Saturday, February 19, 2011

Art of the Deal

I'm reading Noah Horowitz's book Art of the Deal. It is about the economics of the contemporary art market from a micro (gallery) level to a global level. I just started but already it is fascinating. Here's a quote:

Dealers utilize their promotion of cutting-edge practices like video or experimental art as a loss-leader. Their commitment to this type of art may enhance credibility, but the real money is made out of public view on sales of more conventional goods (prints, photographs, paintings). Dealers' adeptness at gaming the market in this way is one of the hallmark developments since the 1960s.

This may seem obvious, but what makes it particularly powerful is that he points to research that shows that between 25% and 60% of galleries' earnings comes from back room dealings--dealings on e secondary market. Nothing inherently wrong with this, but it helps explain how a dealer whose "front room" is devoted to video or performance or installation art can survive. Indeed, it might represent a recipe for newish dealers that have a commitment to cutting-edge art (for example, Art Palace here in Houston).

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