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February 22, 2008

MAO - Viewer Mail - Email From an Artist

Happy TGIF!!

Chick_or_egg One of the main motivations for starting the MAO blog was to get attention be in better contact with Galleries and Artists...of course a little bitchiness and humor along the way always helps too.

Granted on this site we've frequently overly obsessed talked about the investment aspects of art, but as a contemporary collector, one of the great joys has been getting to know, help out and support artists and galleries. We've learned nothing so much, and the people we've met, and the art we've collected has enriched our life.  A few unexpected things we're learned along the way..

  1. Just because you like the artist's work.. it doesn't mean you'll like the artist
  2. Most galleries are very small businesses that need to pay the bills, so despite their "enthusiasm", they don't always believe strongly in all of their artists
  3. Artists who produce super hip chic hot work, can be total geeks, nerds and totally down to earth

So we've always enjoyed getting tons of email from both artists and galleries, particularly if it's genuine interest in MAO art discussions, and not just looking to sell sometime or to get a write up on their latest show.

But last week, we got this email.... questioning if the art world revolves around the artist or the gallery??  So we were wondering what the many MAO readers thought.. all comments are welcome.


          My name is Mr. Emale Artists and I read your blog about the art world and I couldn't agree more!!  But I have another side to offer - as an artist, I can say that not only does the art world appear to be 'above itself' but it is also the realm where galleries, many set out, only to exploit the artist.  They 'trick' artists to exhibit in their space, pay exorbitant fees to do so, and then do nothing - when I say nothing, I mean that they don't bring anyone to view the works, instead they leave it to who ever is out strolling on Thursday nights.  In my opinion - the art world revolves around the gallery and not art, as it were.
Of course, not all galleries are like this - but it has become so hard to see the good from the bad!
Anyway, I really just wanted to thank you for what you wrote, and add my two cents.
Mr. Emale Artist


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It sounds like your artist reader is very bitter.. Maybe they should try to focus more on making their art, and less about the gallery system.

If their art was any good.. the galleries would be doing everything for them!

Of course the art world revolves around galleries, and galleries are first and foremost in need of paying the bills and making a living. We live in a time of spectacle and low attention span, what is flashy, hot, and the next new thing rules the day and the pocket book.

Art generally does not happen in the gallery (some installation art aside), as Virginia Wolff said, one needs "a room of her own", hardly the type of thing one would find in the social stratosphere of the art world. Of course she also said one does need money, and that is something the art world can provide.

In general while I see a great deal of excellent work in galleries, and even more awful work, all in all it appears to me to be little more than an absurdist circus (I am though a great lover of the theatre of the absurd). Would that place me in Rick's bitter artist category? I suppose so, to be an artist is one thing, to be a good buisness person is another thing. Sometimes they come together in a person, and sometimes they do not. Lets not fall into the foolishness that to think the art world is a measure of the first rather than the second.

A successful artist once remarked to me that the artist has to do 90 percent of the sales, and give his dealer 100 percent of the credit to get along in the art world.

P.S. Don't feel alone, Emale Artist. You should see what novelists have to say about the lousy deals they get from their publishers.

In these current market any artist who wants to be successful and make a living of creating ART must have a good business sense or be surrounded by people who can provide it. Galleries are in the business of promoting art and generating revenue.
Jeff Koons for example is an extremely successful artist but, prior of making art was a trader in Wall Street.
Ryan McGinley at graduation time, prepared portfolios and sent them to artists he admired and businesses he will like to work for. It paid off at the end too.

In the same fashion that the Real Estate offices provide office and leads for RE agents, Galleries provide space and promotion for artists.
The Real Estate agents have to hustle...so the Artists.
Swim or Sink.

As a gallerist, it makes me cringe when I hear the horror stories of how a gallery screwed an artist or how an artist screwed a gallery. The gallery/artist relationship is a business partnership. Before inking a deal, both sides need to do their due diligence and know who they are getting in bed with. I can’t tell you how often I am approached by artists who don’t have a clue what my gallery is about. Instead, they simply walk in and tell me how their work would look great hanging in my gallery. Huh?!?!?! Do you even know my name? Trust me… this is not someone I want to do business with. It is critical for both parties to know, trust and – dare I say – respect their business partner. It seems to work best that way.

The M·A·C attitude is expressed by our artists, seen and felt in our stores and accessed online. Email us to get answers to your M·A·C related questions. http://www.listgiant.com

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