Friday, May 14, 2010

More about galleries and the artistic intention.

Edward Hopper from the's great online museum. They are a valuable resource. Go check em out. The link is in my sidebar. I am as always, thankful for their allowing me the use of their images.

I have excused myself from a dinner party and am typing away. I will make it short but I did have a few more thoughts about what we have been discussing. Thank you all for all the comments. I am responding in part to some of those.

Several respondents were somewhat incensed at the idea of painting for the market. There is nothing that says you have to. In fact the gallery is hard to get into. There are many different sorts of galleries, and if you do edgy or highly personal work there may be a gallery that is looking for you. But even they, if they want to stay in business, are trying to find things they think their clientele will want. If their client wants edgy and personal, that's what the dealer will look for.

I am lucky in that I am doing the kind of work that I want to do and there are galleries that can sell it to some fraction of their clientele. Therefore for me the goal is to do it as well as I can. My heroes, Metcalf, Hibbard, Seago were all professional painters who showed in commercial galleries. My interest is in picture making. I am making beautiful things for people to hang in their homes. That's my goal. It may not be yours, nor does it have to be. But that is the kind of artist I always intended to be. I don't feel like I have compromised a whit.

However if you are doing art that is intensely personal you may decide the whole gallery thing is too restrictive( I don't as I said) but you may want to paint for yourself alone, or even market your own art. But if you want to be out in the gallery world you will have to understand what the deal is. I am personally very comfortable with it and I enjoy working with my dealers, I enjoy knowing them and we operate together for both of our benefit. It is unrealistic to fault a dealer for being concerned with sales and profit, just as it would be unfair for them to be opposed to my caring about the quality and integrity of my art. You wouldn't want a dealer who didn't care about sales would you? That's their piece of the puzzle. In order to do that they must be business like. They are the sales end of the operation. I am the production end, the factory floor.

This conversation flowed from a letter from an artist who wanted to do better in galleries and hoped for some advice on how to do that. They were not being compelled to be in a gallery, they wanted the benefits to be had from being in the marketplace. I am unashamedly a capitalist, and the gallery world is a capitalist place. I am an art entrepreneur. That's what is going on out here. You don't have a problem with the Rolling Stones getting paid well do you? They are doing it for pay too. So did Hendrix. Making a living with your art is not necessarily incompatible with making good art. In fact I think the process has made me a far better painter. I need to paint well in order to eat. An old artist once told me " Do you know what kind of paintings sell best? Good paintings!"

10 comments: said...

I do like cat fur - especially on the skin of my cat.

Some of the confusion in the previous day's comments may be stemming from the terms being used interchangeably and ambiguously.\

First of all, I like Philips term
"idiosyncratic" art - defined as an individualizing quality or characteristic of a person or group, often expressing eccentricity or peculiarity. Idiosyncratic symbols which mean ONE thing for a particular person. This type of art does not have a wide market but has meaning to the artist.Flaming dog doo!

Personal - of or pertaining to a person, or belonging to a person. This is one way in which an artists owns the art that they create , by putting themselves into the painting and bringing a humanistic aspect to the art. For example - painting a beach scene because your happiest moments are along the shore -this make the painting personal but also resonates with other people. It's not universal because not everyone has even seen a beach.But personal art has meaning person to person. It does have a market.

Universal-of, relating to, extending to, or affecting the entire world or all within the world; worldwide: a painting reaching a deep, effective and affective note common to each and every human - let's say a painting that evokes love, fear, longing, happiness, sadness etc.

You may not even like the painting but you can feel it as it was meant to be felt by the artist because it has found a universal quality.

Perhaps the greatest and long lasting art is the art that is "good art",personal AND universal. Long ,live the Sistine Chapel!

I'm not that kind of a person, capable of making that kind of great art but I sure do like trying in my own personal way.

billspaintingmn said...

Capitalist?! Jimi Hendrix was in it for the money?
Say it ain't so Stape!
I like to think that Jimi was a pioneer in his art. A true frickin'
genius. He broke the rules in many ways.(Strung his guitar backwards)
His passion for life and music was
key to much of it.
Yes, he did have to show up, and perform, and probably got High with a little help from his friends
The press wants us to think he
just 'turned on' and 'turned off'
but with this bit of conversation
about art, I think it's a great analogy to consider, Did Jimi and Earl Nightingale meet in a back alley somewhere and plan all this?!
(ha) I'll bet Jimi jammed all the time to get himself to where he was.
So paint, paint, paint.
I do think the Stones where in it for money, power, and all that bad
boy stuff.

And another thing Stape, One important factor not mentioned(yet)
is destiny. I think God is in control, and we're merly pigment on his palette! so be a true hue

Anonymous said...

This discussion has been highly interesting. I think that the initial idea of laying out the mechanisms of the art market in general and the galleries in particular, is noble. For me though, the division, and the common confusion, between the "personal" and the "individual" in art has sparked thought patterns that has been (for me) very enlightning. How often have I not heard "individual" artists bash their "personal" colleagues without understanding the need for such behaviour? With the division between these two terms, the valuation of these terms is excluded. What´s left is a clearer idea of the consequences of your way of painting.

I guess what I really wanted to say is, thank you all for making me see this clearer. Stapleton first and foremostly, but also the rest of you.

Deborah Paris said...

Yes, thank you Stape for hosting this discussion and adding your own common sense and insightful point of view.

And for posting that killer Hopper (who by the way painted what he wanted to paint and also enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with his dealer).

I too enjoy the happy coincidence of what I love to paint having some appeal to a segment of the art buying market. I appreciate your honest assessment of what you (and I) do and the role dealers play in that process.

willek said...

Its jist a kommunykayshun thang... innit?

Stapleton Kearns said...

I thought I presented personal as having two qualities, bot negative and positive. Perhaps idiosyncratic could be a name for one of the. If I varnish my cat will that stop its shedding?

Stapleton Kearns said...

Jimi Hendrix evidently strapped the guitar on and wore it all day, even in the bathroom. He and Earl were close, played mixed doubles with those twins from the Lawrence Welk show.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. It has been a real active discussion topic.

Stapleton Kearns said...

The whole gallery thing seems like no big deal to me. Some people are really tortured by the idea, I think once you get into that world it is fine.

Stapleton Kearns said...

You sound like you have a gerbil in your mouth. Spit that one out and try it again.