Artists are a-changing
Why rising stars and established names are shopping around for new representation
By Gareth Harris and Charlotte Burns. From Art Basel Miami Beach daily edition
Published online: 02 December 2011
miami. Several galleries are using Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB) to show the work of their new signings. Thomas Houseago’s oversized sculpture Ghost of a Flea 1, 2011, is impossible to miss at Hauser & Wirth (L17). The Pace Gallery (C10) is displaying Adrian Ghenie’s evocative paintings, while Galerie Rodolphe Janssen (K9) features Betty Tompkins’s sexually explicit work.
“Loyalty to the gallery that helped to establish them will not prevent artists shopping around for new representation… expect to see more artists changing galleries this year,” The Art Newspaper predicted at the start of the year. The artistic merry-go-round certainly seems to have been gaining speed. The artist Tom Friedman left Gagosian Gallery (K12) for Luhring Augustine (K17), while Albert Oehlen has swapped London’s Thomas Dane Gallery (L3) and Luhring Augustine for Gagosian and Berlin’s Galerie Max Hetzler (M10).
Rashid Johnson is one of several artists to have joined Hauser & Wirth recently. Catherine Opie left Gladstone Gallery (H12) for Mitchell-Innes & Nash (C9), and the Belgian dealer Galerie Rodolphe Janssen signed up Jürgen Drescher and Sean Landers. Sadie Coles HQ (K22) now represents Steven Claydon, formerly with Hotel, London, while Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin are leaving Elizabeth Dee, New York.
“The whole system is in flux and the artists are always the first to notice,” says Marc Glimcher, the president of the Pace Gallery, which has recently added new artists besides Ghenie, who was formerly with Haunch of Venison. Pace has taken on the Russian artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov (see below), as well as Yoshitomo Nara, previously with Marianne Boesky Gallery (B13). Pace is expanding physically, too, with plans to open a major London space next year.
Other galleries are beefing up: a handful of dealers have opened branches or expanded their premises. These all need to be filled. Equally important is the rise of art fairs, so dealers are under pressure to supply fresh material.
“It’s always an issue—you are competing with galleries with more resources. You have to grow the gallery, and so far, so good,” says the young New York dealer James Fuentes, who is showing this week at the Nada (New Art Dealers Alliance) satellite fair. Boesky says: “Young dealers have to be able to mature with their artists.” As artists’ careers develop, they need their gallery to produce catalogues and mount major exhibitions. “Artists want to be in the history books. We now have an uptown gallery that enables us to provide a different context,” she says.
Equally important is the gallery’s reach: artists expect to move up the “collector ladder”. Money matters, after all. “The key to a good relationship with artists is transparency over money. We give a percentage to the artists as soon as the payment comes in,” says Gerd Harry Lybke of Eigen and Art (G7). Every artist-dealer relationship is different, from the cut of the profits and the contributions to production costs to the support an artist requires in planning exhibitions. In such an idiosyncratic business, “contracts are not worth the paper they are written on,” says one prominent London dealer. “The artists go where the money is. They want to go to galleries that have the big bucks to produce large projects,” says the secondary market dealer Christophe Van de Weghe (D6).
Some dealers are taking a creative approach. David Zwirner (K18) and Maccarone recently announced their joint representation of Carol Bove. Boesky will organise a joint show of Pier Paolo Calzolari’s works with Pace next April. “We’re cutting a door through our galleries to make one giant show,” she says.
The relationship between galleries and their artists has been compared to a marriage (with the risk of a divorce). “Isn’t marriage a business contract anyway?” asks the artist Alex Israel, who is showing at Almine Rech Gallery (C12).
Submit a comment
All comments are moderated. If you would like your comment to be approved, please use your real name, not a pseudonym. We ask for your email address in case we wish to contact you - it will not be
made public and we do not use it for any other purpose.
Want to write a longer comment to this article? Email firstname.lastname@example.org