13 May 2017
Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of a contemporary art gallery? It may appear a serene and glamorous place to work when you enter, that is if you dare to pass the threshold, as there are plenty of myths that circulate about gallerists and their gallerinas (anyone remember that scene from Absolutely Fabulous?) The reality is no two days are the same. We are generally a friendly and honest bunch who don’t mind some physical work with a dash of DIY and a mountain of paperwork and a few intangibles such as creativity, inspiration and trust to boot. Let us give you a mini tour.
The main function of any gallery is to exhibit, promote and to sell original art work. Mounting shows regularly and rotating the contemporary art works of artists we represent is a major part of what we do and involves a selection process and several hangs before they all fit together. On a daily basis we are in contact with collectors, or on appointments to clients’ houses or in the gallery talking about art, planning future exhibitions and liaising with artists or organising shipments of new work. We never know who is going to walk in. It is a very sociable business that rarely ends at 5pm, there is always an exhibition to check out, an opening to attend or an art fair to dissect.
Dealing with artists
Artists form part of the gallery ‘family’ and we develop a lasting working relationship that often extends to the personal. Regular visits to the studio are a treat. Here we make our selection for prospective shows or see new work for the first time. We choose paintings and photography that we find interesting and most importantly that we would love to own ourselves. We mainly select artists for the gallery that have attained art degrees from some of the best universities and who have perhaps received institutional support from museums or curators. Keeping abreast of the artist’s development and exhibition schedule as well as boosting their morale when they are down, and ensuring their artwork arrives safely. Social media, succinct press releases and more in depth essays on the art all contribute to bridging this gap between the artist and prospective buyer.
Bernd Mechler presents Triggering Moments I and Triggering Moment II
Our relationship with clients and prospective buyers is equally cherished. Whether they walk off the street or regularly attend exhibitions or are long term buyers, we have an obligation to make sure we help everyone find a piece of contemporary art they love for their home or office. It doesn’t matter whether you have a lot of knowledge about art or have very little, we organise events and exhibitions that help bring each artist to people’s attention. These events or openings are often coupled with a talk by an artist or a tour of the current exhibition and help people connect on a deeper level to the images they see hanging on the walls. Galleries also extend some of these space to the home and spend time on appointments meeting with clients to work out their tastes and budgets and coordinate this with their wall space.
Much of it really boils down to striking a balance between showing what we feel is quality and compelling contemporary art and coping with the demands of running a profitable business in fluctuating economic and political climates.