Many living artists are shown at the Brooklyn Museum, and particularly on the ground floor’s Infinite Blue exhibit, where several Chinese and Korean artists’ works are featured in the context of a multinational survey on the significance of the color blue across cultures.
For better or worse, the prevailing distribution strategy of most dealers in the contemporary art market is to try getting their artists’ works into museums. The theory being that museums are the context for generating the greatest exposure for that artist, and the best opportunity for an artist to leave a legacy in art history.
Much of the opacity that define the market dynamics of the art industry are designed by dealers for dealers. The commonplace practice of not disclosing prices or even availability of an artist’s work to the public during gallery exhibitions affords dealers the theoretical opportunity to broker a private deal with a buyer who sits on a board or committee of a museum. That “influential collector” has the subsequent theoretical influence to loan that work someday to the museum or convince the museum to someday organize a retrospective for the artist.
While I don’t see anything inherently wrong with this distribution model, I do think too many artists and dealers pursue this strategy at too early a phase in the artists’ careers. No starving artist should ever have any business being selective about his or her market. Developing and expanding a collector base is a pursuit that pays the artists’ bills in the short term and increases buy-side participation for the overall art market in the long term, and should be the focus of any artist who still works a day job or are otherwise struggling to pay bills. Same goes for the dealers representing these emerging talents.
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