Friday, March 20, 2009

Baseline Issues for the "How to Get a Gallery" Question

Each time I discuss how artists can best go about getting a gallery, this issue comes up. In response to yesterday's post, Zipthwung wrote:
This whole discussion makes me want to vomit. Artists grovelling for shows? Where is their pride? Gallerists baiting artists into groveling for shows? The opportunity for abuse is obvious, and happens.
There are two baseline points I'd like to make about this before I address the abuse issue.

1. Not every artist needs or should even be affiliated with a commercial art gallery. The system works really well for some and not at all for others. Because many commercial art galleries are good at generating press for their artists and exist to place work in prominent collections, though, I think there is a somewhat misguided view among younger artists in particular about how essential getting into a gallery is for their careers. It can be, but there are plenty of artists with galleries (even very high-profile galleries) whose careers are no better off (in fact sometimes worse) than many artists without galleries that I know. The key is to find a gallery that's a good match for your art and aspirations, NOT to find any gallery at any cost to your pride or goals. If no gallery is well suited for you to work with, then find other means of pursuing your dreams.

2. The notion that dealers (or anyone in the industry with power) expects or wants artists to grovel is a misinterpretation of the harsh realities that a) what they really want from artists is for them to make the most compelling, important artwork of their generation. They want artists to awe them, inspire them, teach them, and uplift them. Believe me. When it's well understood that an artist is doing that, the industry is all too happy to grovel at their feet. For the legions of artists not yet doing that, well, the other harsh reality is that b) you have a phenomenal amount of competition.

The advice I offer, which directs artists to consider what they can do on an interpersonal level to get a leg up on their competition for the limited slots in the gallery system, is not at all meant to recommend "groveling." It is meant to suggest, though, that artists approach this with the same formal courtesies they would a job application/interview. If you were applying for a position on the faculty at an art school, I don't think calling up the dean who has never heard of you and insisting that she call you back when she has an opening would endear you to her.

So to recap: Galleries are not the magic ticket to stardom and riches...they are but one option in the spectrum of venues by which artists can exhibit their work and hopefully advance their careers. If that venue seems a good match for your goals, though, the single easiest way to get a gallery is to make artwork so compelling that dealers beat a path to your door. Full stop. When that's not working out for you, though, don't take it personally that you're only one of dozens, if not hundreds, of artists approaching the dealer who said he wasn't looking at the moment. He's trying to make things happen for the artists he's already representing, trying to pay the bills, trying to get that review, trying to get that curator to stop by, and in this current climate just trying to survive himself....

About the potential for abuse. It's real of course. To help arm artists against it though, I'll refer back to baseline issue #1. A gallery is not Valhalla. It's not as if, to realize your dreams, you simply must do whatever it takes to get into one.

At the positively packed Town Meeting at the X-Initiative last night (hat tip to Elizabeth Dee and Lindsay Pollock for providing that opportunity for the art world to air some of its anxieties about the current state of things), Superdealer Jeffrey Deitch mentioned the legendary Times Square Show and pointed to all the empty store fronts in Soho and encouraged the artists in the audience to produce exhibitions in them. He garnered the most enthusiastic applause of the evening.

My point is there are other options out there, many of which are totally in the hands of artists themselves. No one needs to submit to abuse. When it's clearly uncomfortable to pursue the opportunity to work with a gallery, stop and look elsewhere.

Labels:

48 Comments:

Anonymous Greg Minah said...

I appreciate this and other posts related to gallery representation. I agree with your advice about approaching galleries and I'm surprised at how brazen some artists have been. But from an artist's point of view, it's incredibly difficult to be both the creator and the marketer. Making the work (which seems to be overlooked sometimes in these discussions) takes everything one has (or it should) and when it's time to approach a gallery or email someone or put together a proposal or write a f*cking artist statement it just feels awkward and dirty somehow. For me, the creation of the work happens on such a different plane from that of marketing/galleries that it's nearly impossible to switch gears sometimes.
My advice for artists is to focus on the work. Give the work everything you have and then spend some time on the other stuff. Don't do them simultaneously or both outlets will suffer and you'll have crazy artists sleeping outside the Winkleman Gallery on a pile of bad work.

