Thursday, March 26, 2009
Vanity galleries don't make the world more beautiful
Almost every week I receive emails from galleries all over the world, telling me what wonderful art I make and 'offering' me an exhibition. Sometimes a solo, sometimes a group exhibition. None of them are original in their manner of approaching and I recognize them immediately... the so called 'vanity galleries'.
A vanity gallery is a place where an artist can hire space by the ft2/m2. It doesn't matter if your art is good, bad, ugly or not original at all.. the only thing that matters is that the gallery owner gets the money for the walls and space. This way the gallery already covers its costs and often they even already have profit without selling anything. It has nothing to do with love for art, or being passionate about it. If the gallery sells one of the art works the artist has to pay commission on top of the rent.
A good gallery presents a varied or specialized collection of art, and works with a permanent group of artists in whom they believe, completed with emerging artists that they've 'discovered'. Sometimes during an exhibition nothing is sold, or it takes some time before it starts rolling. This is the risk that a gallery has to take and that is why they do not accept just any artist who walks in. The gallery has to fall in love with the work AND the artist. The work should not be competitive with the artwork of the artists the gallery already represent and it should complete the excisting collection. An artist should be loyal to the galleries he works with. When the gallery sells a piece of art, the artist pays commission to the gallery. In fact a gallery and an artist are business partners and need each other. The artist does what he's best in: creating wonderful and unique art. The gallery specializes in representing the artists work in the best possible way. 1+1 = 3
In my opinion vanity galleries do not benefit the art world nor the artists nor the art lovers. People who just get acquainted with art can be confused. By entering a gallery, they cannot see if the gallery is a serious one, or a vanity gallery. If you're an art lover and you're experienced, you can immediately recognize a vanity gallery. Most of the time, what is shown is not the best art in the world. In fact, what is shown, is art made by people who can afford to pay to exhibit OR by artists who really do create good art but don't know yet that this is not the right track to follow. They already invest a lot in their canvas, paint, website, studio rent, transport of the paintings etc... So it's not appropriate to pay to exhibit on top of all that.
I advise emerging artists not to do business with vanity galleries. It doesn't help you to get any further.