Art gallery

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An art gallery is a room or a building in which visual art is displayed. Among the reasons art may be displayed are aesthetic enjoyment, cultural enrichment, or for marketing purposes. While "gallery" continues to be used in the name of institutions for the study, preservation, and restoration as well as the display of art, these additional functions identify the institution as an Art museum. Most art galleries open to the public are commercial enterprises for the sale of artwork, others may be part of art cooperatives or non-profit organizations. As part of the art world, art galleries play an important role in maintaining the network of connections that define fine art.



In Western cultures from the mid-15th Century, a gallery was any long, narrow covered passage along a wall, first used in the sense of a place for art in the 1590s. [1] The Long gallery in Elizabethan and Jacobean houses served many purposes including the display of art.

Art is displayed not only for aesthetic enjoyment, but also as evidence of status and wealth, and for religious art as objects of ritual or the depiction of narratives. The first galleries were in the palaces of the aristocracy, or in churches. As art collections grew, buildings became dedicated to art, then becoming the first art museums.

Exhibitions of art operating similar to current galleries for marketing art first appeared in the early modern period, approximately 1500 to 1800 CE. In the middle ages that preceded, painters and sculptors were members of guilds, seeking commissions to produce artworks for aristocratic patrons or churches. The establishment of academies of art in the 16th century represented efforts by painters and sculptors to raise their status from mere artisans who worked with their hands to that of the classical arts such as poetry and music, which are purely intellectual pursuits. However, the public exhibition of art had to overcome the bias against commercial activity, which was deemed beneath the dignity of artists in many European societies. [2]

Art galleries were well-established by the Victorian era, made possible by the increasing number of people seeking to own objects of cultural and aesthetic value. [3] At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century there were also the first indications of modern values regarding art; art as an investment versus pure aesthetics, and the increased attention to living artists as an opportunity for such investment. [4]

Galleries and the art world

The art world comprises everyone involved in the production and distribution of fine art. [5] :xxiv The market for fine art depends upon maintaining its distinction as high culture, although during recent decades the boundary between high and popular culture has been eroded by postmodernism. [6]

In the case of historical works, or Old Masters this distinction is maintained by the works provenance; proof of its origin and history. [7]

For more recent work, status is based upon the reputation of the artist. Reputation includes both aesthetic factors; art schools attended, membership in a stylistic or historical movement, the opinions of art historians and critics; and economic factors; inclusion in group and solo exhibitions and past success in the art market. Art dealers, through their galleries, have occupied a central role in the art world by bringing many of these factors together; such as "discovering" new artists, promoting their associations in group shows, and managing market valuation. [8]

Gallery Opening, July 2015 Peter Triantos Second Gallery Opening Art Show 'CURRENCY'.jpg
Gallery Opening, July 2015

Commercial galleries

Commercial galleries owned or operated by an art dealer or "gallerist" [9] occupy the middle tier of the art market, accounting for most transactions, although not those with the highest monetary values. Once limited to major urban art worlds such as New York, Paris and London, art galleries have become global. Another trend in globalization is that while maintaining their urban establishments, galleries also participate in art fairs such as Art Basel and Freize Art Fair. [6]

Art galleries are the primary connection between artists and collectors. At the high end of the market, a handful of elite auction houses and dealers sell the work of celebrity artists; at the low end artists sell their work from their studio, or in informal venues such as restaurants. Point-of-sale galleries connect artists with buyers by hosting exhibitions and openings. The artworks are on consignment, with the artist and the gallery splitting the proceeds from each sale. Depending upon the expertise of the gallery owner and staff, and the particular market, the artwork shown may be more innovative or more traditional in style and media. [10]

Types of galleries

Galleries may deal in the primary market of new works by living artists, or the secondary markets for works from prior periods owned by collectors, estates, or museums. The periods represented include Old Masters, Modern (1900-1950), and contemporary (1950–present). Modern and contemporary may be combined in the category of Post-war art; while contemporary may be limited to the 21st century or "emerging artists". [11]

Contemporary galleries

An enduring model for contemporary galleries was set by Leo Castelli. Rather than simply being the broker for sales, Castelli became actively involved in the discovery and development of new artists, while expecting to remain an exclusive agent for their work. However he also focused exclusively on new works, not participating in the resale of older work by the same artists. [12]