3/20/2009 09:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed, I want to reinforce something you've said in the past, and that's that it is important to build a context for your work - a way for a dealer to understand how you fit (or what boundaries you push). As you've mentioned before, group shows, slide registries, conversation with dealers and the artists they show are all ways to help that dealer understand and appreciate you and your work. Deitch's comment about empty store fronts is a great idea for someone with the energy. It's happening in Philadelphia too.

The group show/registry route is what worked for me, combined with research and networking. Nothing specific came from the latter two, but the knowledge I gained helped when it came time to have studio visits and talk about galleries and artists with a dealer. You are more likely to win the lottery than to get a gallery by a cold call.

And I think various people (Oly on the last post) have made the excellent point that not everyone is an NY artist. If you are in Idaho, making "Idaho" art, there's no reason to move to NY and try for a slot in Chelsea. Be the great Idaho artist of our time.

But mostly I see the increase of cold calls as desperation and self deception. It is hard hard HARD to develop the necessary social skills and to look at your work objectively, but that is what all of those cold callers must practice.

3/20/2009 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger Bromo Ivory said...

"Idaho" art? You slay me! (BTW, there are lots of artists whose art wouldn't be very salable through a gallery, not all located in Idaho.)

I suspect most of the artists pounding the pavement have the typical Yale/RISD/CalArts/etc. resume.

3/20/2009 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger pam farrell said...

Re: the final point of this post and Jeffrey Deitch's comment:
Philadelphia artists, led by Vince Romaniello, have formed a group called SAGE, and repurposed one of the vacant South Street retail store fronts that have been offered to artists for exhibit, installation, and the like. Once upon a time, South Street was an arts hotspot in Philly. Perhaps this DIY project will lead to further alternatives and opportunities for artists who are looking beyond the traditional gallery.

http://romanblog2.blogspot.com/2009/03/sage-projects-so-whats-next.html

http://sageset.blogspot.com/

3/20/2009 10:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And another suggestion: the aggressiveness normal in New York is scary to dealers elsewhere. Learn about your market and its norms.
ml

3/20/2009 11:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My two cents (from a middle aged artist with a gallery)... Artists - just keep working. It takes work. If you don't stop working you will find your place. If you stop to try to catch the moving train that is the gallery system, you will not catch it and it will break your arm. Your work is everything. A gallery that sees an artist who has worked hard enough will believe in their ability to continue to work hard. They will also believe that you have confidence in your work - regardless of their opinion. An artist's goal should be to make great work at eighty, not have a fancy opening at thirty five (or twenty three nowadays). Having or not having a gallery has broken too many of my peers. Those who just keep working, regardless of their gallery situation, do much better. They also make better work because - if you don't disrespect yourself, you can't be disrespected. I'm not saying it is not a dance. It is a dance. You do have to smile at the person you want to dance with. But people usually want to dance with the person having a great time not the one staring at them nervously... Like I said, this is just my two cents. There are obviously more than a few ways to go about things.

Obama made me proud today. Happy Nowruz... http://www.whitehouse.gov/Nowruz/

3/20/2009 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger jamie said...

it has been and always will be about the art. re: x-initiative. i have to say bravo for all those who stop talking and just 'make it happen'

3/20/2009 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

gosh, there are so many rules and social rituals in the small art world!

young artists come out of grad school overwhelmed by a debt they will never be able to pay...of course they are going to be pushy...they have knock on all doors.

I don't think it's ever going to stop Ed, so practice patience

3/20/2009 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

With over thirty years in the New York art scene, viewing things at ground level, (having over a dozen one-man shows) and knowing that Ed is attempting to put the best face possible on the situation I’ll simply add my two cents worth:

Anyone who wants to show in New York can show in New York. Vanity galleries are numerous, co-ops are plentiful. You can buy a show. (Starts around $10,000 give or take)

Dealers usually beat a path to the door where they hope to find money, no sin, galleries are not “social programs” for struggling artists.

Over their careers most artists are with several galleries, and some don’t even bother, and are able to scratch out a living through their own marketing, academia, or side jobs.

Most dealers aren’t in the business of making artists grovel, who’s got the time for that, though there are plenty of cases where dealers relationships are influenced by non-art factors (sex, drugs, and Rock and Roll).

