What Have You Done For Me Lately?

July 18, 2008 · Print This Article

janet jackson“My dealer is acting weird,” a friend from New York said to me recently. “Weird, how?” I asked, starting to work on my probable list of dual sided offenses and defenses between the two parties. “Weird like, I can never tell if she likes my work. She keeps putting off studio visits and some other stuff. I don’t know what she wants from me”

“…other stuff…” Okay, so I can surmise that one of two things is happening.

One: this dealer is fixin’ to screw my friend. The dealer has lost interest, found something better, is disappointed in sales. The dealer probably got an early pass to the MFA exhibition at one of the local Young Artists Vocational Schools of Instant Success and has replaced nearly half her roster of artists with youngsters whose installation work revolves around their “like, umm, genuine interest in Hip-Hop culture”.

Then there’s option Two, which is just that there’s a very benign slow spot and the dealer is doing everything she can, and they’ll wait it out and end up happily strategizing for the full blossom of my friend’s career over a couple of Stellas at the Half King. Great. Phew.

Either way, it reminded me of the tense and difficult relationship artists often have with their gallery representation. It seems always to be a vague replica of every high school relationship I ever had: one person liked the other person better than the other person liked them. Many gallery artists are constantly worried about whether their work will be on the booth walls at the next fair, and the dealers are often worried about the artist moving up and out when the first better opportunity comes along. Artist: jockeying for pole position within the harem. Dealer: fawning over the first draft pick she just discovered.

These people are famous for their insecurity. It seems impossible to find a stable understanding between artist and dealer and healthy relationships are as rare as a Very Hard to Find Thing. Why can’t the artists and dealers situate themselves comfortably in a happy 50/50 exchange of mutual career furthering and wholesome fostering of the betterment of art? I can’t figure out if it’s a problem with money or with ego. Is it a simple lack of paperwork? What are the rules and reasonable expectations for this relationship, and can we all get a damn handbook?

In my recent life, I was an art dealer. So I know something about what some artists want. But it’s actually complicated. Some of them want artfame, and some of them want money, and some of them are just content to be named on the list of gallery artists. And I too wanted different things from each of them. Some of them inspired in me a professional quality drive toward museum collections and a place in the most important survey exhibitions, and for others, I knew we weren’t going to make it there, but still had something good to offer one another. In the meantime, they all loved it when I sold work.

Here’s the thing to know from a dealer’s prospective: I want to make money off of you. From the wellspring of your gleaming talent, that which you have honed ever since you were nineteen, that which you slaved over perfecting in the studio for lo’ these last two years. You ate nothing but pitas and hummus for 36 months and now I want to take money for the fruits of your labor?!

This comes as a surprise and great offense to many young artists. But here’s the thing: I want you to make money off my work too. From the wellspring of my talent, that which I may or may not have honed, through various preparator gigs and gallery internments, I mean “internships”, that which I have slaved over perfecting, and eaten hummus only, etc. for.

If a dealer/ artist relationship is balanced, it should be symbiotic (you can decide who’s the whale and who’s the lamprey). It isn’t a free service to artists and it shouldn’t be a free ride for dealers. You make the art, and deal with all the sacrifices that come along with it, and I’ll do the dealing and accept all the sacrifices that come along on this side. For my 50%, I will hang my face over a computer for hours a day, researching museums and collections, turn my ear red and sweaty from making uncomfortable phone calls, pay the monthly bills, design, print, stamp, mail, pack, stay in terrible hotels, and sit in a booth waiting to tell people about you until my ass is numb. You, for your half, will work two jobs that you don’t love, sketch, draw and haul all over the city to find materials for your sculpture. You can hang your face over the canvas or table saw or whatever it is you hang over and then we’ll sell a piece and divvy up the profits. The better you do, the better I do, and vice versa. On the face of it, it seems so simple, so easy to be bitterness neutral.

Too bad some shit always goes down, and soon enough the lamprey isn’t keeping the whale clean enough. And then your dealer starts acting “weird”. So you consider… “What has that snatch done for me lately, anyway? Maybe I don’t need a dealer. Maybe I need a better dealer! I deserve a better dealer…” and so on and so forth. It may all be true. It may be the other way around. Either way, a basic litmus is that everyone should feel like they’re earning their fifty percent. If the formula falters, reassess. But between an artist and a dealer, it’s a perpetual battle of underestimating one another’s sacrifices.

The only truth I’ve uncovered in witnessing a mass of misunderstandings and a long run of dubious dealings is this: if you’re waiting around, an artist relying solely on your dealer to make something happen for you, or a dealer, resting on the laurels of your artists, you will be waiting a long time, babies. Neither of you have anything coming to you. So you’re just going to have to go out and work for it.

76 Responses to “What Have You Done For Me Lately?”

  1. tony fitzpatrick Says:

    It’s not the chicken and the egg. No Art– No Art dealer. It’s that simple. If they’re not making money off you — they don’t give a fuck about you. 50% is inequitable. The fucking Mob doesn’t take 50%.

    There are models out there that are far more fair for artists– there are dealers who take 35%– which doesn’t assume that the dealer’s effort in selling it equals the artist’s effort in making it.

    Xerox this one to your brain: The dealer is always the lamprey. To imply otherwise is disingenuous and dishonest.

  2. tony fitzpatrick Says:

    Really Lisa — I like you– but pitching a bunch of boo-hoo for dealers?…. I know better. Better to be smart than clever.

  3. Beyond insipid. This ‘piece’ of writing should be required reading for all those wanting to inform themselves as to the state of Chicago art dealer’s pathetic debacle.

  4. Tony,

    I’m well aware that approximately 85% of dealers are or have the potential to be complete fucking douchebags. Complete. Certain greedy bad idiots are attracted to the practice of art dealing with much frequency. This article proposes to start a conversation about those that aren’t. For the artists who choose to engage in this relationship, it’s an article to bring up a issues about what it’s meant to do for each party. (There are some people who choose not to engage in it and do just fine. I never said an artist needs a dealer. And you’re right, a dealer always needs an artist.)

    But this is not an “opinion” piece, and I don’t land on either side of the argument. I am interested in hearing each side of it. I am just expressing my experience that it’s a constant struggle of balance. Is that not true?

    But to say all dealers aren’t lampreys and to to believe that is to announce my dishonesty and lack of intelligence? Every single dealer a lazy, parasitic moocher? And all artists? Hardworking, honest martyrs?

