Thursday, March 21, 2013

Saving the Endangered True Believers

As we walked from the gallery last night, Murat pointed out a thread connecting a series of conversations we've had with collectors, critics, dealers, and artists over the past few months. There's been plenty of chatter about the squeeze on the middle tier of the art market / art world lately, but he said, and it struck me the way only something undeniable and right before your nose the whole time can, that up and down the entire system, current trends are profoundly discouraging that class of people we consider to be in the art world "for the right reasons": the true believers. And thinking about what the art world might look like without those people, should they become so disillusioned they leave it altogether, made me shudder.

Of course, there has been a wide-range of very high-profile and public defections / distancings from the art world lately. Collectors, journalists/thinkers, critics, etc., have all announced how "vulgar" or "nasty" or "filthy" it's all become. And they're not talking about the art the way reactionary defenders of the Academy had about those uncouth upstarts, the Impressionists. They're talking about the way the system has been co-opted and is now in many ways dominated by people who seem to not actually like or care about art for its own sake.

Whether these defectors ever qualified as "true believers" is of course debatable, but two troubling private conversations we've had in the past two weeks undoubtedly were with people we know got into this world out of a deep and personal respect and passion for art. 

One was with one of the nation's top art critics, who expressed dismay at the lack of significant work among all the objects he sees in the galleries these days and a lack of significant direction from the top-selling artists. It upset me for days to hear him say this. Not (only) because that could indict our gallery as well, mind you, but because how discouraged he is simply must influence how he responds in his writings overall. His records of the art world we live and breathe today will stand among the most important testaments to our time of any being written. I want him (at least enough to become less focused on the things that don't inspire him) to be deliriously enthralled with what he sees that does, so that that joy and passion will then be reflected in his reviews. Why? Because I want to work in an industry in which that still remains possible, if not exactly common.

The other conversation was with a European collector who I am continually amazed by. We see him at every art fair on the global calendar. Literally, no matter how new or experimental the event (especially if it's new or experimental), he's there supporting the galleries and seeking out new artists. He must be able to travel via teleportation. Every time we see him, he's seriously looking at and considering new art. Every time we discuss art with him, he does so with such an open mind and obvious love for doing so, he inspires me again and again. He's the textbook example of a "true believer" collector. And yet, lately, he too has voiced deep disappointment with how the art world is evolving. His response to these trends is a bit more encouraging, though, in that he's not the sort of person to let others ruin something he likes. Not without a fight, anyway.

I'm talking about Alain Servais, whose views are widely known via his email newsletters, Art News Digest,  which he regularly sends a wide group of people around the world. (I blogged on one of his texts a few months ago.) 

His most recent newsletter, though, took the form of a call for change. Here's the money quote:
i would like to develop for you the idea of “resistance” ecosystem .... this idea of resistance came to me while watching documentaries about resistance during WWII in France. i was reminded or i learned how imaginative people had to be to survive the German occupancy but also how it worked only by the overcoming of differences in ideologies, social status, religious convictions, sex, etc.
and as an analogy i think that the current dominance of the 1% of 1% can last a while and therefore the current art market condition. 
in consequence now is the time for those not happy with this situation to regroup and hold positions in order to survive what could be a long winter.
In this Art News Digest, Alain attached the slide deck (titled "Challenging the Big Brand galleries : Towards an ecosystem of resistance ?") from a panel he was on at this year's ARCO art fair in Madrid with The Art Newspaper's Georgina Adams. It outlines a series of initiatives that he recommends trying at least to help curb, as he so perfectly puts it, "the aggressive developments of Mega-galleries serving the Mega-buyers and the awkward positions of small and mid-size participants because what could have appeared as a waterfall which could benefit the whole art world pyramid stays now confined to the very top."

Now it's not clear to me still whether Alain feels the bigger galleries are victims of a system that has run amok or the perpetrators of that running amok (I would guess it's a little of both, depending on the specific galleries), but it is clear that their recent actions are continually turning true believers away from the art world. 

