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Living in an Art Gallery
There is one thing all painters have in common. No, it's not dirty fingernails. It's not a collection of old, worn out paint brushes either. And, it has nothing to do with artistic temperament. The one thing we all have in common is that we each live in an art gallery. For most of us that means a permanent, "one man (or woman) show" opening January 1 of each year and running until the late hours of December 31, hours by appointment only, and featuring a retrospective of our favourite works amassed over a lifetime of collecting and curating. There's nothing new in all of this, of course. Artists have been the most prolific collectors of their own work for centuries. But it might surprise you to know that artists are not the only ones who live in art galleries.

Although the trend started in France, it seems to be England, particularly London, where there is developing a new type of art gallery. The French called it "merchants de chambre". The British refer to them as "new deal galleries." The concept of operating art galleries out of upscale homes and apartments has been pioneered in England by Danielle Amaud where she has instituted a network of such modest establishments in direct competition with the expensive, trendy galleries where such art work has traditionally been sold. For buyers, dealers, and artists alike, it's often quite advantageous. For the dealer, the overhead is less thus prices can be correspondingly lower; and there is no need to trek to the "right" part of town to open up shop each morning. The environment is also much more informal and consequently less threatening to would-be buyers, who often find such "galleries" conveniently right in their own neighbourhoods.

For artists, it often means broader exposure in more venues, and with lower commissions to the dealers. It means that their work will be seen as it will eventually end up--in homes, not the often sterile, artificiality of chic gallery spaces. The new deal galleries are not without disadvantages of course. Some point to the seeming amateurishness of such operations wherein the artwork is often mixed in with the trivialities of daily life. There is also a much lower profile for home galleries than the traditional storefront enterprises. And since each gallery is usually quite small, art shopping may take more time in trekking from one place to another. And, for the in-home dealer, it means keeping the house "presentable" at all times, ruling out that "lived-in" look. But for many dealers, those drawbacks are far outweighed by the ability to share, with artists, the beauty of living amongst "beautiful things." Thus, buyers and sellers alike are learning what artists have known for centuries--home is where the art is.

Contributed by Lane, Jim
11 March 1999


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