Thinking that the “work” is going to speak for itself is a wholesome and nurturing (like eating your broccoli) idea, but without strong advocacy and an effort to make connections and partake in the life of the cultural community, your lost.

The art world is not utopia, and its members are not angels, it’s just like the rest of the world, with all the pluses and minuses, that’s what makes it beautiful.

3/20/2009 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Reality contradicts the myth of the social artist.

Many of the most amazing and ground breaking artists of the past were complete social a-holes.

There is no one kind of artist.

But maybe we have turned a corner. Now art can be backgrounded to the foregrounded personality of the socialized artist.

Because many artists make work on site by invitation.

No slides! Post Studio! No expensive store fronts to maintain! No insurance policies! No sitting at a desk waiting for "the public".

All this, and more shall come to pass....

I have an idea, why not rent the king's stable and have a Chippendale Hercules show his shit sculptures?

Yes yes add a zero too!

My check please.

3/20/2009 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Many of the most amazing and ground breaking artists of the past were complete social a-holes.

Perhaps, but it still behooves you to do things in that order...1) be amazing and ground-breaking and then 2) be as big an a-hole as you want. Where it doesn't work out so well, with regards to getting anyone else to care, is the other way around

3/20/2009 03:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

Wow, it's "ok" now to exhibit on your own? I thought that was a bad idea?

Anywhos, Deitch is just repeating what he has said so many years ago, and I very much agree as always. If you assume logistics, you are pretty much free to do whatever you want.

In Canada, artists are lucky, because art centres actually ask you to send them portfolios. And artists are encouraged to conceive of art as "exhibition proposals" (which is where I come from), and that's very different from your average "body of work" or
"series" artists that you find in much of Chelsea.

I still resists the art centres system somehow, because I can't be bothered by "cliques". But cliques change every 5 years, so there is always a chance for you, young artist, to jump right into the next. Just remember that then you will have only 5 years to make people remember you for good, otherwise you're out (at least for 10 years, until people have forgotten and you can try a second time).


Cedric Caspesyan

3/20/2009 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger eageageag said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/20/2009 03:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

++what about ground breaking?

They mean Urs Fischer diggin a hole at Gavin Brown, or Doris Salcedo smashing the Tate Modern (Shibboleth). That type of stuff.




Cedric Casp

3/20/2009 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

So many people try to be ground breaking by being an early adopter of technology (Like modern day Muybridges).

But Muybridge was well funded - in the art world there is a bias against such vulgar displays of institutional power wielded as if from a single bolt thrower.

No, it is preferable to have a humble artists, coming from limited means, to produce something amazing (from thin air even).

This myth of the individual artist is so well worn it has a life of its own!

Would be Svengalis beware lest you be 'naired in its thicket of lies!

This illusion of rugged individualism should trouble the true artist very little - the truth is more interesting.

Did you know that Ezra Pound edited T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland?"

You do the math.

3/20/2009 04:43:00 PM  
Blogger timquinn said...

Would it be tautological to say that "ground-breaking" is inherently undefinable?

3/20/2009 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

No, it is preferable to have a humble artists, coming from limited means, to produce something amazing (from thin air even).

This myth of the individual artist is so well worn it has a life of its own!


now, now...mixing in class issues when the question is one of talent...not very honest of you.

Any artist, from any background, can be a world-class asshole and still enjoy the entire industry grovelling at his/her feet (something I get a sense you see as your birthright here) so long, and this is the inescapable part of it, he or she is clearly talented and worthy of attention.

You can't assert the right to be an asshole without the talent and still expect anyone to give a damn.

3/20/2009 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger Bromo Ivory said...

I think the "amazing and groundbreaking" would be if you are the next ((insert name of famous artist whose works hang in major museums, sell for millions and whose name is ubiquitous)). And it helps that you already ARE that famous/successful.

Then you can probably treat any gallery or person like crap and still be shown and your "odious personality" will be tolerated.

Otherwise it probably pays to be respectful. Well it probably pays to be that way anyway, but you can get away with not being respectful if you produce.

3/20/2009 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger Bromo Ivory said...

I wonder how much "track record" feeds into the ability to be a jerk and still have a successful career?

Meaning if you are filled with potential, and have some amazing work, but limited shows and sales ... and under the right set of circumstances, *could be* an amazing recognized talent, WOULD you if you were a jerk all the time and to everyone?

