June 22, 2008

Secrets for posthumous success

Am I the only artist who loathes arranging studio visits with dealers? Apparently not. In the NY Times today Dorothy Spears writes about artists who may not have been good at cultivating dealers and collectors when they were alive, but now that they're dead, galleries are happy to represent them. According to Spears, if you're aiming for posthumous recognition, art market success isn't as important as gaining the respect of your peers. Of course you won't reap the financial rewards, but you don't have to arrange studio visits, attend the opening receptions for your shows, or cultivate collectors. Steve Parrino, Al Taylor and Jack Goldstein all refused to play to the market during their lifetimes, and are now experiencing fabulous success. "With the soaring prices of contemporary art, dealers admit that they have a strategic incentive to seek dead artists and give them recognition. 'It’s supply and demand,' said David Zwirner, the Chelsea dealer and co-owner in Zwirner & Wirth, which represents Mr. Taylor’s estate. He said the limited inventory imposed by an artist’s death can end up increasing prices. 'Although overall market conditions are not our only motivation, we are a for-profit gallery,' he added. 'There is a commercial angle, or we’d be going out of business...'

According to Al Taylor's widow, Al was lousy at the business of art. "He would have never gone around to David Zwirner and said, ‘Would you come to my studio?’ And he wouldn’t have let me do that while he was living. He wasn’t into the audition."

Related posts:
The backstory: Poons and Taylor
Steve Parrino's sex and death paintings

Jack Goldstein at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York, NY. Through August 1.

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