The Art Newspaper reported an interesting study last week, causing us to wonder how much influence certain galleries hold over the art world at large.
Above image: HyperAllergic’s Benjamin Sutton’s take on the Guggenheim in light of the study
They reported that between 2007 and 2013 almost one-third of major solo exhibitions at museums in the United States featured artists who were represented by at least one of five galleries, those being Gagosian Gallery, Pace, Marian Goodman Gallery, David Zwirner and Hauser & Wirth.
To reach that conclusion, the Art Newspaper reviewed almost 600 exhibitions submitted by 68 different museums. If the picture in the aggregate isn’t surprising enough, the site found more brazen examples of the trend. For example, they learned that within this time period 11 out of 12 major solo exhibitions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of New York featured artists who were represented by the same five galleries. When a spokeswoman was asked about the figure, she said that the museum selects artists for their quality, not by who represents them. She added that emerging artists are promoted with smaller exhibitions. Still, even with these smaller shows taken into account, more than half of the shows at the museum went to artists from those five galleries.
The Art Newspaper States:
“The figure raises questions about the growing influence of a small number of galleries in a rapidly consolidating art market—especially when they often offer logistical and financial support for exhibitions. At the same time, some wonder whether museums are doing enough to expose the public to art they would not otherwise see.
“Museums “should be looking at a much wider swathe of artists”, says Robert Storr, the dean of the Yale University School of Art. “Curators are abdicating and delegating their responsibilities… to more adventurous gallerists who, aside from the profit motive and in some respects because of it, seem in many cases to be bolder and more curious than their institutional counterparts,” Storr says.”
The findings raise questions about whether museums are doing enough legwork to find artists worth exhibiting, or if research or financial support from the galleries are influencing the museums’ selections. Out of the five, only one gallery offered a comment on the story. The others either said they were unable to respond or declined to comment.
Marian Goodman told the magazine that the gallery isn’t “trying to buy the museums” but they are interested in making the museums’ work easier by giving them access to archives or information.
Hyperallergic sardonically noted in their writeup of the study that the results reminded them of an April Fools day piece they published the day before, “Whitney Museum Replacing Biennial with Program Devoted to Art Galleries.” This is evidence that the satirical work could be closer to the truth than the writers of that piece realized at the time.
We’re interested in seeing what you, our readers, think about this study. What does this signify to you? Is there collusion between these two spheres, or are the major galleries really that good in selecting art that’s worthy of note? What could this mean for emerging artists or for the public? Let us know in the comments.
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