    This was so far from boo hooing for dealers, Tony. I would never wave a banner advertising the goodness of “Dealers” as an entity. But it’s not one big, many tentacled creature. There are people who are interested in working with artists to sell work and disseminate it. There are artists who are interested in not having to do that part of being an artist. Fine, let’s discuss the details. There are problems with the model. Obviously.

    That was the content of the article. When dealers use and abandon artists and when artists are capable of the same. What’s the purpose of the relationship and what does each party want?

    You know, I for one, showed plenty of work that did not sell AT ALL, and I stuck with those artists. I did actually give a fuck about them, and didn’t favor the ones who would be doing all the selling. Did you ever see a booth of mine? I was one of the few people who cared about the way the work looked, and put much less of it up, trying to get people to see the work and take note of the artist. I couldv’e taken a whole other wall to wall approach, couldn’t I have? I never left with any cash for myself. My artists did.

    So, to say that the dealer is always the lamprey can’t be true. I know some that aren’t. In fact, I closed my gallery not because it failed financially or wasn’t getting some press. I closed it because I promised the artists I was working with that I would back out if I ever felt my fifty percent work ethic waning. I felt it waning ever so slightly, I became drawn to other things, and I told them. I couldv’e held out for a long time, running the gallery on sales that just happened. I put every dime made at the gallery back into promotion for the artists. Did you often see full page ads for artists who had never had a show, like you did with mine? What’s that called, if not working to try and understand the balance needed to make a useful relationship?

    Let’s start with a minimum proposition that we’re talking about artists who think galleries (some galleries) have something to offer, and want to work with them. Then let’s talk about that relationship. Is it altogether a lost cause?

  5. Sorry, edit.

    >But to say all dealers aren’t lampreys and to to believe that is to announce my dishonesty and lack of intelligence?

    To say all dealers ARE lampreys…

  6. Tony Fitzpatrick Says:

    I know all of this — in fact , I bought some work from your gallery — not a lot — but some things I liked. I just cringe when I hear how hard it is to be a dealer — I’m sorry — in 25 years of earning a living at this — I know too many of them and I know better.

    the best dealers are interested in pushing a practice they believe in forward– I think there are many admirable dealers– I work with a bunch of them– and they are honorable decent, coherent and committed. They are ambassadors for the ideas of artists — not merchants– they profit because they’re good .
    There are programs here I admire a lot — Tony Wight, Western Exhibitions, and others give me hope. They seem to be about much more than fashion and I respect their missions. Many of the other’s are merely merchants– hooked into the fashion of it and think because they have 4 white walls — they know something– and there are no shortage of these. I’ve sent perfectly talented people to them and they’ve not even taken the time to look at the work– they were too cool to look…… One example of this is a young woman named KS Rives — who I sent around to some dealers here and she couldn’t get them to really look or even have a meaningful conversation… finally I sent her to some dealers I know in New York and they were smart enough to work with her — they’ve sold her well — she’s been picked up by museum collections and her prices have doubled in a year– she is the real thing and she is a Chicagoan who could not get any traction here– and she’s terrific. The real thing. I bring her up Lisa because you were one of the dealers i sent her to — I thought she fit your program — most of which I really liked — and I also thought a smart young dealer could do a lot with her — and none of them bit……
    it was an object lesson in what is wrong here.
    Maybe her work wasn’t for you …. I don’t even know if you looked… from what KS told me , you said your program was set and you weren’t really looking…I don’t really remember the details .
    I do remember thinking that if I owned a fledgling gallery ; this is exactly the kind of talent I’d like to push — it is smart , playful, nimble, and intricate– I’ve bought 8 of her pieces and I love them all .
    After her experience here I sent her to Adam Baumgold gallery in Manhattan and Pierogi in Brooklyn; who also happen to be my dealers– and they both decided to work with her — and both have sold everything she’s given them — she’s also been collected by some museums–she has also — via their efforts and much of her own– hooked up with many other galleries around the country– in short — she is a racehorse — one or two like her and a young program can plant their flag and build a salient mission.
    It wasn’t easy but she did it– a good gallery here could have made her life and career a bit easier– but– they didn’t– and she did it anyway.

    Wise up. This isn’t about dealers — this is about art– and sometimes the smartest thing a dealer can do is to hold out a hand ….. good dealers know this.

  7. I have no doubt that Ms. Boyle is accurately representing the difficulty of thriving as a dealer within the gallery system. What she does not do however is offer any alternative. Considering that many have racked their brains over this issue who can blame her?

    I have been fortunate to work through honest and diligent dealers in the spirit of true partnership. Unfortunately, the process of selling art through the gallery system is problematic. It is no wonder that so many participants end up hurt and embittered. Artists, dealers, and clients all suffer from the system’s lack of transparency. In a market that Ms. Boyle herself has identified as known for arbitrary pricing and fickle standards of quality, dealers have done nothing to ease client concerns that they are not being gouged or steered.

    The dealer problems Ms. Boyle describe would be valid if the art market was a true wholesale/retail market, but it isn’t. Galleries are not retail stores. Retail stores purchase the merchandise they offer for sale. The mark-up on the wholesale discount covers not only overhead, but also the capital tied up from maintaining an inventory. In actuality most galleries operate as consignment shops. In reality the artist is the one taking the risk by removing their work from the market without compensation on the hope that the dealer will make an honest effort to sell the work and will fairly share the proceeds.

  8. In the early 90′s I walked one day into the backroom at LA Louver -there oddly enough sat Peter Goulds – who runs LA Louver -and at the time, New York Louver as well -two galleries that had no equal here in Chicago -as a matter of fact, the office of New York Louver was larger than most galleries down on Peoria Street-

    Anyway, there was Peter, a major contemporary art dealer, bent over a slide table, with this kind of disheveled plein air painter who had just walked in off the street wanting to show the gallery’s owner his work. When I started to walk by, seeing the work wasn’t much, Peter rather sternly beckoned me over to sit down and peruse the work with him and the artist -whom I’m sure had no clue of an idea that he was being afforded this basic human form of dignity and courtesy by one of the top dealers in the world.

    No, Peter wasnt going to show this work -just as he wasnt about to be caught up in ‘all the rage’ of what was currently ‘hot’….why? because he was a real, professional art dealer -not someone with a storefront, showing barely ex art students, trying to plan exhibitions by gaging how they would be received by other bastions of coolness and hipness -at art fairs and other places where very important people meet. Peter, was willing to look from the ground on up, to see, and think for himself. And yes, many years later, through some incredibly good and tough times, LA Louver is still in business.