Secondary market

All art sales after the first are part of the secondary market, in which the artist and the original dealer are not involved. Many of these sales occur privately between collectors, or works are sold at auctions. However some galleries participate in the secondary market depending upon the market conditions. As with any market, the major conditions are supply and demand. Because art is a unique commodity, the artist has a monopoly on production, which ceases when the artist either dies or stops working. [13]

Outside the art world

Some businesses operate as vanity galleries, charging artists a fee to exhibit their work. Lacking a selection process to assure the quality of the artworks, and having little incentive to promote sales, vanity galleries are avoided as unprofessional. [14]

Non-profit galleries

Some non-profit organizations or local governments host art galleries for cultural enrichment and to support local artists. Non-profit organizations may start as exhibit spaces for artist collectives, and expand into full-fledged arts programs. Other non-profits include the arts as part of other missions, such as providing services to low-income neighborhoods. [15]

Arts districts

Historically, art world activities have benefited from clustering together either in cities [6] or in remote areas offering natural beauty.

The proximity of art galleries facilitated an informal tradition of art show openings on the same night, which have become officially coordinated as "first Friday events" in a number of locations.

Galleries selling the work of recognized artists may occupy space in established commercial areas of a city. New styles in art have historically been attracted to the low rent of marginal neighborhoods. An artist colony existed in Greenwich Village as early as 1850, and the tenements built around Washington Square Park to house immigrants after the Civil War also attracted young artists and avant garde art galleries. [16] The resulting gentrification prompted the arts to move to the neighborhood "south of Houston" (SoHo) which became gentrified in turn. [17]

Attempting to recreate this natural process, arts districts have been created intentionally by local governments in partnership with private developers as a strategy for revitalizing neighborhoods. Such developments often include spaces for artists to live and work as well as galleries. [18]

Related Research Articles

Art museum Building or space for the exhibition of art

An art museum is a building or space for the display of art, usually from the museum's own collection. It might be in public or private ownership and may be accessible to all or have restrictions in place. Although primarily concerned with visual art, art museums are often used as a venue for other cultural exchanges and artistic activities, such as performance arts, music concerts, or poetry readings. Art museums also frequently host themed temporary exhibitions, which often include items on loan from other collections.

Art world

The art world comprises everyone involved in producing, commissioning, presenting, preserving, promoting, chronicling, criticizing, buying and selling fine art. It is recognized that there are many art worlds, defined either by location or alternative definitions of fine art. Some may use the singular art world to refer only to the elite level of globalized fine art. The art world(s) are continually changing in response both to the creativity of those that create art and in response to social change.

Art exhibition Organized presentation and display of works of art

An art exhibition is traditionally the space in which art objects meet an audience. The exhibit is universally understood to be for some temporary period unless, as is rarely true, it is stated to be a "permanent exhibition". In American English, they may be called "exhibit", "exposition" or "show". In UK English, they are always called "exhibitions" or "shows", and an individual item in the show is an "exhibit".

Yasumasa Morimura

Yasumasa Morimura is a Japanese appropriation artist. He was born in Osaka and graduated from Kyoto City University of Arts in 1978. Since 1985, Morimura has primarily shown his work in international solo exhibitions, although he has been involved in various group exhibitions.

Leo Castelli American art dealer

Leo Castelli was an Italian-American art dealer. His gallery showcased contemporary art for five decades. Among the movements which Castelli showed were Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Neo-Dada, Pop Art, Op Art, Color field painting, Hard-edge painting, Lyrical Abstraction, Minimal Art, Conceptual Art, and Neo-expressionism.

Lawrence Gilbert "Larry" Gagosian is an American art dealer who owns the Gagosian Gallery chain of art galleries. Working in concert with collectors including Douglas S. Cramer, Eli Broad, and Keith Barish, he developed a reputation for staging museum-quality exhibitions of contemporary art.

Westbeth Artists Community United States historic place

Westbeth Artists Housing is a nonprofit housing and commercial complex dedicated to providing affordable living and working space for artists and arts organizations in New York City. The complex comprises the full city block bounded by West, Bethune, Washington and Bank Streets in the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City; the complex is named for two of these streets, West and Bethune.

