speculators. They want their artists’ works to find stable, loving homes.
Waitlists have formed for big name artists like Jeff Koons and for young hot
shots like Harold Ancart, so becoming a gallery-going regular is the most
important step in acquiring art. This will open you up to the “back rooms” of
galleries. These private showrooms provide exponentially more options for
your clients beyond the exhibition on view.
The price for art can be infinite—anyone for a $179 million Picasso? Talk to
your client about the artwork budget early. Do they want to build the room
around a unique work? Or do they just want to complement the style of the
room and the furniture within?
Knowing your budget guides your search, in a very literal sense. Galleries
at similar levels of the market clump together geographically. For example, in
New York the Upper East Side hosts very established artists and price points
can be at $200,000 and up. In Chelsea you’ll find mid-career and established
artists with price points at $20,000 and up.
Being aware of your own geographical market zones will help you to find
the best for your buck without going overboard on your budget.
Contemporary art can be “ugly.” Sometimes the idea is the artwork, and
sometimes, this is not pretty. The new Whitney Museum’s fantastic first exhibition
America is Hard to See (up through Sept. 27) has many works that go above
and beyond in confirming this (see page 32). But don’t be afraid. It is still
okay to discuss beauty in art. What clients want to live, dine, or work with
is different to what they may find interesting in a museum or gallery setting!
Galleries and artists appreciate customers who are interested in and want
to talk about a work’s content and historical relevance, not simply how it
will fit within a space.
In his most recent series, Malegría, Puerto Rican-born, Brooklyn-based
painter Sebastian Vallejo creates expressive abstractions. The work is beautiful.
However it becomes more meaningful when you understand that Vallejo’s
practice is a response to his heritage. He breaks away from his artist father’s
figurative style; he works to capture the light of the Caribbean. Painting with
his hands there is immediacy to his mark making. In the spirit of Duchamp
with his ready-mades, and Pollock with his action painting, Vallejo is constantly
playing with the idea of opposing forces—joy and happiness vs. discomfort
When you allow layers of complexity into the discussion (biography,
historical influences, physical and material strengths, and limits) the result
will be a more meaningful acquisition. And whenever possible, spend time
looking before anything is purchased. Art is a long-term acquisition, but 99
percent of the time, our “first love” isn’t who we commit to spend our lives
with. The easy appeal of what initially catches the eye can lose its luster.
Find something that will engage on many levels.
Accompany clients to galleries, art fairs, biennales, and auction previews.
Use your relationship with a gallery to take works on consignment. For the
cost of transportation you can oftentimes install a work in the space for a
week-long risk-free trial.
Works on paper love to be framed under glass and installed in an interior
corridor. They don’t like sunny window-filled rooms. The same goes for
Video art can activate a retail space 24/7. LA-based Petra Cortright
makes videos in which she plays with her own image through the filters of
Face Time. These works
are odes to millennial
vanity. The soundless
videos are fun, weird,
and strangely watchable.
Installed in a window,
or projected on a
wall, they would draw
attention at all hours.
Paintings are great
in restaurants. The scale
of work on canvas can
be immense, creating
an opportunity for a
unique and dramatic
feature. The recent
controversy over the
removal of Picasso’s Le
Tricorne from the Four
shows how inextricably
linked artwork and
space can become in a
patron’s mind. Thinking
of paintings on a more practical level, the canvas support provides a subtle
sound dampener. Even better than this, Matias Cuevas paints on carpet.
His mastery of fire and color staining alchemically transforms an everyday
material into a thing of beauty (see image above). The dense nature of the
carpet could absorb sound and its rich fibered hues could add interesting
texture to a room.
If your client isn’t located close to a major city—or even if they are—there are
some really well-regarded online options for browsing and buying art:
w Artsy: The “Pandora” of art, it is a great way to begin your search.
Expect to fall down a few rabbit holes looking at different styles,
mediums, or artists. Artsy will directly connect you to galleries to buy.
w Artspace: Sorts works by medium, price, size, color, orientation,
region, style. You can purchase through the site.
w Paddle8: Gives you immediate access to hot young artists. It’s best
to use Paddle8 if you know which artists you are hunting for. Purchase
is possible through site-hosted online auctions.
w Exhibition A: Run by finger-on-the-pulse gallerist Bill Powers, and
his wife Cynthia Rowley. The site works with artists to commission
editioned artworks available for purchase.
➤ continued from page 32
Matias Cuevas, Almost There #30, 2014
Carpet, carpet trim, paint thinners, fire, acrylic, and bucket
imprints on custom made stretcher, 60 x 84 inches