    Chad, your point about consignment -is perfect: what other form of consignment is there, that does not allow you to sell work out of your studio, sell work with other dealers in the Chicago area? And for what in return? Every artist who choses to go the gallery route should ask hard questions like, what am I getting for 50% of my profit? Catalogs? A dealer who comes in at 8-9 am and works until 6-7 at night 5-6 days a week, a dealer who has researched the top collectors -and contacts those who might be interested in the kind of work you make, shall I go on?

    Also,I agree with Tony Fitz, Tony Wight is a bright lite -here -he seems to have his own vision and, he is dedicated….though it doesnt seem to be helping him much here in this environment…as I have previously noted, galleries in LA and NYC have the advantage of serious collectors who collect locally- something that basically doesnt exist here -perhaps with the regime change happening at the MCA things can change -it is common knowledge for instance, Francesco Bonami has openly and publicly bragged about how he doesnt do studio visits here unless with a huge recomendation from ‘friends’…and all he is, is a failed painter with an internationally panned, TRASHED! ( Venice) exhibition under his belt. You would think he would find some humility and gratitude for his amazingly good fortune -at, our expense.

  9. An artist/dealer relationship is like a marriage. When it is good it can be great; and when it isn’t it sucks. Some marriages are great. Some aren’t. Some remain great. Some head south. And sometimes, some of you thrashtalk a spouse who you used to rave about. It is not that all dealers, artists, & spouses are douchebags. It is that good relationships are difficult. Way too many artists and dealers commit themselves to relationships prematurely, without knowing what they want out of it; just that they want to have a gallery. And once the relationship becomes a matter of fact many are pissed off at what they’ve entered into. If dealers are scum, why enter into a relationship with one at all? Nobody said you had to get married. How many artists go with the first gallery that will have them? How many dealers think long-term about the relationship? What is this? Seventh grade?

  10. BAS needs to get Lisa on the “air” with these essays, they are really interesting and conversation-worthy whether you agree with her or not. Great stuff.

  11. Do we really need to drag Chicago as the guilty party in every negative conversation we have about art? It seems like Chicago doesn’t want anybody to move to Chicago. That’s crazy…so why scare those who love Chi and those who might want to live in Chi again?

  12. Pedro, as much as I sympathize with your sentiments, before change can happen, comes the need for recognition. This whole thread -particularly the article itself, serves to illustrate just how collegiate/juvenile/unprofessional the whole scene is here: in reality, there are two really world class dealers in Chicago, (Richard and Paul Gray/Alan Koppel) both essentially secondary market dealers. You then have two second tier NYC style galleries in Rhona Hoffman and Donald Young…..then come the hipster storefronts and Lisa Boyles -in otherwords, its pretty grim.

    The bright side as I see it, is the artists here who choose to NOT have representation -but rather to keep 100% of the proceeds for themselves -while also assuming the responsibility of dealing their own work. Its no accident that some of the most successful artists here have chosen this route. And, what a great place Chicago is to be an artist-inspite of the corrupt, mickey mouse level official art world here-

  13. Once more, I will point out that while there is plenty of blame to go all around, its not simply local dealers that are at fault, the problem begins with the contempt most local curators and collectors have for Chicago artists, the almost complete lack of real, tangible support. How when they do offer support, it is for ‘emerging’ -Judith Kirchner’s students -or SAIC’s -there is very little support for a professional level scene here to be emerged into- an occaisonal one man show at the MCA is not the same as a curated show or shows with VISION, that GALVANIZE -like Paul Schimmel has done in LA…

  14. Michael Workman Says:

    From The Graduate, paraphrased for brevity:

    “I’m going to marry Elaine Robinson.”
    “What makes you think she wants to marry you?”
    “Oh, she doesn’t. To be perfectly honest she doesn’t like me.”

    Sometimes, things happen because they must. That’s pretty much it.

  15. Michael Workman Says:

    Can I say how much I love the Geico commercial with the Ms. Buttersworth bottle?

  16. I understand…I also think everybody recognizes it already,it’s an identity issue…but it’s time to move on, maybe it’s time to just not mention the second city complex or the lack of curators supporting the scene and all that. I think we all get it now…If we keep bringing the ghost we loose.

    anyway, there’s a god chance I’ll be back in Chi for good this year.

  17. tony fitzpatrick Says:

    I think Pedro Velez coming back to Chicago is a very good thing for the city — welcome home.

  18. > What she does not do however is offer any alternative. Considering that many have racked their brains over this issue who can blame her?

    I am very interested to discuss these possibilities. To start (into what is a complex issue), European artists, for the most part think 50% is highway robbery. They say, ” I can’t believe they get away with that shit!” But then I hear from European dealers that they sell more easily- more people of average income prioritize buying art. Think of cities like Basel- not a large city, but vibrant in terms of the support it gives to artists and the venues that host them. So is there a better formula (that works for both parties) with regard to percentages? And how does living in a culture that is less inclined to value its cultural contributions affect this?

    >Artists, dealers, and clients all suffer from the system’s lack of transparency.

    Yes, this is so huge. Artists end up bitter because it’s difficult to see how they are or are not being treated right, and what they can expect, because it’s a very closed system. (Makes lots of room, unfortunately, for them to be taken advantage of if they aren’t diligent). And dealers get insecure and reactive because they too can’t really see what’s around the corner. There’s absolutely zero accountability in the entire model. Do you think that can ever change?

    And this is of great interest, both to artists and dealers- it underlines the main misunderstanding:

    >if the art market was a true wholesale/retail market, but it isn’t. Galleries are not retail stores. Retail stores purchase the merchandise they offer for sale. The mark-up on the wholesale discount covers not only overhead, but also the capital tied up from maintaining an inventory. In actuality most galleries operate as consignment shops. In reality the artist is the one taking the risk by removing their work from the market without compensation on the hope that the dealer will make an honest effort to sell the work and will fairly share the proceeds.

    So, to offer an alternative model- what if dealers were made to buy work as inventory- at half the retail cost (wholesale discount), and then sell it and keep the profit? I think of how reemed certain artists feel when they sell work and a few years later it goes at auction for pure craziness, a dime of which they never see. How would an artist feel if they made work- sold it to a dealer who then, in essence, immediately flipped it for twice that? Or held onto it, until they could realize an even bigger margin. You land in exactly the same spot, don’t you? You got 50%, the dealer got 50%. When I think about this model, I worry that a whole other equivalent crop of problems emerges. But I like thinking about what they would be. Because, as you said, there are certainly problems with the way things are.

  19. And basically most of what Dan Savage said. There are people who are comfortable operating completely outside of the gallery model. Which is no skin off anyone’s back.

