art 2002/1

Artist and Gallery

by Viktoras Liutkus

What does an artist expect from a gallery, and a gallery from an artist? What should change in the legal, economic and social environment to better this relationship?
An anonymous opinion survey shows that today galleries in the country often fall short of the expectations by the artists, who would like the gallery staff to be qualified, innovative and flexible in communicating with artists and presenting their work to the gallery goers (art buyers) and spare no efforts seeking to sell their works. The artists expect a gallery to have a strategy and an image, while the relations with the artists should be based on contract and respect.
The galleries though, draw an optimistic picture of the situation. They claim all these aspects that artists find missing in their operations, are, in fact, characteristic of their work.
This discrepancy might possibly result from the fact, that artists have too big commercial expectations. Perceiving a gallery as a mediator between artist’s work and its buyer, in case of a failure to sell their work, the artists blame the management of the gallery for inefficiency.
Yet there I percieve some discrepancy of commercial interest. Artists tend to impose on the gallery prices for their works, ignoring the tendencies of the art market of which they mostly know close to nothing. Today the galleries typically accept what the artists offer, instead of setting their own conditions. Such a strategy does not take a lot of effort or fantasy. The galleries run by the institutions (such like the Artist’s or Photographers’ Association) are not encouraged for a creative approach, as their founders supervise their plans and profits.
Though the growing numbers of the galleries and their sustained operations seem to be sufficient to claim that art market exists in the country, yet it has been rather sluggish over the ten years of independence. Galleries and artists are not the sole players here. It is a process impacted by many factors, above all, the fragile economic situation in the country, the low consumption power as well as the taste for social realism still
embedded in the consciousness of richer layers of society.