trust, and mutual interest, but remember when opportunity knocks in the art world answer the door, things are moving so fast that it never knocks twice.

Ed, I hope you don’t consider this cynical, but having been around the block one too many times, I’d just like to give an artists view with some hindsight to your very eloquent and knowledgeable dealer perspective.

7/08/2008 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Creating a market, a'la Mixed Greens or Winkleman, seems like a better option. But when you do that, does that change the value of the art itself?

I'm not sure there's any significant difference between the goals of Mixed Greens, my gallery, and most other galleries with regards to the value of the art. Perhaps simply a difference in spin.

Luxury tactics are implicit in the price of most art by emerging artists, IMO. Once they get more established, then things change.

I don't want to say more than that, here, though. Things get tricky form this point and a blog is not a good place to discuss the subtleties I've decided after drafting three responses that go into more detail and all ended up sounding wrong to me.

Sorry about that. I'll think a bit more about luxury tactics and try to post about it later.

also you have to be careful about the shipping costs, if a gallery bitches about how much its going to cost them to ship the work, from my experience stay away, then they are not really serious about showing you.

This depends on the size of the gallery. Some younger galleries without big shipping budgets may indeed be very serious about showing you (and may be rising stars among galleries). Don't be afraid to work with a gallery and invest in yourself if it looks like it could pay off in the long run. I think you could safely conclude this about more established galleries, but for emerging ones, I'd say this is not so cut and dry.

7/08/2008 11:05:00 AM  
OpenID deborahfisher said...

Perhaps simply a difference in spin.

Yes. I see that. But spin can be powerful, and the thing that fascinates me about marketing art is that it has no inherent value--it's not a widget or a bushel of grain. So spin, or perceptions of importance, seem to take on even more significance.

That's what makes such a common-sense question about who knows what's best for your career so complicated.

I appreciate both the difficulty of writing about "luxury tactics" and your intent to think more about it.

But you know, I understand if you don't ever want to talk about any of that stuff. It's weird, and while I appreciate your openness, I also understand that this blog is a marketing tool. That blog ethics should not condemn you to showing everyone your man behind your curtain.

7/08/2008 11:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Stephen from Platform Gallery said...

This depends on the size of the gallery. Some younger galleries without big shipping budgets may indeed be very serious about showing you . . . . Don't be afraid to work with a gallery and invest in yourself if it looks like it could pay off in the long run. I think you could safely conclude this about more established galleries, but for emerging ones, I'd say this is not so cut and dry.

AMEN!

7/08/2008 11:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i started to work with a younger gallery in europe some years ago, to the consternation of my more established new york gallery, they told me not to do it, but he has become very well respected and successful in the process, DOES complain about the shipping, but does it anyway and ends up selling almost everything i make. so trust your instincts about the individual first. is anyone feeling new york is becoming irrelevant anyway? some of the artists here who everybody loves nobody has even heard of abroad....

7/08/2008 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

is anyone feeling new york is becoming irrelevant anyway? some of the artists here who everybody loves nobody has even heard of abroad....

That's another thread, actually, but in short, there's no doubt in my mind that New York's previous, total dominance is being impacted by the economy and globalization of the art market, but that does not even come close to meaning New York is approaching "irrelevance." (As I predicted a while back, London seems to be becoming the most feasible heir to the title "Center of the Art World." Mostly, I'd say due to its strong economy and its governments support of the arts...hint, hint D.C.).

Artists have always been more "heard of" in certain quarters than others. The most famous artists in the world probably sell less in certain places that the more popular artists in those places. Some artists will never be popular in some places because of the nature of their work (think Henry Darger or Lisa Yuskavage in Dubai, for example). This doesn't mean their work isn't incredible or that, if they're still living, they should water down what their doing to increase their universal appeal, IMHO.

7/08/2008 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I should note that I think London's location is contributing to its rising stature as an arts center, as well.

7/08/2008 12:14:00 PM  
Anonymous PV said...

This is a generous post Ed...thanks.

7/08/2008 01:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Normally, I sign my name to these posts, but I'm going anon for this one:

In my experience, the New York galleries want more control over you than the out-of-town galleries. You'd think this would be a good thing, and it could be, but as James K points out, that leaves you monogomous and the gallery the equivalent of a Utah husband.