    What happens with artists who cannot, and most definitively do not want to deal with any part of the selling of the work, the promotion of it, etc. Sometimes the are fiercely opposed to that. Sometimes they find a good dealer and it works out really well.

    It goes back to the idea of transparency. I think that is so crucial. If each person knows exactly what to expect and the process is laid out the whole way through, it seems harder to get into trouble. I’m starting on a mental list of what the terms that need to be discussed are. Here’s my start:

    1. What/ when are exhibition opportunities over the next year- two, or more.
    2. Who is responsible for what in terms of preparing the exhibition.
    3. What prices are fair, and WHY.
    4. What advertising will happen.
    5. What are the parameters of sales- do you agree about selling work from the studio or not.
    6. What are terms with finding new, additional gallery opportunities.
    7. Is the artist getting a list of contacts the gallery has made on their behalf? Collectors contacts?

    As I think about it, there a lot of terms to be transparent about. This list goes on and on. But there is no reason a dealer can’t discuss these things very openly with the artist. No reason at all to not be explicit. And then, like Dan said, the two can decide to get married, engaged, or whatever.

  20. Pedro, the kind of silence you are eschewing is exactly what got us to where we are. Actually my most recent response in this discussion was hopefully intended for one Madeleine Grynstein’s attention -that she might consider that the 12X12 for emerging artists is not commensurate with giving vision to the Chicago artworld by taking the professional art scene here seriously, by mounting galvanizing exhibitions that creat canon/context -Paul Schimmel -Helter Skelter -perfect example- That the ‘professional artists given attention here at the official level -not just be the ‘court’ artists coming out of UIC/Kirchner’s dominion-

    And no, I dont think people get it.

    Yes it is a good thing you are pondering a return -but not with your tail between your legs…..its finally time to change this place -which you should be a part of -so man up. This is a time of war.

    As for Lisa’s list……what the fuck!#@$#@#% is this kindergarten?
    Its enough to make you want to commit hari kari.

  21. Tony Fitzpatrick Says:

    Lisa’s list seems very well thought out– if only these considerations were actually discussed … Many dealers want to be Tarzan and they want the artist to be Jane– or the chimp.

    My European artist friends wouldn’t consider giving 50%.

    Let’s not ever kid ourselves about this being a business — it is — and for dealer’s it’s the last bastion of laissez faire capitalism– they’ve enabled a culture of hedge-fund jerk-offs to commodify the cultural out-put of a generation. They opened the door to this.

    The dealer as de facto ‘art-star’ !

    hose it down.

  22. Silence? what silence? it’s not silence, I’ve been busy working on moving.

    no, not with the tail between my legs, impossible…that wouldn’t be me.

    and those who don’t get it never will, we can’t change that…But we can just build something new and better and we add it up to all the positives. Writers know that when you don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist, and eventually people forget it…that’s the trick.

  23. Pedro -ignoring the situation here clearly doesnt make it go away – there is 20 years of detritus wafting around here that pretty much renders that idea moot.

    Its good you are headed back-

  24. >Lisa’s list seems very well thought out– if only these considerations were actually discussed …

    Dealers should offer the details up and be thorough about discussing it. Artists just have to insist on it. I never made them insist on it, but for whatever reason, artists sometimes don’t think it’s their prerogative. It is! Of fucking course it is.

    I can understand why some artists don’t want to go the gallery route. If they do though, they should really find out what they’re getting out of it. I know that if I was an artist and had a sculpture, which I was willing to part with for $3,000., and someone said, “Hey, I can help you sell that and maybe get you some other shows and more exposure if you will allow me to add on $3,000. for my work…” I would want to know precisely what their fucking work was going to be.

    I think, in essence you and I, as well as several other people on here stand for many of the same things. Which is basically a demand that this relationship, shrouded in many unsavory possibilities, be broken open so we can see what’s really in there.

  25. Theo Nikos Jouflas Says:

    A key problem in the Artist/Dealer relationship is that it is always easier for a Dealer to find a new Artist to sell to their already existing list of Collectors, than it is for them to find new Collectors to buy work by the Artists they already represent.

    Most human beings will opt for the path of least resistance if possible.

    Mr. Savage uses the analogy of marriage, which I think couldn’t be more wrong.

    If one chooses to go there, Polygamy or Polyandry is a more apt analogy.

  26. you’re right Shark, the history is there, it exists. I’m not advocating for ignoring it but we could shape it up a great exhibition/book/article/wake…then we can put it to rest.

    Let’s just say that after living and working in this island of corruption and violence, everything else seems easy.

  27. Lisa –

    In my book, an A+ for any piece of writing that alludes to the notion that we artists might be a pack of parasitic milksops, and thus at fault for our predicament. We’re institutionally bred with a sense of passive entitlement, and your harem reference is most appropriate — too often we concentrate our talents on looking pretty, in hopes that a handsome Moor will sweep us away to life of happiness.

    I think it’s great if hard-driven artists can turn their art into a living (with or without the help of talented professionals), but I’ve never believed that anyone EVER deserves a living simply because they work hard at their art. Living an artist’s life in the U.S. is the blessing-to-be-counted in itself. It’s a really weird yet fortunate privilege to be capable of supporting oneself with an outside job, and then to possess a cultural role at the same time. I know this is just an ASSUMED perspective, but it’s so much more useful than any self-centered perspective that prevents artists from realizing the folks they work with also have financial needs and personal goals.

    I often think of artists as sex-starved single dudes at the bar. They see their own lives as incomplete and missing something important, rather than standing firmly and confidently in their bachelorhood. Single ladies I know have a rough time with this — she may take one of these dudes in and cure what ails him, but that doesn’t necessarily create the sort of environment where she can personally flourish. Likewise, gallerists/dealers who could be crafting their practice into an interesting enterprise (whether it’s centered on business or aesthetics) must waste energy contending with a climate of neediness being incubated among artists.

  28. >an A+ for any piece of writing that alludes to the notion that we artists might be a pack of parasitic milksops, and thus at fault for our predicament. We’re institutionally bred with a sense of passive entitlement, and your harem reference is most appropriate — too often we concentrate our talents on looking pretty, in hopes that a handsome Moor will sweep us away to life of happiness.

    Oh my god, I hope that’s not how I came through. I hope the message is that neither side better feel entitled, or the relationship will aggravate the shit out of both the artist and the dealer and neither of them will get anything out of it,

    If the artist is expecting the gallery to cure what ails them, what a disappointment that will be, no doubt. But if the dealer, who, as Theo puts it, doesn’t work his ass off to support his many wives, then he is a letch and a bastard, as far as I’m concerned.