The hope to be found via Alain's resistance formula is captured in this quote from the deck: "all is not lost if you can still « look, listen and understand»." 

Among his specific suggestions for change are:

1. Professionalization

It's no secret that many people who open art galleries do so out of a passion for art but are ill-prepared for the competitive way the business has evolved. Alain outlines the main problem here via a quote from the text "The Spanish Art Market in 2012" by Clare McAndrew:
“Dealing art has become an increasingly stressful profession over the last ten years -no matter how many fairs you attend, you still feel like you are not doing enough. You might have more successful sales, but there’s also much more competition, and collectors have many more options. Many Spanish collectors will now buy at a fair, even if a gallery in Spain has the same artist 15 years ago, you could wait for people to come into the gallery, you had time to meet with artists and visit studios - now there is no time and it has become all about commerce. There is a lot more stress in our professional lives.”
He recommends the following approaches to gallery professionalization (and remember, his audience is global):
  • Definition of the gallery space as a « forum », place of events, exchanges, talks : « The Public School » could be a model.
  • Better use of IT and internet : catalogues online, onlines sales (; 1stdibs;, etc.)
  • Languages : English for better or worst is « lingua franca ». It should be fluent.
  • Opening hours : take into account actual leisure time of working people + « clusters » could open on Sundays if a demand (e.g., Lower East Side) 
  • Gallerists' program @ de Appel in Amsterdam
  • Communication (no bulk emailing but more targeted): museum acquisition, exhibitions
  • Crowdfunding : ex: Italian Pavilion turns to “crowdfunding” to raise
2. Cooperation across the « fences » 
Here, Alain discusses five "fences" that currently hamper the growth of the emerging and middle tiers of the art world and suggests how better cooperation between them can propel the resistance to the unacceptable status quo. These fences are those:
  • Between galleries and artist
  • Between gallerists
  • Between galleries and public authorities
  • Between gallerist and collectors 
  • Between media, critics, collectors, institutions and artists

Between galleries and artist
Alain argues that the increasingly aggressive nature by which galleries are seeking to grow by poaching "Very Bankable Artists" from smaller galleries is ultimately counterproductive across the entire system (especially if it drives away the true believers). The main task in solving this has to be the securing of the essential relationship between the gallerist and the artist. This can be done via contracts with mutual agreements, but it can also be done by adopting some of the best practices from other fields in which individuals (i.e., artists) regularly transfer between organizations (i.e., in this case, galleries).

One very interesting idea Alain recommends here comes from the "Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players by FIFA" (the Fédération Internationale de Football Association):
Article 20 Training compensation
Training compensation shall be paid to a player’s training club(s): (1)when a player signs his fi rst contract as a professional and (2) each time a professional is transferred until the end of the season of his 23rd birthday. The obligation to pay training compensation arises whether the transfer takes place during or at the end of the player’s contract. The provisions concerning training compensation are set out in Annexe 4 of these regulations.

Article 21 Solidarity mechanism
If a professional is transferred before the expiry of his contract, any club that has contributed to his education and training shall receive a proportion of the compensation paid to his former club (solidarity contribution). The provisions concerning solidarity contributions are set out in Annexe 5 of these regulations.  
If galleries implemented a similarly mutually beneficial practice, the consequences for a smaller gallery of losing an artist to a bigger gallery could be less severe. Of course, this requires the larger galleries to recognize the importance of not crippling the system of smaller galleries, and clearly a few of them out there at the moment show no sign of caring about that. But they too shall pass into the pages of history, and Alain has recommendations for the up and coming galleries on how to build a better gallery system that can correct the current lack of foresight. 