(And again ... why would you? What would you have to gain by it?)

3/20/2009 05:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

Most artists I really admire, in any field, seems to be good people (I've arranged to meet a couple of them).

Sometimes you get the surprise of meeting someone really outright nasty, and their art never really
announced that. You just have to accept that art is an illusion, it's not connected with anything real. It's just showbusiness.


The famous people: they're busy. They work hard. Even Paris Hilton. I don't get why they care so much.
They're also intimidating because sometimes, they're brilliant, or they have a huge go-getting charisma that reveals right away why they are so successful.
But fame is a big drug for them: they actually want fans and all the love.


In the artworld, the snottism is more intellectual than anything else. Rare are the artworld people who have a clue what it is to hang around the really famous (famous being relative, hardly any living visual artist is truly famous). Many visual artists seems to just want a few rich collectors. Or some intellectual recognition by about 10 art writers. They don't give a damn what people think.
They expect the mass to catch up with history if their name ends in the books.


Most forms of art involve selling to the most people possible, when on the contrary visual
artists are trying to sell the highest possible to the fewest possible. I'm not interested by
that paradigm. Visual artists like Christo, able to make work of mass reach, are very very rare.


Cedric Caspesyan

3/20/2009 07:49:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Hering said...

eageageag, I'll give your question a shot. "Groundbreaking" means there is something about a work of art that hasn't been done before - though there are degrees of groundbreaking (from completely new to new in one way only). "Amazing" means that - upon seeing it - the work stops you in your tracks, and later persists in your memory.

3/20/2009 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Caught me. Class issues. But I don't think you can separate the artist from the social network - the steroidal one of the hyper-professionalized - and the other one, where artists are specialists - savants - autistic spectrum dweebs, mentally tortured irrationalists (there is a market for them apparently) - all of whom rely on others to do their marketing and logistics.

Absent minded professor types.

Few emerging artists have the luxury of an assistant, and fewer still are very good at writing, documenting and interfacing with the public.

Those that are good at all the facets of art business - tend to make institutional art - PUBLIC SCULPTURE or MUSEUM READY work - hardly the personalized ideal of work from the early avant guard.
The avanat guard, site of resistance against the mainstream hegemony.

In short, artists who are good at business tend to be mainstream (i.e. not avant guard)

Would Pollock have made his splatter paintings without the desire for and reconition he received?

How many artists today are as dysfunctional as he? Would today's artworld support such a monster?

woudl be Peggy guggenheims are far to knowing?

No, there have been and will continue to be instances of artistic dysfunction (Jason Rhoades, who died horribly in a pool of vomit)

Dolla dolla bill y'all.

I do indeed have class issues. But I keep them in a jar beside my bed.

3/20/2009 09:00:00 PM  
Blogger Jay Erker said...

Anonymous (from a middle aged artist with a gallery): Thank you for your post. Your two cents is priceless.

3/20/2009 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger eageageag said...

Thanks Tom Hering.

3/20/2009 10:44:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

Greg Minah says, "It's incredibly difficult to be both the creator and the marketer"

Yes, it is. You're also the janitor, the secretary, the packer and shipper, accounts payable and receivable, the PR department, and research and development. When you get into a gallery (or, better, when you create a network of galleries for yourself) they will do much of that for you, but until that happens, if you want it done, you're going to have to do it yourself.

One of the reasons we don't talk so much about the art when these issues come up, is because that is a given. The art comes first. But it has to be followed by some sort of advocacy if you want to get it into the world.

3/21/2009 12:53:00 AM  
Blogger CAP said...

In my experience 'new' work never strikes anyone as jaw-droppingly awesome or unbelievably new right off. That's actually a retrospective judgement, once enough people have got on board. Usually the work is deeply annoying to a lot, intriguing or just plain baffling to some, and reassuringly orthodox to a few.

No-one has a eureka moment at the coalface, it's just too close to call.

As an art historian I've looked into this myth many times. Even Michelangelo was deeply unpopular with the populace for the first hundred years or so. No one really knew if it was actually really good or really bad, until other artist's starting riffing on it. 'New' things take a long time to be accepted, as new.

