Do Visual Artists Still Need Galleries? And, Outsider Artist in Texas

OVER the last few years, there’s been a lot of talk about disintermediation — removing the middle man. Digital technology makes this easier, and we’ve seen the self-publishing model expand for artists for authors, musicians, journalists and others. Will artists abandon galleries and try to reach collectors directly? Some already have, says a new story in the Art Newspaper.

younger artists who have grown up in the era of instantaneous communication ushered in by the internet and photo-sharing applications such as Instagram, are incredibly savvy about promoting their own work, says the London dealer Kenny Schachter. “One day technology could obviate the need for full, traditional gallery representation. There are unsigned kids… selling their art for hundreds of thousands of dollars…they’re not going to join some rinky- dinky gallery just for the hell of it.”

Going it alone, it seems works better for some than others. “I don’t think these models work,” London-based art adviser Emily Tsingou says. “Navigating the art market is very complicated. Galleries have experience doing this; they can control supply and demand with sophistication. There is a lot of price distortion and an artist’s studio wouldn’t necessarily know how to deal with that. It’s very hard to work alone.”

We’re wondering: What kinds of artists do best flying solo, and which ones benefit from a gallery and savvy dealer?

Dealer Leo Castelli with Jasper Johns

Dealer Leo Castelli with Jasper Johns

ALSO: The Texas-based outsider artist George W. Bush has begun to display his paintings of world leaders. “When I look at the paintings of George W. Bush, it’s like seeing an incubus on America, as freakish and off-putting as his presidency was,” Jerry Saltz writes in New York magazine. “Yet the art critic in me has to grant that if I stumbled on three or four of Bush’s paintings in a flea market by an anonymous artist, I’d snap them right up.” His full piece is here.

FINALLY: Today’s indie-rock pick is a West Coast band due to play Coachella, Foxygen. They are postmodern and pan-everything, jamming rockabilly, psychedelia, mellow electronica and garage rock into their latest album, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic. Sometimes, it’s all in the same song. Sure, it’s a pastiche, but one with real personality and great pop instincts. And the production is brilliant.

My favorite song of theirs is San Francisco: Here it is.

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  1. says

    Sloppy Journalism. I doubt there are any ” unsigned kids… selling their art for hundreds of thousands of dollars” whose careers didn’t first depend on a major gallery.

  2. says

    It’s undeniably true that saavy artists can use the new digital media to market their work. But most artists are not marketers, and unconventional, unestablished talents like outsider artists are not in the best position to succeed with either the new or old means of promotion. So the internet does not replace the gallery system, but it does give current artists who can set up their own sites more options, as with this example.. .

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