Between Galleries
The ideas Alain champions here have mostly been tried in various forms over the years, with various rates of success. The essence of each of these ideas is for smaller galleries to pool their strengths, essentially simulating the larger galleries' ability to promote artists internationally, as a means of resisting the larger galleries' ability to lure their artists away. These ideas include 1) locating galleries in neighborhood clusters (which is fairly typical in New York, but perhaps not so much in other locations) as a means of replicating the art fair experience and 2) gallery exchanges (either between groups of galleries in different cities or between individual galleries with overlapping visions). 

Although the deck doesn't outline this idea specifically, Alain's ideas here did make me wonder how smaller galleries might repel poaching by formulating and discussing openly with their artists a system of worldwide exhibitions with "sister" galleries. Systematic cross-gallery collaboration on this level, reaching even into a coordination of which fairs the galleries with the same artists bring them to, always with an eye on keeping the poachers away, could help artists still reach their career goals without having to jump ship from their smaller galleries. 

Between galleries and public authorities
The examples Alain provides for how galleries can better collaborate with public authorities include

  • Latitude: Platform for Brazilian Galleries Abroad 
The Project of Internationalization of Brazilian Contemporary Art Galleries was started in 2007 with the core goal of creating business opportunities for the art sector mainly through cultural promotion activities. During this period, the number of member increased. Currently, 54 primary market art galleries participate in Latitude, representing more than 1000 artists.
Since 2011, Latitude is a partnership between ABACT (Brazilian Association of Contemporary Art) and ApexBrasil (Brazilian Agency for the Promotion of Exports and Investments).
  • Kunstkoop (hope you read Dutch) : credit buying for works of art under the price of 7000 euros

    From what I can tell from the Google translation, this program assists people who would otherwise not be able to afford to purchase art do so with interest-free loans.
  • BAM international visitors' program:Since 2005, BAM organises an international visitors programme for the visual, audiovisual and media arts in Belgium. The programme includes invitations to about ten to fifteen curators per year. The aim of this programme is to (further) introduce international professionals to contemporary visual art in Belgium. Through these visits we also hope to strengthen the position of Belgian art and artists abroad.
Between gallerist and collectors 
OKso first of all, this is one of the reasons I consider Alain a "true believer." He makes sure he considers his own role as a collector in resisting the way the market has evolved. In a nutshell, he insists "collectors should make the effort to support “resistance” galleries and institutions." He correctly identifies that one of the main things Mega-galleries do to lure artists away is offer the artists financing of future projects. This is something collectors could help smaller galleries do for their artists. As he notes, "it must be done with a common interest and mutual advantages," of course, but this is one concrete thing collectors who are not happy with the current way things are can help change them.

Keeping in mind that the relationship between a commercial art gallery and a collector who will support it needs to be mutually beneficial, Alain shares a letter he received from a gallery that provides a good example of one way galleries, who are closest to an artist's market, can give back to collectors who have supported them, as well as to encourage the collector to participate with the gallery on carefully building the artist's market:
Dear Alain, 
I hope you are well.

Remembering your interest in {Artist X}, and in case you were not already aware, there is a special {artwork by Artist X} that is coming up tomorrow morning at Christie’s.

The estimated is 50,000 to 70,000 GBP ($79,300 - $110,200). Generally speaking, we would estimate the price should be more in line with the low end of this estimate. We were happy to learn that the reserve has been lowered to be more in line with current retail prices for {Artist X's work}, and therefore an opportunity to acquire an early significant {piece}. It clearly stands out as a fantastic {piece with.....} is so signature of his practice.

We’re always happy to let you know about this kind of opportunity, and certainly want you to have our opinion and advice about the price.
This level of service is something larger galleries know to provide that smaller ones may not. Collectors can also help smaller galleries by sharing with them the types of things the larger galleries do to win them over. 