Art dealer Person that buys and sells works of art

An art dealer is a person or company that buys and sells works of art, or acts as the intermediary between the buyers and sellers of art.

Ace Gallery

ACE Gallery is an internationally recognized art gallery specializing in contemporary art. ACE Gallery Los Angeles is located in the Miracle Mile section of Los Angeles a few blocks east of Museum Row.

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland Art Museum in Cleveland, Ohio

The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland is a contemporary art museum located in the state of Ohio, United States. The moCa is the only contemporary art venue of its kind in the Cleveland region. The organisation was founded by Marjorie Talalay, Agnes Gund, and Nina Castelli Sundell in 1968 and has undergone several name and venue changes in the years following its 1968 founding. Originally known as The New Gallery, the museum was rebranded as the Cleveland Centre for Contemporary Art in 1984. The gallery has operated under its current branding as the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (moCa) since 2002.

Contemporary art gallery

A contemporary art gallery is normally a commercial art gallery operated by an art dealer which specializes in displaying for sale contemporary art, usually new works of art by living artists. This approach has been called the "Castelli Method" after Leo Castelli, whose success was attributed to his active involvement in discovering and promoting emerging artists beginning in the late 1950s with Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.

David Zwirner US art dealer and gallerist

David Zwirner is a German art dealer and owner of the David Zwirner Gallery in New York City, London, and Hong Kong, and Paris. Since 2012, Zwirner has consistently ranked in the top 5 of the ArtReview annual "Power 100" list, the magazine's survey of most important figures in contemporary art. Zwirner's rankings were 4 (2010), 5 (2012), 2 (2013), 2 (2014), 3 (2015), 4 (2016), 5 (2017), and 1 (2018) He has been on the list since 2003. In 2012, he was listed at number two in Forbes magazine's "America's Most Powerful Art Dealers".

An online art gallery is an online version of a contemporary art gallery.

Art valuation

Art valuation, an art-specific subset of financial valuation, is the process of estimating the market value of works of art. As such, it is more of a financial rather than an aesthetic concern, however, subjective views of cultural value play a part as well. Art valuation involves comparing data from multiple sources such as art auction houses, private and corporate collectors, curators, art dealer activities, gallerists, experienced consultants, and specialized market analysts to arrive at a value. Art valuation is accomplished not only for collection, investment, divestment, and financing purposes, but as part of estate valuations, for charitable contributions, for tax planning, insurance, and loan collateral purposes. This article deals with the valuation of works of fine art, especially contemporary art, at the top end of the international market, but similar principles apply to the valuation of less expensive art and antiques.

Thaddaeus Ropac, is an Austrian gallerist specializing in international contemporary art. He founded the Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in 1981, and represents today more than 60 artists with his galleries in Salzburg (Austria), Paris Le Marais, Paris Pantin and London.

Authenticity in art

Authenticity in art is manifest in the different ways that a work of art, or an artistic performance, can be considered authentic. The initial distinction is between nominal authenticity and expressive authenticity. In the first sense, nominal authenticity is the correct identification of the author of a work of art; of how closely an actor or an actress interprets a role in a stageplay as written by the playwright; of how well a musician’s performance of an artistic composition corresponds to the composer’s intention; and how closely an objet d’art conforms to the artistic traditions of its genre. In the second sense, expressive authenticity is how much the work of art possesses inherent authority of and about its subject, and how much of the artist’s intent is in the work of art.

Merton Daniel Simpson was an American abstract expressionist painter and African and tribal art collector and dealer.

Postmasters is a contemporary art gallery located in Manhattan's Tribeca neighborhood, owned and directed by Magda Sawon and Tamas Banovich.

African art in Western collections

Some African objects had been collected by Europeans for centuries, and there had been industries producing some types, especially carvings in ivory, for European markets in some coastal regions. Between 1890 and 1918 the volume of objects greatly increased as Western colonial expansion in Africa led to the removal of many pieces of sub-Saharan African art that were subsequently brought to Europe and displayed. These objects entered the collections of natural history museums, art museums and private collections in Europe and the United States.

Luisa Malzone Strina is a Brazilian art gallerist and art collector. Her gallery, Galeria Luisa Strina, is the oldest contemporary art gallery in Brazil.


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