Wednesday, March 17, 2010

20 x 24 Oil on Linen

Sometimes the artist and their gallery see each other as opponents rather than teammates. Tension creeps in and strains the relationship. I've given this a bit of thought over the years so maybe I can help each side to understand how the other is thinking. Let's start by defining why each one exists. The gallery is a for profit business, the artist prizes aesthetics above all else. Galleries are not museums, if the artist does a masterpiece that doesn't match the gallery clientele it is still a masterpiece but of no use to the gallery. Now, if the artist is resricted to painting only what matches the gallery clientele he begins to feel like he is doing factory work and his creativity suffers. The fairest compromise I've seen is that the gallery starts by showing only what the clientele wants, then gradually slips in something different as the clients gain confidence in the artist. I like to use this waiting period to show what the gallery isn't ready for in juried exhibitions. Juried exhibits want to show masterpieces and if your work is really good you might win a prize. Another area of conflict is exclusivity. I understand that a gallery does not want their clients walking down the street to buy the artist's paintings at a rival gallery after they put time and money into promoting his work. The artist, however, feels that he needs to have as many people as possible see and buy his work and wants to hang it everywhere that is available. The solution here is quite simple. If the gallery sells everything the artist gives him there will be no question of exclusivity because the artist will have no work to give to anyone else. Otherwise, more people will see the work if it is spread out over a larger geographic area so the artist should respect the gallery's space and send their work a bit farther away. Both sides get what they want with this arrangement. Many other problems can arise but I'll address them in another post. If galleries and artists can each put themselves in the position of the other, understanding and compassion will have them working on the same team.....

No comments: