May 27 , 2020


The world is changing and along with it the way of spreading art. No more fairs, biennials, museums or galleries, however contemporary artists have continued to create. This frantic search within him to represent or express his way of seeing life has not stopped.

What changed? Only the way to make yourself known, to bring the work to the public. In just days we went from showing art in person at crowded exhibitions and events, to limiting ourselves to exhibiting it only in virtual form, through social networks, Instagram, YouTube and any technological platform within our reach. Visual artists have had to upload videos where they record how they are developing their works and to market them in a particular way.

Today we see that the galleries offer great discounts of 30%, 40%, 50% and more. What's going on? Could it be that COVID 19, our invisible enemy, has made artists give away their works? Or are the galleries simply reducing their margins? Interesting question that calls for reflection. How is a work valued? Is the value set by the free market or just speculation?

Perhaps this pandemic will finally TRANSPARENT the art price market.

As an art lover it hurts me when a single object is treated like a pair of jeans or a T-shirt, a disposable consumer product, or a retail object. I just see it as a lack of respect for the artist and even more, for art and culture.

The artist's work must be exhibited and made known to the public in spaces enabled for its contemplation such as galleries, fairs and biennials, however it must be valued in his own workshop. The gallery's job is simply to educate and advise the client, but its commercial value will be increased once the artist is consolidated throughout his career and there is greater demand.

The Covid 19 has allowed more people to navigate the digital world, they have had more time to compare and study their favorite artists and sometimes discover emerging artists who have no chance of reaching a physical gallery. It has also allowed, in part, to show the value of a work since many times, the intermediary has had to adjust its prices and margins to fair values.

But the cost that has had to be paid to achieve this TRANSPARENCY has been enormous.

The sale of tickets to the museums represents a smaller percentage of the total income, however the situation will become increasingly complex. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with a privileged donation fund of $ 3.6 billion, has projected losses of $ 100 million. Institutions with smaller reserves are quickly depleting their funds and may never reopen. (Source Jason Farago)

Commercial art galleries are also at risk, especially medium-sized institutions for which sales and fairs account for an increasing percentage of their annual revenue. They bear the brunt of the impact of the cancellation of ChACO and Art Basel in March and Frieze in New York in May. (Source Jason Farago)

And most importantly, there are the artists who need cash to be able to cover their expenses, just like any citizen or perhaps even more, since in general they cannot resort to unemployment benefits or a paid leave. Currently we see that collaborations are being organized and forging solidarity networks (through Instagram, WhatsApp and other platforms), to gather emergency resources, while their exhibitions and teaching positions in various institutes and universities in the country are canceled.

The task of the artists in this year of COVID 19 will be to reinstate painting, photography, representation and all expressions of art, as something that can still be charged with meaning and have a global impact, surprise and delight us. The short-term task is to survive.

Christian jander
Executive Director
Tarquinia SPA Art Gallery