Between media, critics, collectors, institutions and artists
In this portion of his presentation, Alain compares the type of art news stories covered by two major outlets. One has in-depth reviews about important artists by serious critics. The other has TMZ-style headlines and easily consumable "Top 10"-style stories clearly crafted to seek the rock bottom of the lowest common denominator. I'll refrain from naming the publications, but I do believe Alain is correct that this tabloidization in the arts press is contributing to the problem

Ultimately, as I've said many times, the players with the most power to change things are the artists. It may have seemed clever a while back to a few major artists to comment on the art market by essentially exploiting it. It certainly made a few of them extremely wealthy. But when the major critic I discussed above says he sees nothing of major significance in the galleries, the group that ultimately indicts are indeed the people creating and putting that work out there. 

There are artists out there making work worthy of the true believers. But for them to help change how soul-crushing the system has become to many, how  "vulgar" or "nasty" or "filthy" and therefore how unappealing to the true believers, those artists need to help stop the seemingly endless numbers of artists who aspire to emulate the multi-millionaire artists dominating the market today and show the world something more important than clever observations of how superficial we've all become. They need to look deeper at humankind and themselves...and to look away from the cynicism-fueled influences that get all the press and attention these days....and become the new influentials. The new leaders for the next generation of artists.

Most of all, they need to not take for granted that the true believers who have supported the art world for all the right reasons will continue to do so if artists don't start taking control and making the vulgar way the market is operating today look unappealing to those who see it only as a mean of buying social credibility, without even caring about the objects they're using toward that end. 

You know how to do this. Don't underestimate what's at stake if you don't. 

Get to it.


Blogger Ben Stansfield said...

Edward, can you provide a link to Alain's Art News Digest?
I've Googled it six ways from Sunday, can't find it anywhere....

3/21/2013 12:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Jeff Jahn said...

Portland is a completely integrated resistance-based life and culture system. Let's chat in a few weeks... I'll drop by.

3/21/2013 01:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Joanne Mattera said...


I love this thinking. Thanks for posting what is clearly a well-though-out and time-consuming piece of (reading and ) writing.

What I find interesting about this post, from an artist's point of view, is that we artists have been doing pretty much all of this for some time, whether it's or artist-run galleries like Deborah Brown's in Bushwick and Austin Thomas's on the LES; or Loren Munk's James Kalm video reports; Sharon Butler’s Two Coats of Paint, Carol Diehl’s Art Vent or my own Joanne Mattera Art blog; independent publishers like David Cohen’s, and Hrag and Veken’s Hyperallergic—or, for that matter, the ways that strong mid-level galleries open their doors to projects (your Hashtag Class) as well as giving artists and others the opportunity to curate. These efforts extend to curators who invite artists or others to curate or co-curate exhibitions with them, and to artists who curate Popups or online.

Artists are more prepared for downturns and difficulties, because for most of us they are a way of life. Giving up is not an option (unlike grumpy critics of early old age who were probably looking for an excuse to retire, or poor little rich girls who, finding the going a bit choppy, pick up their Birkin Bag and totter off on their Manolos). Even dealers have created their own art fairs to be able to control concept and content.

I would love to see artists, dealers, critics and curators work together more. I think you and Jerry have done an enormous mitzvah for the art community by tearing down fences. Meanwhile, the DIY spirit is strong among artists. In fact, we have a lot that we can share with you. We are all in this together.

3/21/2013 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger Iris said...

I've only had about 3.5 hours of sleep, but I'll do my best, please forgive me if I missed your point or didn't quite understand your meaning.

Yes, Edward, I've heard you say this before: "Ultimately, as I've said many times, the players with the most power to change things are the artists." However, most artists feel quite powerless in face of the reality you accurately describe. As you also say: "There are artists out there making work worthy of the true believers." - but many of these artists are unknown, unseen, invisible. For each artist that is part of the gallery system, there are probably thousands others that are not. Surely not all of them are making significant work, but many that do feel locked out of this congested system. A congestion in which a small number of artists are collected by a small number of wealthy 'investors', while many other artists are not able to enter and many other collectors who are 'true believers' are losing faith, because of what they perceive as an absurd, highfalutin system.

