Saturday, March 04, 2017

A collection of bad things...

Bad things galleries do to artistsUnethical galleries will take in a piece of artwork by an artist, and when the price is discussed, the gallery says: "What's the price?" and the artist says: "$1000" The gallery nods OK and the artist leaves, knowing that if sold, he'll get $500 (most commercial galleries charge 50% commission -- in NYC some are as high as 70%). The gallery then sells the piece, but for $2,000, sends the artist a check for $500 and pockets the extra $1,000. That is why artists should insist on having a contract with a gallery, and the contract must specifically address that the artist will get 50% of the actual sale price.

Bad things artists to do galleries

A reputable gallery gives an artist a show, and goes through all the various expenses associated with doing so (rent, electricity, staff salaries, publicity, ads, post cards, opening reception catering, etc.) So far the gallery has put forth a considerable investment in presenting the artist's works. An interested novice collector meets the artist at the opening and expresses interest (to the artist) in buying some of his artwork. The artist, wishing to stiff the gallery for their commission says: "See me after the show and I'll sell it to you directly and save myself the gallery commission." This is not only unethical, but it's also guaranteed to ruin the artist's reputation in the city, as these things always come out in the wash, and soon no gallery will exhibit any work by this artist.

More Bad Things Artists do to GalleriesThis actually happened to a gallery in Georgetown, in Washington, DC in the 1990s:

Back when there were eight galleries in Canal Square, one of the galleries had given a show to a local -- at the time "hot" artist -- who was a painter (I say "was" because I haven't heard of the dude in years).

The artist was supposed to deliver and help hang all the paintings on a Wednesday, in order to be ready for the Georgetown third Friday openings. He did show up on Wednesday with about 50% of the work, and brought some more (freshly finished) on Thursday and to the gallerist's horror, even brought some more on Friday, and even as the show was opening at 6PM, was adding the last painting touches to several of the works.

Needless to say, several of the oils were actually wet when people starting showing up. On opening night, it was crowded, and someone apparently rubbed against one of the paintings and smeared some of the oil paint.

Now the gallerist was faced with a very irate person, demanding that his suit be cleaned (it eventually had to be replaced) and with a furious artist, demanding that the gallery pay him in full for the damaged painting.

If I am to believe the gallerist, the case actually went to court, where the judge threw it out.

More Bad Things Galleries do to Artists

This has happened to artists several times in my memories, both in the US and in Europe:

Artist and gallery owner agree to do a show of the artist's work. The gallery, like many all over the world, also has a side business as a framing shop, and tells the artist that they will take care of the framing.

The artist agrees on a handshake, and never asks for a contract, or costs, assuming that the gallerist knows what he is doing.

On opening night the artist shows up and is not too keen about the framing, but it's too late for any real discussions, as people are beginning to show up. Several pieces are sold, and the artist is very happy with the opening.

At the end of the show, the artist gets a letter in the mail from the gallery. Excited to see the payment for the sold work, the artist opens the envelope and finds a framing bill.

The bill details the cost of the framing, substracts from that amount the artist's commission from the sold work, and bills the artist for the remaining amount, as framing is very expensive.

Anger follows...

More bad things that (a) galleries do to artists or (b) artists do to galleries or (c) galleries do to collectors
here, and here and here.

Bad things galleries do to art collectors...

Our area, like most major metropolitan areas, is peppered with stores that have the word "gallery" in their business name, but are very much far removed from what one would consider a true art gallery.

You will always find them in high traffic areas; main thoroughfare streets where "real" galleries could never afford the rent. You also often find them in malls.

I am speaking of the places that sell mass produced decorative works, either by
Kinkade wannabes, Spanish-surnamed painters and worse still, the following scam:

Some of Picasso's children inherited many of the plates used by Picasso to create his etchings. Since them, some of those plates have been printed ad nauseam by the current owners, and are sold around the world as Picasso prints.

And then, to make matters worse, some of the plates are signed "Picasso" by his offspring owner, who is (of course) technically also surnamed Picasso.

The sales pitch, which is not technically illegal, but certainly unethical, goes something like this:

"This is a real Picasso etching, printed from the original plate and it is signed."

Note that they never state who signed the print.

Hapless buyer purchases the print for a pretty good chunk of change, takes it home and brags to his friends about his signed Picasso.

This will be a hell of a mess for the
Antiques Road Show experts to detangle in a couple of hundred years.

And don't even get me started on the
great Dali art fraud.