    It actually begs the question of whether a dealer, ANY dealer who is starting a ground up operation without additional funding is actually equipped to work on behalf of any more than a few artists.

    Maybe it should be, the more artists a dealer proposes to represent, the lesser percentage he/ she can fairly take from each one when a sale occurs. How much, afterall, can I really say I am doing for twenty people?

  29. >Maybe it should be, the more artists a dealer proposes to represent, the lesser percentage he/ she can fairly take from each one when a sale occurs. How much, afterall, can I really say I am doing for twenty people?

    Strike that thought. That would never work.

  30. Tony Fitzpatrick Says:

    I just love the word ‘milksop’– you don’t hear it often enough….let’s start using it as often as possible….

  31. >A key problem in the Artist/Dealer relationship is that it is always easier for a Dealer to find a new Artist to sell to their already existing list of Collectors, than it is for them to find new Collectors to buy work by the Artists they already represent.

    That’s true, and it causes all sorts of asshat behavior. It would be hard for a small gallery like the one I had, to introduce collectors (or would be collectors) to Tony’s work, for instance, at $10,000. for a small collage. I think we can agree that the work is well worth it, but a collector has just discovered my humble space, just learned my name and is not ready to drop that kind of money at my space. The collectors who are coming to spaces like the one I had are looking for artists who have little or no exhibition history because those are the artists they can afford.

    So, dealers who don’t have an eye on the long term do what I mentioned in the article. They skulk around MFA shows trying to spot newly forming talent and they regenerate their roster of new offerings rather than try to introduce the other artists to new collectors. It’s a very frustrating vortex.

  32. Perhaps an interesting solution would be dealers doing one time exhibitions with a wide range of work. From cheap, to, expensive – this would allow the dealer an opportunity to curate, end the consignment obligation -as only the work in the show would be held hostage so to speak, and end the whole problematic relationship thing….more like a one night stand than some tedious, played out relationship -of course all of the other dealers clinging to the old model would hate you -just as they fear people like Tony and me who simply do not require nor desire their services any longer.

  33. What is hilarious to me is that I am certain that “The Shark” and Michael Workman get actual physical boners whilst typing their comments onto a local art blog. I do believe it’s the highlight of their days!

  34. Tony Fitzpatrick Says:

    Lisa — they’re actually 18 thousand.

  35. >I just love the word ‘milksop’– you don’t hear it often enough….let’s start using it as often as possible….

    It really is a great word.

  36. Tony Fitzpatrick Says:

    I actually have marvelous dealers — several, in fact — once we got past the 50% thing — it was fine — mine take 35%– which I feel is an equitable figure– and 35% of me isn’t a bad deal for them. The only city I don’t have a dealer in is this one. — but New Orleans, New York, LA, London, Portland — I have dealers — and I get along just fine with them.

  37. Really?! “actual physical boners” …what a fucking tool. The art world.

    I dont disagree with you about dealers Tony -and have had any number of very good ones- though at this point in time whenever I do show/discuss what I’m doing with a Chicago dealer -it always comes with the disclaimer -that I am not looking for local representation -which I believe is your position as well-

    I think my idea of one time group exhibitions -with ads taken out in say, Artforum/Modern Painters might offer people like Lisa to play at a higher level than what she describes, while ameliorating some of the negatives-

  38. Michael Workman Says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever not had a boner. I use it to lift my coffee.

  39. >I actually have marvelous dealers — several, in fact — once we got past the 50% thing — it was fine — mine take 35%– which I feel is an equitable figure– and 35% of me isn’t a bad deal for them.

    That could definitely be a solution.

    Do you think it was the 50% issue that acted as the strongest deterrent to a healthy, prosperous relationship? Can you name maybe two other specific sticking points that you have experienced that make traditional representation a pain?

  40. Tony Fitzpatrick Says:

    Yeah — easy — the unwillingness to take adds and participate in the making of catalogs was a huge bone of contention when I was represented here — it would have been different had I not made these people money — but… I had — and getting them to take adds or spend any of their resources to further the visibility of the work was a huge consideration — at that point I felt I could do more for myself than they could — and I was right. they just wanted to take their 50% tariff and go home and open a bottle of pinot. This wasn’t good enough….The other consideration was knowing who my work was sold to — there was always this furtive secret thing about that — though they insisted on working with collectors I’d already cultivated on my own….. they didn’t want to be honest about information — and information is the art bidness is a more important currency than money.

  41. A problem with 50% is that an artist, if properly promoted and nitch carved out for him or her will outgrow that relationship. In the beginning of a career, an artist needs help in actually establishing a career. By his or herself, it’s doubtful that that person can command prices that will afford any type of income that one can live off of. To get a career started from a standing start, it’s not out of line for a dealer to ask for 50%.

    However, it becomes a problem as the artist grows and the dealer doesn’t continue to take the artist’s career to new levels. If that artist is constrained to an agreement where they can’t sell through other local dealers or the studio and owe 50% to someone not moving that person to the next level (major museum collections, major private collections, the history books), then it’s time for the artist to move on.

    A dealer can do just fine collecting 50% from a wide stable of artists and not work on building any careers. An artist working through a restrictive agreement like above can’t do anything and has to rely on day jobs. The work suffers. The career suffers. The artist winds up in the dust bin.

    No big deal for the dealer, because there is another sucker to take that artist’s place. If a dealer can’t do right by an artist in continuing moving someone up the ladder, perhaps a sliding scale of percentage works. I’d imagine that a successful artist whose career a dealer more or less created could still net that dealer a tidy profit at 10% .

    An artist/dealer relationship needs to be under constant scrutiny by both parties. It’s not a marriage until death do you part.

  42. BTW — Whoever came up with the term “stable” for artists should be shot (even though I used it). It implies that artists are cattle to be brought to slaughter.

  43. “I know that if I was an artist and had a sculpture, which I was willing to part with for $3,000., and someone said, ‘Hey, I can help you sell that and maybe get you some other shows and more exposure if you will allow me to add on $3,000. for my work…’ I would want to know precisely what their fucking work was going to be.” – Boyle
    Ms. Boyle, your example ignores the most important participant in the process, the collector. As a collector, I want to know how it helps me to pay double. As a collector, how does it help me that I am prevented from buying the same artist’s work from a dealer with lower overhead? Frankly it is not the 50% mark-up that is the bother as much as the fact that the mark-up 50/50 split is completely arbitrary. It doesn’t reflect any identifiable market condition or specific range of value-added services provided by the dealer to the client.
    Besides the unproven claim that a 50/50 split is fair, I would say that another problematic area is the insistence by dealers that an artist’s work be priced uniformly across all markets. Functionally, this means that the price of an artist’s work is determined by the market area with the highest cost-of-living. In effect, collectors in Des Moines end up paying New York prices.
    At this point in my career, I simply cannot afford to be represented in Chicago. This would force me to raise prices above what the market will bear in Indiana, Missouri, and Atlanta. Locally, I sell through my own network. Even collectors in Chicago can’t afford gallery prices.