The fact that the art fair has become a popular and successful method of marketing art says something about the state of the artworld, and maybe what is says is something the system is not yet quite grasping. The world has changed, with the onset of the internet, humans are aware of the abundance of creativity, of options, of knowledge that is freely available. People want to see more. Visiting an art fair, or several fairs over a weekend is overwhelming, but it works. We are used now to scan oodles of information searching for a certain topic online, quickly sorting it out, discerning between what is more important to us and what is less. We don't mind seeing art this way. We trust our own intelligence to judge, our own imagination to visualize a piece of art by itself.

Of course, we also love visiting the shrine of art, the museum, but we go there for a different purpose - we go there to feel elevated, to connect with the sublime, not to purchase. And museums are also usually big enough - and yet well curated as to supply us with both the feeling of stimulation, and at the same time provide a unified experience, unlike that of a fair, or a market, where we go to shop.

The gallery model of a white box with just a few pieces of art per wall does not stimulate the collector's senses anymore. Perhaps this sort of presentation should be left for museums, maybe for big galleries as well.

Other galleries need to open up the market to more artists and more buyers. A small gallery can afford to represent 150 artists instead of 15, show maybe 50 of them per one month exhibit, in a salon-style presentation. Perhaps this idea seems to you in very bad taste, but I believe not only will it stimulate a bigger market, but also a bigger, livelier conversation between artists. Being muted stifles artists. Being shown stimulates creativity, stimulates interaction of ideas.

In addition, there needs to be a market that is not only elitist - in term of prices. Oh yeah, some artist's work can continue being sold for millions, some for hundred of thousands, or tens of thousands. But what about the 99% who can't afford to pay such prices - couldn't they enter the market to collect more affordable art? Wouldn't it support emerging artist's work? and galleries? Of course, any artist would love becoming a big ticket, but in the mean time, what about just buying bread?

One of the suggestions in your post was online galleries - those already exist, but seeing art online can never replace seeing it in person, that is the function of B&M galleries.

I certainly don't mean the art needs to lower in quality. The problem - as you just quoted and wrote - in this clogged market is the "lack of significant work among all the objects ... in the galleries these days and a lack of significant direction from the top-selling artists."

(Continues in next comment... too many characters)

3/21/2013 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger Iris said...

(Continued from last comment:)

Open it up. Just like aristocrats in-breeding leads to weaker and weaker genes, so the exclusiveness and disintegration of the artworld leads to weaker art... Open it up and see what happens.

I realize you may be reading this and thinking that you must maintain the exclusivity system, you must maintain the status, and you say - a gallery needs to focus on marketing the few artists it represents and is committed to, otherwise those artists will not have enough sales. But I am saying - open the market not only to more artists - but also more buyers. Not only a market for the super rich. Bring back the 'true believers' who lost faith, some of them long ago. Maybe 'affordable' is a four letter word to you. But for a positive future we must move towards inclusion and integration, not just elitism and the 1%, big corporations, in the art world and everywhere else. We are still living in a world of class based segregation and elitism. The art world stagnates because it falls into this same separatist framework.

I apologize for the long post... and thanks for listening.

3/21/2013 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Thanks for the thoroughtful comment Iris. There's much in there I agree with. Not all, though...

A small gallery can afford to represent 150 artists instead of 15, show maybe 50 of them per one month exhibit, in a salon-style presentation.

Not at all true. Each artist represents paperwork, communications, shipping logistics, etc., etc. Ask artists who work in galleries with rosters too big...this doesn't work well at all unless there is a massive staff to help out or the model is the flat file model in which the work must be fairly small, it's pretty self serve and doesn't involve much in the way of installation and no shipping for the gallery.

3/21/2013 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

"... show the world something more important than clever observations of how superficial we've all become. They (artists) need to look deeper at humankind and themselves and to look away from the cynicism-fueled influences..."


3/21/2013 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger Iris said...

Thanks, Ed. I realize this is a problematic idea, couldn't work in the present system. I'm not familiar with the flat file gallery model. Perhaps if the artists share administrative responsibility with the gallery. Something between a co-op and commercial gallery. The dealer's responsibility would be mainly curating and marketing - dealing? But maybe it's totally unrealistic.