I think galleries waiting around to be gob-smacked by unbelieveable genius type-artists, generally settle for slickness and connections.

I think it's better to go with a degree of muddle, of hunches and hopes. You look around, compare contrast and mostly wait. People change faster than works.

3/21/2009 03:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am another middle aged artist with a gallery, i didnt get this gallery until i was about 40. i worked and worked and worked and worked not caring what anyone thought about what i did, had a day job to support myself, and kept on working finally, i got what i was holding out for, the right situation at the right gallery for me, i did not settle for what i did not want. i never felt entitled to a career, never went to grad school, hardly socialized, almost never partied late at night, but just stayed in the studio and made paintings, because ultimately that is what i like to do more than anything. that is the thing that interests me most, so it happened through the work and the work alone, yes i had to have studio visits and put myself out there to get it a bit, but i never lost sight of who i am, and yes there were hard years, when i felt nothing was ever going to happen to me, but i still liked painting more than anything so it was all ok.

3/21/2009 05:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

check out the David Robbins video on Artnet, it's the opposite of this conversation

PV

3/21/2009 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Anon, You speak with a tone of inevitability, like your career was laid out in manifest destiny.

I feel the same way. Nothing is goignt o bring me down - even failure is a triumph.

No one talks about failure because it doesn't happen, unless it's kidney or liver failure. Then it's just the sad coda on a triumphant life.

But you almost never partied? I find this quite extraordinary (I find I am unable to go out (even to see art) due to lack of funds - in a city (New York) where no one seems to stay in).

On the plus side I seem to be making the best work of my life. Positively astounding - possibly groundbreaking, though that is hardly for me to decide.

3/21/2009 04:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me be another middle aged artist who joined a gallery later in life to make a comment. I didn't find a gallery until I moved to a different city. While NY is and will remain - at least for my lifetime, the art center of the world, it has blinders and prejudices. That's not really a negative judgment, just a fact. So if you really really want a gallery yet aren't getting any traction in NY, consider relocating.

It is much much easier to produce art outside of New York.

3/21/2009 05:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Claudia Waters said...

Dear Mr. Winkleman,
I really like what you've said suggesting that artists make the most compelling and awe inspiring art they are capable of. I agree. The rest is history.
Sincerely,
Claudia Waters

3/21/2009 08:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find this state of gallery getting shocking. Who are these people?

I am emerging. I don't have a gallery yet - I want one but jeez. Patience is a virtue.
I make as much work as possible and keep art world active - it's my job I like to think (that and pouring you a pint). As I am now in my early 30's the people I have met - via a life in art - are doing things. Despite the fact that I have not yet found known gallery representation I am doing two solo shows this year in galleries I am very proud to show in. They are both "emerging galleries". I am showing there because I have built up a peer audience by participating - and by making good work. It means more to me than anything to be recognized and appreciated artistically to these people and the result will be one of two things:
1. these shows (also online efforts and various new publications) will draw the attention of galleries who might just APPROACH ME!! or
2. with time my generation and the people I am currently working with WILL BE "THE" ART WORLD!! and whoop! I am already in. (...they will also be the reviewers, publishers and buyers)

If you make good work your peer group will be the first on your side. This is particularly accessible in this day of interwebs. If you can't gain attention and critique for what you do by either or both the other emerging artists in your city and/or the online community --- you have no hope. It seems obvious to me that it is a snowball effect. Any gallery worth being represented by is (must be?) paying at least some attention to the more DIY and online efforts.
I think the gallery/dealer I will some day start a "relationship" with will find each other. Star crossed lovers I am sure.

Dealers should probably be nastier to these people. Tough love.

3/21/2009 10:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

+++If you can't gain attention and +++critique for what you do by +++either or both the other +++emerging artists you have no hope


I don't agree. Some art (my definition of groundbreaking) is not bothered by pleasing to the artworld or art critics.
I'm thinking of the technological art you find in some of these events like Isea, Ars Electronica, etc.. There is always something groundbreaking in these events, whereas in standard visual arts, you mostly have people pushing the boundaries of already long-established fields of research (post-conceptualism,
much obsessed by the paradigms of museal representation, with its quantity of mockings on the apparatus and clichés of institutionalized art (the framing, the pedestal, the luster, the chic, the grandeur, etc...).