I needed to support myself from the sale of my art. My NY gallery was not selling my work sufficiently for me to be able to do that, so I needed to establish a national network, and I had to leave my NY gallery to do it. (Yes, I'm aware that the NY connection was very helpful in securing that first couple of regional galleries; but after that, it was my own exhibition record.)

Now I show in NY as an independent artist. I have mixed feeling about it, but I actually support myself from my art, and I get reviewed. In general, I've created a kind of uber-gallery for myself: one sells very well and takes out magazine ads, another includes me in high-profile shows, some take me to the art fairs, others get me reviewed.

What I bring to them is a degree of visibility (and to a serious but less experienced gallery, my own experience). And I'm totally honest with them about the who, what, where and how much.

I also know that representation in a NY gallery is not a forever thing--either because you change, it changes, or the market forces change. So for now, I'm happy with this arrangement. I've been happy with it for the eight years. In eight years from now, who knows?

7/08/2008 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

i relate to the last post by anon :56:00 pm- i showed with the first 2 galleries that asked me when i was starting out 10 years ago and i stuck with them for a while until we grew apart- one got me reviewed, and one worked with me on a private lecture/reception/event but they both sold my work and found collectors- both stipulated agreements if the collectors in the future wanted to come to me directly- which i totally agree with- and they gave me some good feedback about how to push my work sometimes, oftentimes it was make more like the ones that are selling- i dont know what i thought working with a gallery would be like but its a tough learning curve- mebbe i jumped in before i was ready- but i got used to the grind of producing alot of work and have built a reputation as a prolific artist- but i have been out of the gallery scene for the past 5 years and recently jumped back in at the urging of some very good friends- its a hard call how to build your career- the reason i left the galleries were that although i knew they liked my work- i didnt feel like they believed in me as much as i believed in myself and once i figured out what they should be doing and werent i left and started to do the foot work on my own- its nearly impossible to build a market without a gallery or put it another way- once you have reputation its more advantageous to find a gallery who can be a business partner in the market but i agree the key to success is communication- and experience, setting goals, doing your homework all help the gallery/artist rapport

7/08/2008 02:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Winkleman

Thank you for your time and consideration of my original post. Here are some answers to questions you raised in your posting.

How long has it been since you ended the relationship with your other galleries.

Most ties with galleries have been cut over the last 24-30 months. The most recent was 5 months ago.

“Pushing my work was more trouble than it was worth.”

Searching for an honest answer, I would have to say this was a rough conclusion based on listening to her speak about her gallery in general & observing her words did not match her actions. She would be really excited about contacting these more luxurious galleries, but later decided that she didn’t feel comfortable…..Also, we did sit down together and she became unsettled with her roster of artists for sometime and would vocalize her concerns with ever being able to stick to a list of artists’ year in and year out. I was beginning to sense that she wanted much more freedom/ “flexibility” in the talent she wished to display. Binding relationships with artists made it that much harder to grow through her ideas and visions. I can completely understand this thinking because it relates to a creative mind and creation and growth lies in freedom. Without really coming out and saying it she was implying that I was now a part of that “flexible” equation. I was an artist she was open to promoting and personally nurturing to the world and almost overnight her tone and manner changed. While I was on the phone with other galleries telling them why I had to end my relationships with them, her speeches became more about utilizing her time to conduct a ballad or operatic symphony than to work with individuals on their careers, mine or anyone else in her list of talent. My head was swimming with thoughts that if my gallerist was having a hard time getting my work into a more desired market what chance would I have on my own. I felt cornered and left to sift through the galleries that still wanted to show me–but, not necessarily the ones I felt whole heartedly related to.

Tendency among some dealers to be very protective of the markets they feel they've built. Once that hard work is done then, other galleries in other cities become interested (smelling easy money).

I couldn’t agree more and I am honored to have a relationship with a gallery that believes in my work as much as she does. I have always tried to honor that relationship. And yes it is really obvious when galleries come out of the grass after a successful show and try to ride the momentum of the artist at that point. The frustration stems from first feeling protected for my own good – which, completely comforted me….changed to my reputation and vision is of more priority. I believe deep down she feels bad about leading me down a path with less opportunities.

The notion that other galleries' reputations will "soil" your gallerist's reputation is hard to judge. How "bad" were those other galleries? Would any of them be admitted to the same level of art fair as your current gallery is?