3/21/2013 07:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if you could couple this with your often proposed idea that artists should make art that "can't be ignored" (I'm paraphrasing). What's hard is that the current art world system does ignore a lot of important new work, whether because of where it is made (aka if not New York), or simply because there is too much noise around what is selling _now_ to the non-true believers, rather than leaving potential spaces for new dialogs and markets. I think co-operation could mean across cities and practices, too, especially with new telecommunications systems, and cheaper shipping and plane tickets (you can tell I a writing from somewhere outside of New York...). I believe you, specifically, Ed, are doing this already with your experimental curatorial space, and I applaud it. We need more of that, and I agree that talks/lectures, walkabouts and videos that help broaden and enrich these practices are a great way forward that utilize what the current system is, towards new and different ends... More posts like this, more encouragement like this, please!

3/22/2013 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger AvivaRahmani said...

I really appreciated this post & thread. I was so dismayed by my art fair experience last weekend that after just one 3 hr stint, I went home & took a long nap. The most interesting work I saw were the women who could walk on ultra-high heels. The recommendations are great but what I think is happening to the art world precisely mirrors what is happening environmentally and economically: as species (and classes and roles) get hollowed out, connections break and the entire system gets pushed past a threshold point of collapse where it will self-organize.

As an ecological artist, on the one hand, I think it is possible to predict what will precipitate the "last straw" that will create that self-organization. I have been saying for a while, that the best hope is in understanding physics. There is a point (that I call a trigger point) when it is deliberately calculated) where Maxwells' "demon information" can displace the old system. I can calculate that environmentally, but the art market in some ways is still less over-simplified than what we see in ecosystems in the anthropocene. The problem I see that needs to be examined, is what are the factors that go into modeling predictively?

3/22/2013 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger AvivaRahmani said...

Part 2

I presume, based on thinking about the natural environment, that the greatest factors are neither obvious nor easy to move, such as capitalism run amuck. On the other hand, if my reference to physics is correct, it may just take the right small trigger to effect change.

I can only go back to what I work on in my own practice as a model. Right now, I'm experimenting with trying to recapitulate the pressure, multi-tasking and preparation work that will go into solving climate change in a project I'm preparing for May in Memphis (Fish Story). I see that as an endurance performance. The personal trick for me, is how to do that without burning out & crashing before I get there, let alone afterwards.

The relevance of my practice model to the art market is that if the artist is the "trigger point" in the critical shift we all need, the question is how individual artists are going to survive the present? The short answer is not easily and not alone. Artists have been competitive divided from dealers and each other. But no matter how powerful insanity may be in the art world right now, like fracking, there are many more of "us" losing from what is happening than there are of "them" gaining big time at everyone else's expense.

When Rob Storr recently addressed the CAA with a litany of what the schools & academia are doing wrong, instead of complaining about how he was a "downer," I think he should have been heard as a clarion call from Cassandra. His talk and some others last month at CAA, this blog and the responses, Jerry's FB page are parts of what keeps me going so I don't crash in isolation as an artist. I believe we can be the 99% if we make ourselves heard.
The simplest answer to what can be done is to say it more and say it loudly. This is a collective endurance event.

As I was typing this, i got a call from Carolee Schneemann and we talked about where values and discernment had gone these days (out the window). Values & discernment will go the way, I think of this entire world unless those of us who care passionately about a different set of values find our collective voice. That process of finding a collective voice, is, I think the "demon information" that could trigger a change.

Will it bring back a past we loved or at least sentimentally enjoyed in our lifetimes? Not for many polar bears or elephants, not for the people who now have polluted water and not for many of us in one aspect or another of the art world in our lifetimes. But something & some of us will survive with integrity.

