The art market is a complex and often opaque system in which many players interact with each other: Artists, collectors, curators, museums, auction houses and, of course, art galleries.
These play a central role in mediating between artists and buyers, but also in promoting and building artistic careers. But how do art galleries actually work? And what challenges and opportunities arise for artists seeking access to the art market?
Art galleries are essentially commercial enterpriseswho purchase or commission works of art from artists and sell them to collectors or institutions. They usually charge a commission of 40 to 50 percent of the sale price. However, art galleries are not only sellers, but also producers of cultural value. They organize exhibitions, publish catalogs, arrange contacts with curators and critics, participate in art fairs, and support their artists financially and logistically. Thus, they have a great influence on the visibility and success of artists in the art market.
The beautiful in art is always true, but the true is not always beautiful.
~ Ernst Rietschel
However, access to a renowned art gallery is not easy for many artists. Competition is fierce and the selection criteria are often subjective and dependent on the taste and strategy of the gallery owner. In addition, there is a strong hierarchy among art galleries based on their prestige, turnover and network. The top league consists of a few globally active mega-galleries like Gagosian, Hauser & Wirth or David Zwirner, which have several locations and represent the most famous and expensive artists. Among them, there are a large number of medium and small galleries that specialize in certain regions, genres or niches.
For artists, this means they often have to adapt or compromise to find a gallery that fits them and is willing to represent them. This can limit their artistic freedom or compromise their authenticity. They are also dependent on the loyalty and commitment of the gallery owner, who may not always work for their interests or pay enough attention to them. Last but not least, they are also affected by the fluctuations and crises of the art market, which can affect the demand and prices of their works.
To overcome these challenges, some artists are looking for alternative ways to present and sell their art. These include, for example, online platforms such as Artnet, Saatchiart or Singulart, which enable artists to contact potential buyers directly and offer their works without intermediaries.
Others use social media such as Instagram or Facebookto increase their reach and build their own fan base. Still others join forces with other artists and organize exhibitions or events on their own, such as craft or designer markets, to make their works accessible to a wider audience.
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