Gallery mortality alert

Nicole Klagsbrun, who closed her Chelsea gallery last year

Nicole Klagsbrun, who closed her Chelsea gallery last year /Photo: Christopher Burke

Long ¬†directories of open galleries and the recent overview of the gallery scene in the¬†New York Times to the contrary, your trusty sentinel will continue to conduct his ongoing gallery death watch. Many seem to believe lately that all we’ll have in the future are buyers with jet lag from art fair hopping or carpel tunnel from Web surfing, followed by the writing and mailing of checks. The Internet has been good to me, in that regard, now and then, and may bring buyers in the future, thanks primarily to Art Brokerage, but a solo show in a gallery is for me the equivalent, in music, of a great album, as opposed to a single. Where are the White Albums, the One Man Dogs, the Evil Empires of our day? Well, actually, some bands, like Spoon, do produce integrated sets of music on LP. Gimme Fiction, for example. Fox Confessor Bring the Flood, which is all of a piece, from Neko Case. The album as a coherent unit of creative effort survives. And great solo shows, like Susie MacMurray’s at Danese, are still happening. I’d hate to lose them. The best shows are greater than the sum of their parts. The museums we will have always with us, anyway, right? But the loss of galleries is just another loss of Main Street mom-and-pop commerce in favor of the big box warehouse. This article tries to finger the culprits, but it’s pretty much everything: our top-heavy ancien regime income distribution (that wouldn’t be a pejorative historical reference if the super rich woke up to what’s needed), the Internet, the art fair, and, I think, the way art has tended since, well, Manet, addressing itself to a more and more exclusive, insular audience. Art is itself part of the problem when it’s a cerebral, clever, recherche exercise addressed to a tiny coterie of initiates and forgets that mysterious beauty is Job One.

From the piece by Anthony Haden-Guest: “One truism is that the market now governs the art business as never before and that the market is subject to the 99/1 effect, as most markets seem to be these days. What I mean by this is that there is generally one percent of winners in a market and then there is everybody else.”


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