To reply to Zipthwung: my take is that art is always a failure. It is always bound and subjugated
to other fields like technology, philosophy, and architecture. We're always trying to do the best
of what can be achieved with what's out there, the universe, but in the end the real mysteries
always elude us.


My personal hope is to live healthy. For the time being, I still find life enjoyable.
Making art is for me a passion, a pastime, and a conversation with God (or, pseudo-god, the possibility that it hears me). I am much more trying to please (or ease) the dead than the living. Someday I will catch up, hopefully.

Cedric Caspesyan

3/22/2009 08:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

About failure:

I once had a quarrell with a well-known performance artist in Canada.
I was asking X if they think that at some level ethics always surpecede artistic endeavours. X replied that there is no subject or anything in the world that cannot be communicated by art. I was from the opposite view that art is an uneffective communicator because it's always putting the spotlight on itself foremostly, before attempting to communicate anything. If I say "I love you" to someone, or write a poem about my love to be published in a journal,
there is something very strange happening there about
the ethics and value of this love (Barthes, mind you, would
consider any situation involving desire as unethical).

If you meet someone very poor in the streest of India, there is the ethic of giving them some food to eat, and the art of doing a film about this person's poverty. We are used to acclaim attempts at the latter, while the people who simply give food (work in humanitarian missions) are most often forgotten (unless they are artists, like Bono, who would argue that his art is ethic in the sense that his success permits his humanitarian actions, but...).



Cheers,

Cedric Caspesyan

3/22/2009 09:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

Ooops, it should be "sexual" desire, not desire in the broader term, though the human condition makes it impossible to be entirely ethic (DAIR: Desire Always Involves Rejection). Ethic is an utopia that is ever morally-shifting by consensual values.

What was the topic again? lol.
Yes... Make compelling art, but don't take yourself too seriously.
If your goal is to be rich and famous, assume that goal. You will become rich and famous more easily by focussing on this idea than on making compelling art. Compelling art is not necessarely successful. Those are very different things.

Cedric Casp

3/22/2009 10:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what I find curious if not astonishing is how someone like "zipthwung"--whoever he or she is--survives/lives in new york.

when i was in new york, i met with what must be referred to as dreary mercantile expectations--nothing of the sort of spirit that "zipthwung"'s contributions here point to-

there was pervasive in new york the self same protestant calvinist aims you find in staid smaller cities (like boston or toronto, both bland waspish cities capable of rendering everything into an insipid pallid utilitarian sameness)---as if the (bogus) 'success' of the clinton days mixed with the insular paranoia of the illiterate bush years--along side the protestant calvinist milieu--had all at once set upon new york a safe, watchful mercantile mindset the sort of which kills the spirit.

(imagine what a sumptuous beautifully failed incredible city new york would have had it had catholic origins--yes, origins of that particular sort do have their particular sway: f s fitzgerald's life is (the lyrical) failure it is because he was catholic--like saul bellow says. had he been protestant, he'd have been smugly successful perhaps with his own talk show called 'trivial rich american life you're surprised to find real emotions' by no other than the novelist, f s fitzgerald!

well, to continue, when i was in ny, people would ask if i had gallery representation and once i said no, you could literarily watch their face closing in. after reading this blog intermittently over the months, i've come to see this same (frankly smug-sounding) assertions of how the artist must shape herself to the ways of the artworld...(of course the blogger is an art DEALER. one must always remember this --but wasn't it these DEALER types we're told took painters no one could stand under their wings? --oh, i forget, those were RICH dealers. all right. pardon)

of course the assertions here are no different from the tyranny of curators who don't question why they are engaged with art other than having a degree in curating! (can you imagine this: a degree in curating --as if they were going out to curate in a church or something! you ought to have a hot degree in art history, philosophy and literature BEFORE you start shouting about what is the what of something to madly, so intricately LINKED with our evolution --and even then, you're still not quite able!!

alright, not to overexcite myself. it seems it's the heart that causes winkleman to tell here whatever it is indeed his industry thinks and expects. so when i skimmed through the tedious 'appreciative' replies , i understand the sentimentality out there.


for a world cities surely new york should have more 'aesthetic' diversity. the aesthetic life of ideas should strive especially in a great city like new york, a city i believe the spirit can be fresh, should be a real, be wild, be risky BEYOND MONEY.

perhaps it's the real estate killing people? it's certainly high and everyone's out for the buck just to pay the rent (whenever i very nearly kill myself for not living in ny, i'm reminded of how difficult it was summer of 08 not just meeting with the increasing lack of spirit but very much with lack of space--this of course makes me a coward of course because people expect everyone to be able to hustle the hustle...ah, new york, still my favourite city in the whole wide world).