The other galleries weren’t bad or horrible by any means. They weren’t the desired market or audience, but were willing to work hard for me. Being new, she has never participated in any art fairs, so to me having representation at an art fair is better than none at all. I would say all of the galleries differ in ideals and goals. I view my gallery as a visionary willing to starve for ideals where the other galleries know how to make a lukewarm meal and survive. I have respect for both.

Would any of them be admitted as members to the same associations?

No

Long story short, unless your gallery is placing all your work into excellent collections and you have a waiting list, the truth is she could probably use some help in building your market.

This is happening slowly but the breaking point still hasn’t hit with my audience. As hard as I work I have no doubt that at some point in my career my list of collectors will grow. People will take notice, but it will take time and navigation through the sometimes muddy gallery waters to prevail.

7/08/2008 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Ed. within the thread subject, what’s your opinion of “private dealers/art consultants”, do you work with them, find them useful for artists? Any run-ins with artist’s “agents”?

7/08/2008 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Oh yeah, lay off the Utah husbands. (I'm a Ute)

7/08/2008 02:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

James,
No offense meant to you. I'll bet you don't have more than one wife at a time. It's those plural guys I was thinking about.

7/08/2008 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Ed. within the thread subject, what’s your opinion of “private dealers/art consultants”, do you work with them, find them useful for artists? Any run-ins with artist’s “agents”?

Private dealers and art consultants, yes. Enjoy working with both.

Artist's agents, I have no experience with. Feel that would be redundant with my role to the degree that I wouldn't want to bother.

7/08/2008 03:32:00 PM  
Anonymous timothy buckwalter said...

When I started reading today's post I was a little taken aback.

It was like "Anonymous" had penned much of my career experience.

Until two years ago, I had an exclusive deal with a gallery (in began in '98). Initially, they asked that I ditch all the other galleries with which I was working. They would take me to fairs, get me into other cities and place my pieces in corporate and museum collections. They would take care of the exhibition deals (like shipping, and the paperwork) with anyone they lined up for me in the future. In exchange, they would get a cut of all my sales (not just ones that took place in their space).

At first, this was a perfect arrangement for me.

I was more than happy to give up working with my other galleries. Sure its rewarding to tackle the business side of art, but often the emotional turmoil I felt when working with a gallery (like failure to pay in a timely fashion, outrageous discounts, damaging the work etc) took a toll on my making art (ie I would sit around and obsess about the situation, for days and sometimes weeks, instead of painting).

As time passed, my exclusive gallery did me get two shows in other cities. And into some corporate collections. I went to numerous art fair. I have bi-yearly solo shows and was in groups annualy at their gallery. They sold enough that I was doing fine.

In 2002, our relationship began to cool. Over that time I had sent people interested in my work to them, but the gallery never followed thru. They also got me some commissions, that never paid. They were dropping the ball. Ultimately two other shows (in only one other gallery) materialized through their efforts.

My work was beginning to become more abstract, and the gallery was beginning to change its course. They were showing work that was more beautiful, less challenging. (I'm not saying that my work is super challenging, as far as art goes. My paintings are images on abstract fields – which really draw people in. But the titles tend to make the paintings harder to deal with. Its like meeting a pretty person at a party, but when you talk to them they seem really fucked up. So, unless you are attracted to that kinda messed up relationship, you're not gonna take them along home.)

Certainly, with hindsight I can see there is a limited market for my work, and there is that whole eggs in one basket cliche. But when offered the exclusive deal, it was a real psyche boost.

Two years ago, after a show of my photos, they told me could do what I liked. The exclusive deal was off.

Shortly, after that I began doing a bazillion drawings that I parlayed into a weekly online show. The pieces sold, I got a lot of feedback, made many wonderful new friend, and my ego felt better.

Now, I'm back to shopping for galleries like I did early last decade. I'm even back with one of my former galleries. But its like getting together again with an ex-, you both don’t trust the other person and unless something phenomenal happens you don’t really care about the other person, its just easy adn comfortable.

The exclusive deal can be good or even great, but like Edward writes you gotta be open with them. Check in a lot (but not in an agitated or bothersome way, the gallery does have an ego as well. They also have a huge amount of work to do, much of it on your behalf – so try not to waste their time).

Also make sure the frustration you feel with the gallery is not something that is coming from a frustration or failures that you might feel in your work.

7/08/2008 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger pam farrell said...

Kalm James says: "Basically your dealer is asking for “exclusivity” a position where they are your soul representative."

