Algirdas Griškevičius. Senamiesčio sonata
Drobė, aliejus, 90 x 60, 1998
Galleries: Declarations and Practice
by Ieva Dilytė
and preservation of contemporary Lithuanian art is one of currently
most disputed issues. A discussion initiated by the Artists Association,
Artist and Gallery (28 02 2002), focused on art galleries.
The debate on the issues of the art market was expected to find ways
of harmonizing the interests of artists, galleries and art consumers.
Yet it is obvious that private galleries and those run by the institutions
have little in common. The latter group needs immediate restructuring,
as their operations fall short of actual art market demands.
The collaboration between galleries and artists in Lithuania is clouded
by uncertainty. The current number of art galleries in Lithuania is
50 with additional several virtual galleries. In theory, private and
institutional galleries seek the same: to sell works of art, yet the
galleries run by the institutions seem to exist in a limbo, struggling
between the market laws and the institutional strategy. The latter is
often driven by the curators ambitions to create an image and
fails to envisage the venues for commercial success. Of course, in a
full-blooded art market, commercial galleries should not exclude the
existence of those who perform a representational function. The option
of priorities, whether artistic, commercial, educational or a combination
of these, is for the gallery (or an institution) to make.
A scapegoat for their failures, the artists and the galleries find in
a sluggish Lithuanian art market, which, in turn, depends on art consumers
purchasing power. To invigorate this market, it might be useful to look
at Western experience. One of inspiring examples could be SOFA, organized
in New York City and Chicago annually, which features USA and European
galleries. This year the event is being organized with New Yorks
Crafts Museum and Sothebys NY, and will include a week of applied
arts and a wide educational program. It is a mass event targeting both,
nonprofessional viewers and specialists.
None could compose a universal gallerys success recipe, but clear
priorities and guidelines should provide a shot in the arm on the road
to success as would also certainly do consistency in declarations, aims
and means to achieve them.