!SALUTE

3/22/2009 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

jamie's advice is good. (psst, jamie, bangs are good)

If your goal is to be rich, buy a lottery ticket every day until you win.

Compelling art is gift, lies beyond design, and is always successful.

In hard economic times, the best thing you can do is to party while you have time. You can't sell anything, so why worry about making something to sell? Party in the studio, risk failure, it's always closer than you think.

The myth of the individual artist is what it is all about. There can be artists who are a world-class asshole, but just a few. You can't fake your own myth, unless that's the myth.

FWIW, I think we are in the trough of this recession, it's not going to be as bad as many currently think. But even if I'm wrong, it will last only a few years, we will get through it and the art world will still be there.

It's time to party while we're free.

3/22/2009 01:43:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Anon 1:43, Clarify for me what you mean by "there was pervasive in new york the self same protestant calvinist aims"

I also wonder is some of your experience isn't colored by your own expectations?

from the tyranny of curators who don't question why they are engaged with art other than having a degree in curating!

Ah yes, but they did bother to get a degree in curating (is there such a thing?) just like an artist with a MFA, that doesn't make them artists either but everyone has to start somewhere.

3/22/2009 02:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

I understand the struggle to survive. I just saw a great french documentary about James Brown (Montreal Fifa), and this guy, basically he was so fed up with poverty he did everything to have success. He really thought "I'm going to be the motherfucking best in the world" and eureka because that was it.

So it's not a given that when your interest is mercantilism, you don't create great things. There is absolutely no equation in that.

But mercantilism does shape the type and range of products that you get. Compare John Cage with James Brown. John Cage didn't seem to seek money and fame. His production was very intellectual. Maybe he was already rich? Maybe the funds or the low cost of life in New York in the 50's and 60's permitted the sort of events that Fluxus would unfold? (for a moment
it was clear that Fluxus artists didn't care at all to sell products).


SALUTE seems to argue that only people with money can do Fluxus.
I'm not sure. Some of Fluxus had rich parents, but some I think really participated because they didn't have to fear not being able to pay their rent. Being rich is not about how much money you have, it's about the freedom you get to do what you want with your life, because your material needs (whatever they are) are covered. Hence right now, it's possible that great art emerge from cities where life is more easy.
I really believe that New York or London will face this fact in less than 20 years.


Cedric Casp

3/23/2009 07:36:00 AM  
Anonymous the cinemascapist said...

my 2¢... Top two issues in my book that have made my gallery relationships "work" (work= happy, productive, stress-free) thus far in my teenie tiny career.

I got a jumpstart by making a few sales to a few well-known collectors without representation and without ever having a show. That was the confidence boost I needed to whip out a bunch of unsolicited emails to galleries I had interest in.

Living in the remote woods, and not being part of the big city social networks, my biggest priority was finding a gallery where the personal relationship between artist/dealer would be down to earth. All emerging artist are going to make mistakes, have to learn the way things work, and possibly be annoying to the dealer with retarded questions from time to time. Which is why I sent unsolicited emails that were bullshit-free and didn't sound scripted. Basically saying how the hell are you...I'd love to hang my art on your walls and sell work together.

If the gallery took themselves too seriously or their booty was clenched too tight, I would know by lack of response. But the typical response was a good chuckle and an invite to meet (which has led to one representation and numerous connections to dealers that I keep in contact with for now). This theory probably goes both ways. I'm sure the dealer knows how often they will have to talk and meet with their artist and an approach from an artist that doesn't include the routine statement/cv/portfolio and all the straight-collar conduct that goes with that, is probably a nice change once in a while.

Unless you're really not funny and you don't have much of a sense of humor, you should stick to the cliff notes on approaching a gallery in a more formal fashion.

