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June 25, 2004


Gary Potter

How snotty is that? What could possibly motivate someone whose business is to sell stuff be so rude?

So, we're supposed to feel priviledged to be "allowed" entry? That's appallling. Today it's impossible to determine ones stature from what one looks like - for all the door knew, I could have had enough money to buy the gallery and fire s/he.

Sean Bonner

hell, we own a fairly well known (at least in town) gallery and get treated like that when we go to some galleries. Ugh.


I don't understand the attitude at all! Are they envious of the artistic creativity? It happens to the artists, too. It's almost like, until an artist pays their dues and is "worthy" by whatever [subjective] measure, they're invisible. Maybe the same holds true for collectors, I don't know. Like, they're all afraid to blaze a new trail outside whatever "acceptable" unwritten margin exists or something.

Why would the gallery owner care who buys the stuff they display? Isn't all money equal? I just don't get it. But what do I know?! :)

I'm thinking Dr. Seuss was so right when he created the Star Bellied Sneetches!


If I get attitude in a gallery, I'm tempted to imitate Patsy Stone from Ab Fab and say, "Oy! Shopgirl/guy!" to get their attention.

Amy Hamberry

A good time to a visit small galleries is at the opening of a show, when the artists whose work is on display are often hanging out and enjoying some wine and crackers and cheese. :) I answer all the questions anyone asks me, and ask many of the other artists exhibiting at the show. I haven't been to many larger galleries but smaller ones like Brooklyn Working Artists Coalition are fun to visit, no stuffiness at all.


I am an artist, and often I feel indeed lost in a gallery. There are atleast 20 places I can immediately sum up where I would be more at ease. Interesting post.
Guess I should ask my gallerist to ask me the same questions ;)


I've been to a number of art galleries in the past, but this year was the first year I went to two art shows -- AIPAD and the Armory -- in NYC. The first one was more focused on "traditional" photography with a heavy dose of black and white and vintage prints (and some sprinkling of contemporary with Yossi Milo and a couple of others exhibiting), while the Armory obviously is much more screamingly contemporary.

I would have expected the traditionalists to be rude and uppity, but while there was the requisite dress code, "look" and atmosphere around many of the booths (small type and numbers on the walls, fashionable eyewear and imposing clothes...I wonder how much of the gallery employees' commissions are eaten up by wardrobe expenditures), a number of the galleries were reasonably cordial (as long as I was dressed the way they liked...I got more attention when I wore a black blazer than when I wore a casual windbreaker).

On the other hand, a number of contemporary art galleries, and some bigger galleries in general, seem to take an almost perverse pleasure in making you try to get their attention, whether at their gallery or at an art show. You know you're in trouble when the person working at the gallery answers a simple question about print size in a tone that is either an inaudible murmur or a barely concealed threat ("40x50!")

I even spent time in one booth talking to a featured artist signing her monographs...I bought a book and had the artist very nicely encouraging me with my own work...as soon as I was done and then turned to a gallery employee to inquire about prices for the artwork (which I was sincerely interested in), I got a short and snappish answer along the lines of "this is what it is...and I hope you don't intend to ask any more questions".

Cedric Caspesyan

The issue gallerists VS people is an ackward one.

It`s really a case of one by one, because some of the most important and respectable galleries in New York have the checklists and prices at the counter desk, while some very tiny hidden galleries showing the most obscure artists will make a fuss about anything.

The real problem I have is with employees acting like they own the gallery. These people you meet at first sight acting snottily, often having nothing to do with the real business of the gallery (if we speak of the larger spaces). Actually, it always make me smile when I see them acting like they are running every decisions.
But either I`ve been lucky or not, this case I`m describing happens quite rarely.

The gallerists themselves: some are very nice, others are insecure (and make use of cold attitudes to hide their insecurities). Some may actually be "full of themselves" but that is so not important compared to the number of artists who also are full of themselves and from which they probably take their attitudes.

