There are many models for gallery management: co-op model, artist-run, boutique, virtual, and blue chip. We are beginning to see that traditional brick-and-mortar galleries are becoming less viable, at least in terms relying solely on sales, and less relevant and interesting in modern society. Artists at all stages of their careers tells me that they desire to find gallery representation. This conversation usually occurs when they feel stuck. It becomes a lengthy conversation about what gallery representation can do for them, and unfortunately they often have unrealistic expectations.
A gallery that is “successful”, will usually adopt a strategy that targets three levels of interest. They will exhibit work by emerging artists in a project space area; they will also have a list of mid- and late-career artists who are well-known for their showings and a strong secondary market offering. Gallery’s survival depends on the sale of secondary market artworks. As the “experience economy” has taken root, galleries are increasingly trying to sell experiences in lieu of art objects or in combination with them.
Purchase of smaller gallery spaces
Gallery owners are forced to relocate into smaller spaces due to rising rent prices in major cities. As rent prices rise, galleries have had to relocate or reduce their size in New York’s gallery districts. This has been a dramatic change over the past few years. The numbers show that there have been more galleries opening than those that have closed.
It doesn’t seem to be hurting sales as galleries are now finding space in areas where there have never been any art galleries before. They use the friendly atmosphere of smaller spaces as a way to attract more buyers and create new vibrant art communities.
They might not be as large, but that doesn’t make them less important.
Moving Art beyond the Gallery’s Walls
Many artists believe that their galleries could do more for their art if they were involved in shows outside the gallery. Gallerists are also in agreement. Street markets often display artworks that are not usually found in galleries or museums.
Attending art fairs and hosting cultural events is a great way to keep current in the art market. Most often, beginner artists’ works end up at flea markets or festivals. These venues and events are more suitable for those just starting out in their career than galleries.
Hiscox’s 5th annual Art Trade report revealed that Instagram is now the most popular social media platform for art buyers. Major art galleries are also taking notice. Gallery like The Tate, Tbilisi museum and many others have seen their followers more than double in a year by focusing their social media marketing efforts on them.
It was also revealed that four out of the top ten most popular online art sellers also used traditional brick and mortar venues. These results confirm the fact that traditional galleries still have great potential to succeed in digital media. This is the number one reason. Trust in the consumer.
According to the survey, two-thirds of respondents felt that the main drawback to buying art online is not being able see it in person. Brick-and-mortar galleries, especially for high-value artwork, have a reputation and are trusted enough to continue being the preferred market for art purchases.
Virtual Reality and Arts
Virtual Reality is a fascinating way that technology and art have come together. We’ve all seen advertisements and demonstrations featuring large headsets worn by people, which almost look like futuristic science fiction movies.
Although it might look absurd from the outside, the headset allows the user to fully immerse themselves in another world. The headset allows them to travel through foreign cities, swim in the ocean, or hike through forests all from the comfort of their own living room.
Why can’t we be immersed in an art piece if we can go to a distant location with a VR headset? We can. Virtual Reality is being used by many artists and art institutions to allow visitors to enter the artworks and paintings. Virtual renderings in 3D are used to accomplish this.
Imagine 20 years from now, the virtual capabilities that we will have. It could have the major influence on how art sells, how buyers interact, how artists produce their conetent and which direction art galleries and museums take for development.
We can observe changes in smaller art markets, but we don’t need to be concerned about large museums disappearing.
Many gallery owners see the benefits of focusing large portions of their art and operations on virtual galleries. These benefits were even more evident during the global pandemic.
Many small gallery owners were forced to close their doors during lockdowns, which was a sad fact. Some were able to reopen, while others couldn’t.
Artists who own their galleries are also exploring digital art by creating NFTs or virtual gallery spaces.