New York Times carried a piece by Roberta Smith on the survival tactics of New York City galleries in the face of economic downturn. Different solutions worked out to survive mostly revolve around operational cost cutting--shifting to cheaper spaces, reduction in employees, holding fewer and longer duration exhibitions,reduced advertising and curatorial expenses, avoiding participation in art fairs and so on.
But one gallery is spending time to unearth little known or undervalued artists who have not made it big.
The business model found resonance while I discussed the down turn in art market with artist friend Pramod Ganpatye. He said it is time the the undervalued senior artists were looked up by galleries and curators. There is great substance in this argument. Market lifts prices continuously for artists who arrive in so called higher circuits of galleries and auctioneers. This one -way focus on select artists is built by HNI who have personal interest o built up prices of their collection. Just imagine what the auction price of $136 million for the Klimt's portrait of Lady Adele Bloch Bauer
might have done to the prices of Klimt that were held as inventories by deep pocketed collectors. But think what happened to the Irises and Vase with 12 Sunflowers by Van Gogh that were sold for millions of dollars to Japanese collectors and who on bankruptcy found the sales value depleted to half or even less.
Market is an ass and builds on blind following. The good artists get left behind for they do not know to market themselves quite often. To look for keen value in art and to find good art among artists who have slogged for decades unsung and living in the isolated privacy of their studios is what the galleries should be doing in India too.
There are those who found name and money but then slipped many a notch to find problems in paying apartment EMIs or to maintain trucks/SUVs they bought while the going was good.But others never had an impact of down turn for they were never part of the senseless upturn.
The art world must find values in art not based on glitter but iron strength of creativity. its high time someone in India also does what New York gallery is doing in uncovering the dust from unsung but mean priced art.