  44. Okay, ads and exhibition materials. Both were elements traditionally expected of a dealer, most especially when the artist in question was selling well.

    So this leads me to what is the general feeling from artists on the role of art fairs? I feel like the mode of dissemination has shifted, and that some dealers think that rather than spend the money on printed material and ads, they would rather spend it on art fairs, where the artists work will be seen by a higher volume of people at once.

    Unfortunately, even though there feels like a big bang for the buck (10,000 people will see you art this weekend!) fairs don’t last, like a good catalog does. And the work is being seen alongside a trillion other things, so that sucks.

    Tony, and if there are any other artists insisting on more than 50%, do you think emerging artists (or established ones for that matter) should routinely insist on more when working on finding a gallery, and not work with the dealer if they don’t agree?

  45. BTW, I am both an artist and a collector.

  46. >However, it becomes a problem as the artist grows and the dealer doesn’t continue to take the artist’s career to new levels. If that artist is constrained to an agreement where they can’t sell through other local dealers or the studio and owe 50% to someone not moving that person to the next level (major museum collections, major private collections, the history books), then it’s time for the artist to move on.

    Word.

  47. Bill Dolan, you are right on all counts.

    Also, this:

    >I would say that another problematic area is the insistence by dealers that an artist’s work be priced uniformly across all markets. Functionally, this means that the price of an artist’s work is determined by the market area with the highest cost-of-living. In effect, collectors in Des Moines end up paying New York prices.

    True, but I can’t think of a single way to solve this issue. This model supposes that yes, an artist’s market price is set by the place with the highest cost of living, which in effect means is that if you’ve “made it” to a gallery in NY, then your market price should be higher anyway.

    Which is weird and arguable, obviously.

  48. Tony Fitzpatrick Says:

    Lisa — it depends on who needs who — when I first started in NY in the early 80′s — i chafed at the 50%– but I paid it — after a few shows sold out — I insisted on a new deal. Half is just not reasonable, even at the beginning– I don’t think anyone who’s never had a show before can righteously demand adds or a catalog or presence in a booth at an artfair– but once you’ve significantly buttered their bread– it’s time to insist on a reach-around– an add or a catalog– or both depending on how much scratch you’ve made them — it has to be reciprocal and equitable.

    As for art fairs — I have mixed feelings about them — they are the current model — and I would be lying if I said they weren’t a good thing for me — I’m one of thse who has benefitted immeasurably by having a presence in art fairs — My career has fairly been made by them . I do , however , think they’ve changed the way the public views art and artists — I think that the discourse has been devalued by proliferation of unnecessary fairs…. they used to be fun — now– for an artist– they’re more than a little creepy– being in the maw of the market-place is kind of like watching your parents have sex . Nowhere in the world is it easier to hate art dealers than at an art-fair — It is in this setting one realizes just how unctious and annoying these motherfuckers are. These things are prom-night for these douchebags– it’s like highschool with money.

  49. Tony Fitzpatrick Says:

    Please excuse my mis-spelling of ‘unctous’.

  50. In essense what I am saying is that the artists should be able to price their work based on what the artists need to cover their costs and profit, not on what the gallery/dealers need. That only makes sense. If a Chicago dealer needs a 2.00 mark-up because of their high overhead, that isn’t the artist’s fault. Nor is it the fault of another dealer that has decided that they only needs a 1.33 mark-up.

    The only way to determine what the true market value of a dealer’s services is to let collectors decide.

    If a dealer wants to monopolize an artist’s work all they have to do is buy it. How do you split promotion costs. Easy. The artist promotes the artist. The gallery promotes the gallery and its services (like return policies, framing services, provenance tracking, etc.) Dealers shouldn’t have to worry about artists selling from their studios if collectors are seeing real value for dealer services. (And if they aren’t offering any identifable value then maybe they should worry!) If the artist thinks the dealer is making too much profit, he can raise his prices, but if he raises them too much he might lose buyers in secondary markets.

    Just my thoughts on possible solutions.

  51. tony fitzpatrick Says:

    When a dealer profits off of your work — they should expend some resources to help your career move forward — catalogs, adds, a presence in a decent artfair — if they don’t do this — they are cock-blocking your growth and potential.

  52. I have no complains, my dealer does the work..

  53. tony fitzpatrick Says:

    I’m heartened to hear that Pedro ; other worthy artist’s should be so lucky….

  54. That seems like frying pan into the fire- going from one arbitrary system to another. What does it cost to make a work? Video work for example often takes time, but few physical materials. Paintings, even a 6 ft. square one costs what- 300 dollars? So one doesn’t have to get very far into the math before they stumble in that plan.

    And as far as profiting- an artist can then arbitrarily set the amount they need to profit, which in the case of some artists is way under or way over. It wouldn’t sell in the gallery. I have had the experience of asking artist to contribute to ideas about prices and it is often completely untenable.

    One thing to look deeper into is what “profit” is for a gallery. There is this idea, I think that if I sell something, I, as a dealer, am free to use this money to purchase any manner of fancy dinners and expensive clothing with it. I have not ever seen Tony Wight wearing Prada.

    If you sell the $6,000 sculpture, the artist leaves with $3,000.(subtract cost and time, pobsibly studio rent) The gallery leaves with $3,000, but will likely need to use it to place an ad, pay the rent on the gallery, take the work to art fairs, staff the gallery all days and a whole other host of things that leave the gallery with nothing even close to a profit. They certainly don’t make even a tiny salary for their efforts, at least not in the first many years. Even the ones who’ve been named here as having the right kind of program.

    So, while I appreciate that an artist should be involved in pricing, (I always talked with my artists about it, and arrived at an agreed upon number), if they’re working with a gallery, it has to do something for the gallery as well, or it just wont stay open.

    Tony, you might be good to answer this–I know that Pierogi has an exceptionally large group of artists listed. And that he splits with you 35/65, as you said. He also has a flat file program that I understand he makes a lot of sales with. Do these artists have solo shows too- the flatfile ones?