My suggestion: put together a panel some place very visible, inc Ed, Jerry, Rob, Carolee, Alain & whomever else has a clear voice (more articulate women) and drag people to it with a media campaign that connects these issues to all the others we are facing globally.

3/22/2013 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger AvivaRahmani said...

Part 3:
Add Mira Schor and Mierle Ukeles to that panel.

3/22/2013 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger rorykrupp said...

Just from a purely practical standpoint what's going to happen when these collectors, many of whom made their money by robbing small countries, ethnic cleansing etc., realize that they've been sold a contemporary version of a Thomas Kinkade painting and everyone is making fun of them behind their backs?

Secondly, what collector is going to believe anything anyone tells them from now on? Mark my words, this art market vulgarity combined with those damned Portlandia people ( is going to give creative destruction a whole new meaning.

3/22/2013 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger John said...

I think you're touching on a lot of issues some with more validity than others.

Regarding 'true believers,' just because they stop supporting a fair or gallery that doesn't mean they're not collecting. It just means they aren't collecting from those venues. They find new places, new artists, and new art that aligns with their tastes.

The middle tier is always being squeezed, but it squeezes the lower tiers. I can't think of a single middle tier gallery that would put on a solo show for an artist that had no CV, no previous show experience, pedigree etc.. So in that regard it works both ways. Artists want to climb the ladder too. Perhaps if you're a middle tier gallery, you need to reexamine the position and figure out what it means to become a top tier. Maybe dusting off the roster? Dip the toe in the avant garde end of the pool? Being content to be middle tier will always leave you open to poaching.

Speaking to vulgarity of the art world, when hasn't it been driven by money? Was the sistine chapel free? Did J.L. David paint Napolean for 'exposure'? No.

What's gross is the overestimation of 'art'. It's a privilege to be able to make and show art, and I think many artists forget it. They lose touch and then we end up with vapid art, emulations of what will sell, trendy, or look good in a living room.

As a gallerist (Ed) it's not just about money changing hands. It's a level of aesthetic acumen, trust, and foresight in artists and their art. If you want to make a difference you have to assume risk. Otherwise someone else will, and then your world is beholden to their ideals of what 'art' should be. Irving Blum did it, Leo Castelli did it, etc. et al.

3/22/2013 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...


I'll accept your challenge to galleries to shake things up as a means of dealing with the current landscape in the same way I hope artists accept my challenges to them.

We are trying. For example, we launched an art fair (assuming, as you challenge, a great deal of risk) as part of our attempt to and refashion the art world. But I'm more than willing to try other things as well.

I must note, though, that your claim that middle tier galleries, which generally have rosters they're dedicated to promoting (and have invested in for years to become middle-tier galleries) won't also take on artists with no previous show experience isn't true though. We, like other galleries, have a project space in which we do just that.

I'd recommend this previous post in which much of the new landscape impacting middle tier galleries in new ways for the first time is discussed in more depth than here.

3/22/2013 04:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

I just couldn't stop watching. I found around 5:24 significant then 10:00 but then it just seemed to get more pertinent and erie.
Joker as an Artist
Frustrating thing is- we can't all play the Joker.

3/23/2013 12:56:00 AM  
Blogger John said...

Relationships need to be cultivated and can't always be about business. If 'true believers' are becoming disenfranchised, break bread with them and ask what does excite them. Take some time out and have them take you to a show, or a performance and study it with them. The same goes with poached artists - they are your partners. Have dinner with them, talk about new shows, see art together, make it hard for them to leave the relationship.

See what can be learned from these experiences and find a way to integrate parts of that into your program so it's stronger.

If someone has a problem and they tell you about it - they're probably already looking for the solution. Take advantage of that.

Also, the internet has ruined everything. Why go to XYZ gallery if I can drop by online and see 95% of the show and decide then and there if I want to take the effort or not? Perhaps a more thoughtful approach to teasing the work out when promoting it instead of giving it all away at once. Also that puts you in a position to evaluate art better when promoting. When a years worth of effort by an artist can be consumed in 60 seconds you aren't doing yourself or your artists any favors. Crop images, slowly release new images via email, unique and beautiful detailed images all leading up to shows to help build some excitement.

