August 03, 2006

The Art Market

W Series 5, Serigraph, 1981

Do you ever look around you and wonder what you are doing in the middle of this art ocean? Since my addiction to the Internet I am so aware of the vast numbers of "artists" out there, I have to wonder how so many manage to survive. The competition is overwhelming... and a lot of it isn't even very good! Did I mention that I'm not fond of crowds????

J and I visited a lawyer's office the other day, entered the lobby and viewed a large, abstract diptych... a very mediocre piece, weak and unimpressive. Upstairs in the office waiting room, more run of the mill stuff including one large canvas that I strongly suspect came from a Holiday Inn mill sale. Turns out one of the lawyers is an artist (isn't everyone?) and included her forged wire sculpture (looked like a Larry Bell stick figure take-off.) Anyway, there was much discussion about "art" and I asked if they knew NorDys Gallery (my local rep) and no, none of them had heard of the gallery which is one of the better wall spaces in this town! Though only five years old, it's received lots of good publicity in the local papers and radio, but these moneyed, cultured, educated uptown people drew a complete blank! This just blew me away.

I'm thinking there must be a very small percentage of qualified (having disposable income) customers who actively seek art to buy. A VERY small number. This midsize southern city features at least 6-10 impressive galleries that seem to be on sure footing... and they share a microscopic database of clientele. And there's the recent announcement that another Fortune 500 company will be leaving the city... leaving only one where there were six just a few years ago. Ummmm... this doesn't look good for local sales. I'll be a featured artist at Lagerquist Gallery (Atlanta) in Sept, perhaps I should beef up my inventory and plot some strategy here...


KJ said...

Pardon if this post smacks of elitism... I don't mean to be a critic or judge the work of others so open handedly, it's that crowd phobia thing, I think... KJ

Anonymous said...

I didn't think you were sounding elitist. From where I sit you are right on. Not being at that level myself, it is none the less irritating to see shlock art in places of preceived importance. Most corporate buildings, as you know, are done by "designers", who are interested in the art only as decor, and also in their own bottom line (which is as it should be because they are in business to make money).
Knowing a few people with that disposable income, and seeing their "taste in art" reinforces your microscopic database of clientele theory. Somewhere I was reading that less than 4% of our population has ever set foot in an art gallery, and even fewer have purchased anything. And yes, the internet does rub our faces in the fact that everyone is an artist, and many, many, are more skilled or better marketed. (Something I have to work on in the next few years.)

Linda S.

Martha Marshall said...

In my humble opinion, we are experiencing a general dumbing down of culture everywhere you look. I have long since "gotten it" that money doesn't buy culture (nor class.) If we don't want to get depressed, we'd best not go there.

I am also aware that a huge percentage of art purchases are done by designers and corporate art consultants. For myself, I'm saying why not be part of that. It beats many, many other things I've done for a living.

Annette said...

I had a call yesterday with the question, "Are you in the article about the artists?" I hadn't been interviewed so I was sure I wasn't. I got a copy of the weekly creative paper and found the feature, "Fame in Their Future: 18 artists poised to make their mark on the world" Some of the artists deserve to be listed; others will simply get a swelled head from being included. The premise was a good one, to urge the reader to 'sit up and take notice,' but most will only notice those who are left off.

KJ said...

I apppreciate the feedback and to know it's not just my current state of mind that questions. I think where I faltered, as so many of us do, is in the area of self promotion. I've trusted my reps to do it for me. My bad.

Shan said...

I've read the statistic that 7% of the American population buys original art. Not sure if it's true but it sounds right. I'd bet a lot of these art buyers are artists themselves.

I get irked when I watch HGTV and see designers showing viewers how to make "do it yourself" art. Creative pursuits are an important part of life and I encourage everyone to be creative. But an art piece, by my definition, needs to have a certain amount of intention behind it. I mean if you spray paint a mini-blind and weave some sticks through it, because a designer instructs you to do so, you have created a decoration, not art.

People often find art intimidating. I'm always surprised and amazed at how many people really do want to learn more about it and I think it's up to us artists to fill in the gaps. I love it when a first time art buyer purchases a piece of my art.

meno said...

i know some people who are artists, and when i go to their houses i am pleased to see that they have their art on the walls, even if i don't care for the art.
What i really don't care for, is going to someone's house and seeing the Thomas Kincaid "Painter of Light" painting over the fire place with a spotlight on it.

Does that make me elitist?

Juan Bielsa said...

I think we, THE ARTISTS, must be the vanguard and the light of our mediocre world. Yes, we are ELITIST (although compassionate as well). We are elitist in the sense that our society must look to us as the GUIDE to a future still full of beauty and significance.

I speak ironically and, at the same time, I'm completely sincere. We are the future, WE, THE ARTISTS. Yes, we are not, at the moment, megamillionaires, but we are an important part of the solution to all the Lebanons and Chernobyls of the world. Without us, our society has a future of TV and futility. Yes, I repeat, we certainly are elitist, but it is a noble elitism, we are not at all superior to anyone, but we possess A LIGHT, and without this light our world has a poor future.
I'm sorry, I'm writing in a pedantic style, I'm aware of that, but nevertheless I'm SINCERE.

We are important. Our art-gallery is the entire world. We must be CONFIDENT in ourselves. In ancient Chine, painting was the most important of arts. And there are so few true ARTISTS...

Juan Bielsa