    The reason I ask is that if Pierogi, for example, is developing a way to sell work without exhibitions and with little resultant overhead, is this what helps buoy the operating costs? Do the artists mind being sold out of a drawer, without an exhibition?

    Maybe I have it wrong with Pierogi, but he has no outside financing and he’s doing well with this model- but can anyone say a little bit about the programs that are successful doing different percentages, and what they are doing differently that allows this to work well?

  55. Orange Palanquin Says:

    This is a time of war, Sharkie?

    Oh come on now, you sly territorial silverback. Can’t you enter into a discussion without heaping personal insults upon others? Your ability to out-caterwaul and out-insult everyone on this board isn’t an indication of your wisdom, or your understanding of the art world, or even evidence of your innate superiority. Your behavior simply reinforces a tired cliché of artist-as-enfant-terrible, the Promethean, Pollock-ian ur-creator who explodes conventions and immolates bourgeois sensibilities.

    Well done, sir. Congratulations on believing your own conventional mythology. You’ve even bestowed a superhero name upon yourself: The Shark.

    Your behavior doesn’t change the way people think. You’re not shattering cherished beliefs with your views because you’re not engaging in a well-reasoned discussion. Through bellowing and nutsack dragging, you’re discouraging the growth of a community you claim is so frail: the Chicago art scene. Who wants to but forth any effort to discuss ideas–let alone attempt to implement them–when the get yawlped down by one of the higher-profile members of they same community?

    Tell me what I should think about that. Explain my faulty reasoning. Shout me down, you mighty cartilaginous fish.

  56. Oops, sorry, my post was supposed to start with an excerpt from Chad’s:

    >In essense what I am saying is that the artists should be able to price their work based on what the artists need to cover their costs and profit, not on what the gallery/dealers need. That only makes sense. If a Chicago dealer needs a 2.00 mark-up because of their high overhead, that isn’t the artist’s fault. Nor is it the fault of another dealer that has decided that they only needs a 1.33 mark-up.

  57. Tony Fitzpatrick Says:

    Pierogi does exhibit a good many of the artists in the flatfile — in fact I started out in the flatfiles there — Joe Amrhein and Susan Swenson monitor the progress of the flat-file artists and the determine when they are ready for an exhibition — does every flat-file artist get or rate an exhibition — no– but it is still the most democratic model I know of. They are not supported by backers — they started Pierogi with the mission of building a community in Brooklyn and they succeeded by nurturing a core community of artists– a lot of names passed through Pierogi–
    James Sienna, Roxy Paine, Dawn Clements, Jane Fine,Mark Lombardi, Amy Silman, and Fred Tomaselli to name a few … Their mission was first and foremost to build a community and feature emerging artists.They never tried to immediately plant their flag in the market-place– they are very aware of the market, sure — it is a business. But the first mission of Pierogi was to foment and create a community. and they did it.

  58. Tony Fitzpatrick Says:

    also… Lisa — do you have any more of those Amy Jean Porter pieces? — I’d love to get more of those — they fucking kill me dead.

  59. …”do you have any more of those Amy Jean Porter pieces?”

    Just checked her out. Wow. Thanks Tony.

  60. Tony Fitzpatrick Says:

    Isn’t she great?…. their funny and beautiful and oddly elegant and mysterious…..love them.

  61. I agree wholeheartedly. I gotta see some. Thanks again.

  62. One of the reasons the art market is so wonky is because it lacks the controls inherent in other businesses that keep cost, price, and value relationships in line. Cost is the sum of all expenses needed to deliver a product to market. Price is the amount of money requested by the seller. Value is the benefit transferred to the buyer. One way or another, prices will be corrected by what collectors are willing to pay based on the perceived value of their purchase.
    Lisa, the justifications you give for the dealer mark-up consist almost entirely of costs incurred by the gallery: advertising, rent, wages, etc. Let’s say overhead costs are 20%. Then let’s say that anticipated profit on investment is a generous 15%. As a collector, I might think to myself, “Paying an extra 20% is worth it to not have to drive around and finding art that I like right here. And maybe 15% profit seems a bit high but I can understand that every business person needs to make a profit.” That’s a 1.35 mark-up. But we’re starting with the premise that the mark-up is 2.0 (on a consignment piece). So what is the value of the remaining .65 mark-up to the COLLECTOR.

    I’m not saying that the value isn’t there. I just don’t know what it could be.

  63. That is interesting about Pierogi, I’m going to try and find out more about it. I know a couple of other people who have worked with them, so I’m going to ask them about it.

    And yes, I do have some great Porters. I have sold all the works from the mammals series and horse series and no longer have the birds. But I have a gallery full of monkeys- the larger pieces. E-mail me if you want more info.- better images, etc.

    ljboyle@mac.com

  64. I just got to this discussion after vacation. Very interesting.

    Please don’t lump “Europe” all together, though — there are good places and bad. Most of Switzerland, large parts of France and Spain, the whole UK ouside London, e.g., are almost identical to Chicago (i.e. typically provincial — not the artists, the scene: few collectors, no interest by curators, one or so dictatorial “entities”, etc.)

    When a place is GOOD here, for artists, it is exactly for the reasons one would guess and for a few additional possibilities:

    Curators who regularly make studio visits. I get them ALOT. That happens seldom in Chicago.
    Collectors who also make studio visits and buy regularly. It happens frequently to me too (thank God).
    Public entities such as the Kanton (State) buying works, or the big banks (to whom I have sold) or the big firms, such as the chemical/drug corps in Basel, who buy lots of Basel artists.
    Germans can be very nationalistic — prefering to buy Germans (I think that can be quite good too).
    We Euro artists often refuse to sign exclusive gallery deals. I personally now go show-to-show. Around a show or sales that result from contacts made there, I share (even out of the studio). Others sales such as between shows to my “stable” of collectors” or to a museum or so, when it had naught to do with any gallerist, no way in Hell do I share. 0%
    In general 50/50 % IS actually the rule, but only when galleries do LOTS — catalogues, ads, career building, getting other galleries to show you, etc. etc. Otherwise, less. And “Otherwise” is indeed often.
    In general, here in Europe, for better or worse (often worse), curators are far more important than galleries than in the US

    The building of a community at Pierogi and many others does indeed seem to me to be the main point.

    I think Wesley’s point about big shows being done by Lisa-types, in lieu of galleries, is indeed a far too unexplored area.

    What any place needs to be a thriving art place is, first great, serious artists, but afterwards: curators who show artists of high quality WHO LIVE NEAR THEM; collectors who buy artists WHO LIVE NEAR THEM; critics who write about those shows and artists.