The art world is fierced, certainly not the friendly ethical system Beuys would have wished it to be. It`s a responsibility of the artists to try to change this a little, or simply just beware if they think they are dealing with a shitty gallerist. If the artists are shitty, then we`re done with "social sculpture".

In the end, it all depends also of the artists, or the people heritating their trusts, and how they want to shape their relations with their audience. I`m afraid that a lot simply don`t care. It takes a special kind of genuinity to
be able to care about your audience.


If you want to buy a work of art, just show
a pile of money on the counter, I can`t believe
gallerists are not going to consider your offer unless they really reserve some works for "friends" (or regular customers). That could happen, but I`m certain they would offer you some other works.

Art is expensive, gallerist will obviously deal with people showing them the money. They just don`t want to hear people whine about how prices are expensive because.....well....they already know it is (lol). The Art Market is much about having the ego or guts at pushing prices up. It`s not (or rarely) about honesty at all. It`s not the Salvation Army. I guess it`s a gamble game you decide to play or not.

Than it`s up to the buyers if they think it`s great to get special attention because of their power to buy. Many actually prefer their transactions to stay secret (Those are the true fans of art amongst us who are just lucky to also be rich).

At any rates, Money is certainly not the only way in the artworld to get people`s attention, if this is what one truly wish.

>> "this is what it is...and I hope you don't >>intend to ask any more questions".

Wow ?? I would have LUVED to be there. That employee would have so regretted meeting me.
What gallery ??

The only 2 galleries I ever had problems with in new york (apart from a museum I won`t name):

Gagosian: lol....the Madison people were nice but the Chelsea one had very standard employees acting like they owned the space.
I think I was arguing the brilliant idea of publishing books that get deleted in a couple weeks (and why not just publish more copies of them). Why buy a de Kooning painting 2.9 millions
and then not publish extra copies of a book ??
I`m sure Larry Gagosian will hate me if we ever meet.

And I`m sad to say but....the Sonnabend desk guy
wasn`t very responding once when I asked about details of some works (the Fluxus photographs, and how many of each had been edited). I went to the space behind and there, the people were fine, especially since they were all talking in a group and I disturbed them all. Again: why act like shit when you are at front desk ? Is it part of the job ? Fear of loosing it ? Something I will never understand.

Having a huge ego and being nice are two very different things. Look at Jeff Koons, he`s usually
a happy camp person. His smile is contagious, it`s his best work of art ever.




With your OK I'd like to use those questions and publish them in my BLOG - they are very good and get to the point!


Lenny - you have my OK! Spread them around! And, thank you everyone for the great comments!


Hey thanks for the suggestions. They've been throughly useful!

Mister Long Face

The questions proposed are quite good for the standard Chelsea vagrant. If you really want to demonstrate you are a collector with a true vision for the art you're after try these on for size:

- Is this artist white? or gay?

- Does this artist sell work out of his studio?

- Was this artist molested?

- Will you sneak me an unauthorized copy of the video in the back room in exchange for Bottino's takeout?

- If I buy this art will I feel more fullfilment than if not?

- I have a bad case of the postmodern condition. Can you give me a massage to relieve all the irony?

- I missed the opening. Do you have any wine and cheese left over?

- Is this artist willing to make a video of me and he/she having sex for 20k?

best of luck!


That was funny, Mr. Long Face!

Cedric Caspesyan

(years later...)

10 Questions To Dare Ask To 10 New York Galleries

Gagosian: why not print more copies of your books if they sell so fast ?

Mary Boone: Gee, How much did that floor cost ?

Sonnabend: Why don't you have a checklist like everyone else ?

Deitch: Why don't you have a website or email ?

PS1: (to the guards) kid, could you please stop walking around me ?

Pace Wildenstein: Can we see that extra work behind that stair blockade ?

David Zwirner: What's the name of those cute guys working for yOU ? Are you Gay ?

Barbara Gladstone: Ok dear, When's the next Matthew Barney show ?

Matthew Marks: Seriously, bud, do you plan to open any other galleries for every other streets ?

Paula Cooper: I mean...why do you close the gallery whenever you feel like it ?