Amen, brother!

7/08/2008 08:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm curious what people think of Mixed Greens. Is it seen as prestigious/serious/well-regarded as other good Chelsea galleries that show emerging to mid-career artists?

I like their mission and unpretentiousness as well as their program.

7/08/2008 11:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mixed greens - i remember being almost taken aback at how super friendly and gracious they were - two people - when i visited the old space (the immediately previous space?) that was in an upper floor of a building, and most of the space seemed like open office, with only a very small room that would be considered a gallery.

unfortunately, not into any of the artists/program, at all.

7/09/2008 12:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed, thank you for this post, I think it's a very helpful one. I am having a love/hate relationship with my gallerist and this really helped a lot. I'll probably end up dropping him and take the courage once again to be without a gallery.


(A different Anonymous)

7/09/2008 09:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Jen said...

I look at this as your identity as an artist and how you want your career to reflect that.
I have left two galleries that are on the verge of vanity galleries. They have a split personality, part of their programs are dedicated to more cutting edge contemporary work because they are passionate about that type of work but, they cannot stay in business as that work does not sell enough to pay the bills so they have another program that is "safe" work that sells to a broader market.(BTW they are not located in NYC) They are not invited to art fairs for this reason and therefore are ineffective and frankly, bad for my reputation.
So, now after having made a couple of bad decisions regarding my representation (my decisions were based on earning enough money to be a full-time artist), I am focused on those galleries (emerging ones too!) that will reflect how I want my work and career to be viewed ie. taken seriously. It comes with some sacrifice too...I was a full-time artist and now that I'm down to one gallery(which I'm dropping as well) I have to work at a full-time job to make ends meet and to re-invent myself now is ever harder but it's that important to me to make it happen on my terms.
I guess I'm saying that if you want to be considered on a level with say Sikkema-Jenkins for example, you need to enter their playing field however you can.
Anon of this original post, you are very articulate and insightful about this situation and I know you'll end up where you need to be. Good luck!

7/09/2008 11:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I respect Mixed Greens' mission statement, but sometimes they make me worry that artists may need to be treated unfairly if they are going to produce good work. I hate their program. There are exceptions to this, but in general it is like student work.

7/09/2008 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

OK, so there's no gallery program in the world everybody likes. With that in mind, I'll ask folks not to use this thread to comment on any given gallery's program. There are other sites for that.

thanks
e_

7/09/2008 12:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(i was told this is an interesting site if one does not know ny just yet! so thanks winkleman for your considerations)


here is my problem:

jen wrote " They are not invited to art fairs for this reason and therefore are ineffective and frankly, bad for my reputation."

I am really curious about this.I am not from ny and have only been here two months. there is this ny chelsea gallery at which i had a show for the 1st time just last year. i had a video installations with sculpture that consisted of wall to floor drawings. but the gallerist was not happy that i brought work that she could 'not sell'. i was horrified to find out that she relies on inquiries on the internet! she placed some large paintings of mine online and i finally got the nerve to ask her to take them off (she's sweetish but kind of uncomfortable). she still has a the image of another piece on her site however. but i dont want to ask for this to be taken off cos when i googled my name (!!), her gallery completely dominates in the search and i figure the harm's been done.

frankly i smell a thoroughly passive gallerist that has never made a fair, does not wish to pay the cost of going to one. frankly too, i sense (an image) of my work simply standing there: i dont see this lady, sweetly as she is, as an interested gallerist.

so there: i can't help wondering if this gallerist is 'bad' for what ever reputation one might have -or be in the process of having (sounds ridiculous, yes). i dont make art to sell (though if it does, thats quite ok by me, yes)


the question is, can a gallery based in ny, in chelsea be bad for an emerging artist? can such a gallery make a young artist seem like some desperado?

7/09/2008 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

the question is, can a gallery based in ny, in chelsea be bad for an emerging artist?

This isn't exactly what you're asking, but in order to get to the crux of your question, it's important to remember that any gallery, anywhere can be bad for any artist at any point in their career. Truly. The single most important factor in working with a commercial gallery is making sure they are a good match for your work, your goals, and your personality. Otherwise, you spend time doing things, worrying about things, fighting over things that take you away from making your work.

Now, with that baseline, let me say that so much depends here. It's not at all essential for a gallery to attend art fairs to do well by their artists. Mary Boone notoriously didn't participate art fairs (until very recently). So that in and of itself isn't a warning sign, per se.