  65. Beyond that, as for galleries, I think a whole radically new model is needed, maybe like agents, I don’t know.

    Why don’t you become one of “those curators” Lisa?

  66. Mark, thanks for posting. Can you say a little more about your practice of going from show to show? Pros and cons. I would think it feels positive to be unfettered, but do you think you suffer any from less visibility that some artists in galleries have? Or have you passed that stage, and you feel well known enough and that people (new collectors, etc.) can easily find you?

  67. What a great phrase, by the way, “Young Artists Vocational Schools of Instant Success.”

    One thing that would be nice, Lisa (or Chris H), would be if you would put your name clearly at the top of the post, so it is obvious who and what it is (not a news piece, whatever). Such as “Lisa Boyle: What Have You…” Or in the first line or something. That way I know I would be certain to read them right away.

  68. Here’s a post by a very influential gallerist/blogger, Edward Winkelman, which discusses Lisa’s post and even quotes Tony Fitzpatrick (unnamed, unfortunately!)
    40-plus comments too.

    http://edwardwinkleman.blogspot.com/2008/08/selling-solo-vs-working-with-gallery.html

  69. Tony Fitzpatrick Says:

    Mr. Winkleman made some very good and salient points– I kind of feel like my comment was taken out of context a bit; because later in the thread, I feel like I stated my case for the gallery models that I do feel are more equitable for artists. i can understand him taking umbrage at the comparisons to the mob…. though knowing what I know about the workings of the art world; I feel, perhaps ,the mob should be more insulted for being compared to the art world.

  70. The mob is better organized and knows the value of the sugar as well as the stick.

  71. Is that the European version of the idiom “Carrot and Stick”? If so that is pretty cool.

    I think in the US we forgot what a carrot even looks like some days.

  72. Yeah — oops. I directly translated from German in my mind, without first searching in my dizzy brain for the normal English equivalent. For some reason I was thinking in German then. I like “sugar” as the counterpart better than “carrot” anyway.

  73. Lisa,
    Sorry it took so long for me to answer your good request, but I am overworked currently.

    I guess I’m more like “between serious galleries” than truly creative with a new alternative-to-galleries-idea. I have several galleries where I show regularly, and importantly have several private dealers who sell my stuff regularly. I have a certain freedom because I get regular curator visits and get into museum group shows a lot. The galleries that have approached me for the last while simply haven’t impressed me. They seem less interested in building a real relationship in terms of building (both our) careers and reps, than in simply getting “my” curators and collectors to come to them. I want someone who, first, I have FIRST found to be a person I like, at least enough to want to work with them, and second, one who will invest in my career (and their own) as much as I do — catalogues, fairs, “haunting” curators, “appreciating” collectors, etc. If you know what I mean. And gallerists who know about and love art as much as I do. I don’t have the time to babysit mediocre minds with little drive. I was impressed by your knowledge and commitment, let me add, so I’m certainly not dissing all galleries. I know several others who impress me too. I’m not (or at least not ONLY) egotistic; I just think you gotta do more than just rent a space. I’m still open for some new galleries, if they fit my small yet serious concerns I wrote above. Unfortunately I see these little met. I guess it is like relationships as you age. I have a wonderful wife and am in love, and have been for some 20 years. If that went sour, heaven forbid, I would not just rush out to anyone interested in me, which is what it appears to me so many artists do. I have seen and had great gallerists — it is getting more and more difficult to be one, though, I think —. I have had terrible ones. I’m going about it slowly. I have many shows, but until some of the gallerists appear to have what I’m seeking, I’m being a bit guarded. Yes, that means I don’t get as much attention as I feel my art deserves, but I get a lot of attention anyway. I suppose I’m kind of like a Cub outfielder, unfortunately. In the majors, but just a wee step above Triple A, in an artworld that (at least at this point in time) wants to push all midcareer artists (especially women) back down into the minors. So perhaps my approach puts me in a precarious position. But if I don’t see someone with strong commitment, strong personal drive, knowledge of art, and a real positive, pushy hutzpah, I don’t see the point in a “serious relationship.” I suspect that will change, but I’m not pushing it, I’m letting it happen. I’m more focused on my work at the moment, and have the luck to have the curator connection (unbelievable, if you know about my articles in both English and German criticizing curator dominance of the artworld — some hate me but a bunch still like me, or at least my art).

    I hope I see you in October!

  74. Nick Vahlkamp Says:

    I’m a career art dealer. 30+ years. It makes you old, especially if you’re working in the Midwest. I’m sorry to come to this post so late in the game, because I think it is important: to explore better ways for artist’s to market their works and better ways for dealers to develope collectors. Everything that’s been said is true, but it’s besides the point. Dealers blaming artists: self-infatuated,insecure,demanding, unreasonable,entitled. And Artits blaming Dealers: they’re elitist, leeches,panderers,money grubber control freaks. Both need therapy but neither are the problem. The problem is our generalized pop culture that values instant gratification & mind-numbing entertainment oriented values system that belittles all culture that isn’t fast,cheap and titillating (out of control, you might say). I strongly believe the remedy to an indifferent public, a lack of indigenous collector interest, a dearth of engaged press or media or any sort (reviews or criticism, whichever or whatever) Is education. Art Education. Art appreciation, studio art exposure, Design, I’ll even go a low on the totem pole as high-school “Shop” classes. If people have no idea how things are created, how they go from idea to product, they can’t possible appreciate your work. And I can tell you categorically that most people don’t have a clue.
    There is a whole sociology that goes into collecting art and this blog just skims the surface. It isn’t anyone’s fault. Artist’s who think it’s better in Europe would be surprised to find out how few good galleries exist outside the major capital cites. The truth is, Chicago and its plethora of gallerists willing to put their time and effort into their artits make most European cites look that much more impoverished. Check out artnet and see what’s doing in Munich, Lyon, Barcelona (yea, I know it’s very chi-chi, but the galleries are mostly tourist traps selling middle-brow kitsch). As Brandl says, there are exceptions,but few. Things are bad all over, and likely to get worse. But cheer up. We live in a free country. You can say what you want, think what you want, sell what you want. That means little to those who grew up thinking they could make a living as an artist, but for most people around the world,and throughout most of human history, that freedom has been an impossible dream.

  75. Excellent comment, Nick. I agree fully — yes EVEN with the “shop” comment. We need people who can see and appreciate and that is not achieved overnight. That would require, esp. when democratic, a real foresight on the part of politicians and educators — and having a lot to do with both, I dispair, frankly. But think we must keep plugging away.

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