Cedric Caspesyan

(I'm sure you could think of others)

RE Davis

I think, perhaps, a disservice is being done to potential art consumers by claiming one bad apple spoils the whole bunch. I am a director for a gallery in Texas and if we acted that way toward potential clients we would be out of business.

As one person insinuated, one never knows anothers interest and personal wealth based on appearances. In a nation that is still fearful of art, it is my duty to put them at ease. I try to greet every visitor, tell them where the checklist is, and if they have any questions to ask.

The biggest problem any dealer should face is just getting people in the door. To that end we produce interesting, fresh exhibitions that are tempered with more "saleable" work (yes, the art comes first, but it is still about making money). One supports the other. I couldn't place either, though, if the staff copped attitudes. People are too fickle about spending money on a luxury item like art (as opposed to its being a neccessity, but we're working on that), without being turned off by someone's snotty attitude.

Luckily, we are in a destination location wherein the people we serve come looking for art. That said, however, a great deal of my job still involves educating a consumer. The consumer, though, does have some responsibility in the process.

First, if you are seriously considering buying, do some homework. Please don't go into a gallery that sells only cutting edge work and ask for Impressionism. Have some realistic idea of what you are looking to buy. It is tough enough to sell art without being told, "I like abstract impressionism, but not too abstract, with people standing in...." A bit over the top, but you get the idea.

Do you have a budget? A crass question maybe, but why show you something outside your ability to buy? Are you interested only in paintings,works on paper, sculpture? Do you have an idea of where you want to place the work (why is this important, because, in Texas, for some bizarre reason, in most houses there are a lot of windows (that face west in particular)- will the work be opposite windows that allow the work to be deluged in sunlight which is deadly over time to any work of art)? What about a work done directly on a wall or are you only interested in "portable" art?

We can answer your questions if only you will ask. I can't tell you how many times potential clients have come in, I've told them to ask if they have any questions (which I did because I could tell they were looking for something, but were hesitant to ask), didn't ask and then left still intimidated about looking at and buying art. Also, try to look and buy art for the sake of looking at and buying art. A good piece of work will fit any room, no matter the color of the wall or couch.

We are both on the hook to make this work, but a big difference between a bad/good client is the level of knowledge they bring with them. If you are coming to just look at the art then no problem, but if you are looking to buy don't let any gallery's staff treat you like dirt. We depend on you more than you depend on us.

Christian Gross

Ok, I can see the purpose of some questions, but not 1, 2, or 3.

I am wondering what knowing the age has to do with being an artist?


I'm a perfectly nice person who works in a "blue chip" gallery. I have an incredible amount of work to do everyday. I don't have time to check my personal email, and I usually stay min. 1 hour to complete everything. I'll agree in saying some gallerists have attitudes. I hate those gallery snobs too. They think they're celebrities, which is pathetic, b/c they probably get mommy to pay some of their rent. But I really don't have much time to spend on talking to random people. I'm suppose to be making sales or getting work done. If you aren't going to buy something, then I have to do get my mundane work done. I'm stressed out sometimes too, but the browsers never see that b/c they are concerned with being offended.


Salvador Dali painted many versions of “Persistence of Memory” around 1931 and our favourite one naturally is this one which shows Salvador Dali’s pet llama which he obviously called “Dali Llama”.It is displayed in the Museum of Llama Art in Mount Lehman, British Columbia.


So I'll let you know why Gogo doesnt publish more copies of catalogues....they are really only made as 'gifts' for clients...the galleries simply dont make enought money on the catalogues to publish more than say on average 800 copies. If a show is a 'historical' show then about 1000 will be published. It's a shame for some of the books b/c they are quite well made and useful so I feel your frustration.
I really enjoyed reading this site by the way :) I try to be equally helpful and nice to every person I encounter at my job wether they are an important client or a browser.

Linda Mitchell

We own a little gallery in Pittsburgh and we're friendly, but I know we couldn't answer all those questions about all our artist -- even the one's we go out drinking with. Your blog is right on, love it.

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