To Sell or Not To Sell?

Claudine Ascher Art > Blog > To Sell or Not To Sell?
The Russian
Coloured pencil on paper 42″x36″
C. Ascher
How come when I don’t post anything for awhile on my Blog, there is suddenly a large number of ‘audience’ from Russia in my statistics listing who don’t actually seem to be reading my posts? Just wondering.
I have an exhibition coming to an end at a local museum. It’s been strange not having my sculptures all over my house. I am at once happy for the extra space and missing them. The ones at the museum are part of my collection, some older works in my key themes and finishes I’ve held on to for inclusion with newer or new work in a solo. Unless I or the curator of the exhibition space have a specific vision for the exhibition, say a dedicated theme or concept, then the inclusion of ‘older’ work creates a continuity for my audience. They can see the evolution of my ideas and techniques.
This is a problem for new or inexperienced artists. They are so eager to sell, they put their pieces up for sale as soon as they’re finished. Before, that meant waiting for the exhibition, but today with the Internet, it’s almost an instantaneous thing. It’s a pity, because then artists apply for exhibitions but don’t have a representative body of work from which curators can build them.
My advice to artists as a curator is: don’t be too eager to ‘sell’. The first danger is that they won’t, a devastating disappointment for some who base their idea of artistic success on sales.  The second is that they will produce ‘for sale’, meaning that they will make their esthetic decisions looking out towards what they think MIGHT sell or what they see others sell (many paint landscapes for this reason). The third: It’s a real downer if artists haven’t yet established the actual market value of the work because it can be too easily under or overpriced, impacting the relationship with commissions or clients who want to bargain.
And fourth, it can mean not getting an exhibition in a not-for-profit context – say in an artist-run centre or a museum like the one where I showed – because the artist had not enough work available to show a curator or commit to an exhibition.

Sometimes, not selling the art is much better for the artist’s career.
1 Response
  1. Also frustrating is that galleries always want "new work". It may take 5 years or more for a body of work to come together but they want something completed within the last 2. Artists are not machines…sometimes quality takes time. BTW I love "The Russian".

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