February 28, 2004

Sausage Factory

A friend sent this article to me this morning. I swear, my nom de plume is not Lorenzo.

But it is not email overload that has Lorenzo hiding behind a pseudonym. Like most artists, he had long worked with a ?primary? dealer, who brokered business dealings with all the other galleries. But as Lorenzo?s market took off and more people wanted to show his work, things turned tricky. ?It got to be a real problem,? he explains. ?My primary gallery kept making things too contractually difficult for the others?like demanding 25% consignment fees, which makes breaking even very hard unless they sold out the show. And the primary gallery kept saying, ?We can sell your work. Why do you need all those other galleries?? They would put pieces on hold instead of letting other galleries show them.? Finally, he terminated the relationship, cutting himself loose at a critical moment in his market?s development.


And that's just one facet of many others in the article. It's pretty spot-on.

....Ok. I don't want to get too chatty about stuff like this, but there are a couple of facets that this article could consider, still.

One is that in general, every gallery has a two year rotation for their shows. If a gallery is like a piston, the question is what kind of engine propells your studio/vehicle. Moped or V-12?

Another is that each dealer has a limited pool of collectors to rely on. The number does change of course, but for all practical purposes, it is a limited number. Once you sell to all who are inclined to buy, it takes time for the dealer to tend their garden. Two years sounds about right.

Another is that we have been in a recession, so having a widely flung team lessens the load on each dealer. Spread the load. It's a big decision to commit yourself completely to your work, foresaking other secondary income. It's best not to lay a guilt trip on a single dealer.

And if the boom resumes and demmand rises, what happened to the increased value that comes with rarity?

In a classical model of Primary representation, the Primary dealer would ensure the artist kept active in the studio through hell or highwater. Stipends, I don't like them. Few people, if any can assure such as this, as Castelli did. And if they did (like ACE gallery's famous contracts), who could avoid the abuse of power that is likely to ensue? An artist has to trust his primary a great deal to let the entirety of their money and professional information flow and screen first through an intermediary. That's why I work directly with all my dealers.

Posted by Dennis at February 28, 2004 2:57 PM

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