But maybe you know this and are already thinking about your business this way.

But sometimes the artist is just a dud (personality, social skills, style), sometimes the ambition runs short. That stinks but it's true.

3/24/2013 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you for this post. It was a big confirmation for the Brave New Art World team. It is indeed an overwhelming mountain of .01% that demands distribution of both economy and concept, but it seems we are all closer to the actual renaissance than we think. Awareness is the number one medicine. Thank you again.

3/24/2013 10:34:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I like the way you think, John. Some of what you advise is already underway (with regards to talking with the disillusioned true believers)...but it's good to state it that clearly

3/24/2013 10:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question regarding the idea of using the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players by FIFA" (the Fédération Internationale de Football Association) I think I get how this benefits the galleries involved, (as you say -- the consequences for a smaller gallery of losing an artist to a bigger gallery could be less severe.), but how does this affect the artist? Maybe I am misunderstanding, but it seems to penalize the artist. The fee paid to "Gallery A" would come from?

3/25/2013 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

presumably the poaching gallery would pay...

if there's a contract between artist and Gallery A anyway (something you can probably expect to see more in the future), this would be good for the artist, not bad. as now Gallery would be more willing to let the artist break their contract if the poaching gallery reimbursed them for the money they had invested in the artist.

3/25/2013 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger Stefano W. Pasquini said...

Thank you Ed, seen from a crumbling faraway province these articles are fantastic.

3/27/2013 07:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Nicole Kelsey said...

If you care about children having access to art and music education, please take a minute to bid on a vacation. Check out the Art Resource Teaching Society's new auction at:

3/28/2013 07:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm calling to let you know about
a wonderful new program available
to all artists represented by Gagosian/Mugrabi at no extra
charge. If you've had it with
the rat race and have decided
to bid sayonara to the splendors
and miseries of this mortal coil, have we got a program for you.
It's the new Gagosian/Mugrabi Complimentary Decapitation
Service. It's so easy a caveman could do it. Just answer a
few simple, easy questions,
and at the date and time of
your choice, a Gagosian/Mugrabi representative will come to
your home and professionally
detach your cranial compartment
with minimal pain and a brand
new Black and Decker circular
saw - all at no extra
charge. Doesn't that sound fantastic. To enroll in
this wonderful new program,
press one now.

Operators are standing by.

3/28/2013 07:56:00 PM  
Anonymous resonanteye said...

the amount of income derivative and shallow works earn their makers makes me leery of the entire system of galleries and collectors.

I'm an artist, and like Iris says, I have a strong drive to make art, to make better art than I made before- but the "market" sickens me, and I am not a market worker. I have so many hours in the day. artists can make art, or they can "reinvent the system", there's not time for both.

significant works are difficult to make, when you are rarely able to get them seen. a lot of the artists that ought to be more visible are drowned out.

we have to eat. this is our work. I'm "outsider" so I get by, with my own group of collectors, but there are so many artists - the very ones who WOULD be making that work- who aren't interested in competing with slick ads, commercialized stuff, or art fair snobbery. those artists don't get seen, and stay in the sideline. collectors aren't finding them. and to pay the rent, the fucking rent of all things, they end up being weekend Painters and weekday house painters.

I'm sorry if this seems naive, but I've watched too many incredible artists go through hell, while people making trash take home millions- i have really strong, if under-educated, feelings about this.

4/09/2013 02:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

Well said resonanteye!

4/10/2013 10:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

Artists are letting us down because they are not leading the way
Gallerists are letting us down because they are not seeking out artists
Critics are letting us down because they are not uncovering what is worthwhile
Collectors are letting us down because they are not taking chances
Art Schools have let us down because they teach complacency
The Capitalist system has failed most of us

4/12/2013 08:57:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home