I predict the prestige of art fairs will wane a bit for galleries moving forward anyway. She might be seen as visionary for avoiding them. Hard to tell at this point. Personally, I get off on the energy and camaraderie of art fairs, so I'm a bad judge.

Even what you sense as "passive" behavior may be a perfect match for certain artists, though. So much depends on your personal goals.

Not being totally transparent with you or honoring your wishes, however, is a warning sign. Also, not knowing well in advance what was going to be included in an exhibition suggests to me there was a lack of communication between the two of you. A gallery is not a space an artist rents from the dealer to do as they wish in. There should be agreement on what gets exhibited. That's not to say a dealer won't reach the point with their artists in which there's enough trust to turn the place over to them, but this was your first show, so I'm a bit surprised your gallerist "was not happy that [you] brought work she could 'not sell.'"

How was that your fault? Did you spring the work upon her? If so, then perhaps she was right to be unhappy. If not, she should have spoken up long before the show.

It's fine to show work you can't sell in a commercial gallery (we do it frequently...and sometimes on purpose), but it's not ok to hold it against the artist after the fact if you can't sell something you thought you could. Perhaps you can clarify what happened here.

7/09/2008 03:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"i dont make art to sell (though if it does, thats quite ok by me, yes)"

the commercial gallery dealer DOES show art to sell. why are you wasting her time? there are plenty of other places you can show. how did you end up in a chelsea commercial gallery in the first place? and why even move to ny? the only reason is to network and enter the market.

"frankly i smell a thoroughly passive gallerist that has never made a fair, does not wish to pay the cost of going to one. frankly too, i sense (an image) of my work simply standing there"

you want her to take you to a commercial ART FAIR, but you don't want her to promote your work that isn't work for sale?

do your gallerist a favor and stop jerking her around. she must really like your work, if i had a gallery you would be axed.

7/09/2008 05:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello mr winkleman,
you've answered my question (which really was how showing at an unengaged gallery would affect an artist.) thanks!


about your questions:

1.
no, this is not a case of someone boldly saying no to fair. i think anyone would enjoy a strong personality gallerist like that! i think too there is a clear difference between that and a gallerist who simply maintains a room and has no writer/critics or clients (and asks you to hand over names (which i sadly did not have) so he/she may approach them). an artist needs the support of an interested-just-as-hot-on-the-ideas sort of person, and if as a gallerist you say 50% of sales, you should at least try a bit more than have a white room! i think having reviews and nonprofit showings helps one as artist. sadly, reviewers hadly take notice of any gallerist not in their face about being an interested gallerist -expect they are showing a big name artist.
perhaps i'm wrong.

i mentioned art fairs because i think any kind of activity where people come together to really do what they do--in this case, dealers coming together (art fair) to sell--is a sexing-up sort of thing that could be challenging (and so rewarding) for the participants, yes. frankly i am split between artists' run centres and say a gallerist like zach feuer. so-called artist-runs are hardly run by artists but art administrators whose interest in art is didactic and administrative. whereas some commercial galleries are run by individuals mad enough to be mad about art, yes. so, if given the option of seeing a show at say zf or say location one, i would frankly be more interested in zf without thinking, and only on second thoughts location one where the art may not be interesting in form but only sometimes in content since often heavily doused in political messaging, yes. (of course this is not every commercial gallerist and not every artist-run/non-profit! -i was in short residency germany at a 'nonprofit artist-run' and it was really being run by artists!)


2.
no, i did not spring work on the gallery since images and work in progress were shown before hand. the gallerist expected handing over works (such as drawings) but not take the paintings for actual storage but will place online for internet sales.



as for the vehement responder -7/09/2008 05:01:00 PM: "why even move to ny?"

people are attracted to cities for reasons of ideas, meetings of minds; ny is frankly my favourite city! sadly there are i think too may new yorkers 'artists' with the market on their mind. they are proud to toil at 2, 3 full time jobs until they 'get a gallery' and get really upset others do not see life this way. (this is not the case in london i noticed, yes. but i wish to be in new york right now -may be not tomorrow).

no one is jerking any one around, no. you dont seem to read well but rather respond hastily.

"if i had a gallery you would be axed"
well, i am in karate myself! i will axed you good!

7/10/2008 12:01:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home