Oh, and second biggest criteria is that the gallery likes your work. I mean REALLY likes your work. I like to hear at least a few minutes of no BS talk about how they enjoy the work. This helps me know that if they don't make any sales, at least you know the collector/critic/curator will get a good earful of why the work is hanging on the wall in the first place.

3/23/2009 10:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Bill said...

I'm getting in to this thread pretty late... several people have posted with comments about failure. This reminded me of something I read in a book or magazine - I can't remember who said it:

"Success is just the flip side of failure. Finding out what doesn't work is a key to lasting success. Achievement is a lifelong process, not a final destination."

3/23/2009 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger ewallartist said...

Mr. Winkleman,
I have been reading your blog weekly from Sweden for about a year now and am very impressed with the information that you are sharing with all us artist out there. But one thing that I can't seem to find an answer to in an newer or older post is "How to do your homework" ie. I would love to know more about "X" gallery, but how. Is it appropriate to tell the gallery that I am doing research to find a possible fit for my work, and express that I am not soliciting them as we speak, but really doing my homework. What type of information would most galleries share, beyond a list of artist. Would they share info about artist stipends, how they market, what role the artist plays in their gallery etc.
Maybe you have a post, that I did not find,or could address this if you find it relevant. Thank you.
Eric Wall

3/24/2009 05:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cedric Casp 3/23/2009 07:36:00 AM wrote SALUTE seems to argue that only people with money can do Fluxus.


that was not at all what i meant, no, not at all. in fact the very opposite: meaning MONEY ought not to be a factor --for artist. Or dealer.

bloodyhell, did you ever missed the point!

3/24/2009 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger chris billington said...

What a fascinating topic

3/25/2009 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger Carlin said...

I experience this in the fashion world as well....

"They want artists to awe them (wow them with product), inspire them (communicate a vision for the concept that makes sense and can relate ultimately to the target consumer), teach them (narrate a story about the vision and how it relates to sales), and uplift them (get them excited that they will have a fantastic sell through and stand out in the marketplace by buying your product for their stores). Believe me. When it's well understood that an artist is doing that, the industry is all too happy to grovel at their feet."

That's my interpretation.... and I think too often that designers, artists, creatives (of which I am as well) forget to make things make sense to the target audience. We want to be understood without reciprocating understanding.

Love your blogs, btw. I just found your stuff today and find it inspirational helpful!

3/27/2009 07:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog. I am an artist from the UK but find it fascinating.
I would like to link it to my blog - how do I do that?

3/29/2009 05:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pollock came from Nebraska, so does that mean he made "Nebraska Art"??? and Rauschenberg came from Loisiana. In fact his "Combines" have as much to do with Southern traditions of yard art,quilting and works of revelation as they do with any interpretation that fits into the NYC (Yankee) artworld narrative. Actually, the NY scene was alot more interesting when it was full of artists coming in from the wilds, rather than self-consciously cultivated by artschools in NYC. I don't know about "groundbreaking", but perhaps not utterly derivative and self-referential to get attention would be nice. Sure it's about the work but part of working is giving a shit about something other than getting attention and figuring out what you actually have to say. Pollock's drip painting were as much about finding a meta pattern within entropy, and interconnection as they were about the rhetoric of Ab-Ex. IOW's part of his intention was spiritual, but that being such a dirty word in Mosernism...no wonder the dude drank.

4/02/2009 01:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Rebecca Harp said...

Thank you tremendously for this post. I actually found it very encouraging for my rather recent mode of thinking. As an artist, I had been finding it difficult to get into a gallery, thinking that it was the magic ticket. But then I realized the ramifications, and that it is more about choosing the appropriate venue so that you can happily continue painting the things you want to paint. And perhaps that is not with a gallery (though I am in a couple now). Not only do I find it intimidating to enter a gallery and wonder what people interested in buying art must feel as well, gallery promotion is not necessarily the ticket. And if someone is passionate about what they do, for what do they need a ticket? Survival, okay, but many people simply survive without a personal passion. I have recently decided to think that I might not sell anything for the next year or two, as if someone sent me a letter stating this as fact. Surprisingly, I have been painting more vigorously and truly than ever before. A very welcome realization that I am finding solace and happiness in painting, something which you might forget when you get wrapped up in the joy of selling and making money.

6/20/2009 12:33:00 PM  

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