Could Galleries Be Obsolete In 50 Years?

Gallery and exhibition spaces are no longer held within the confines of a room with four white walls. As real estate prices increase and artist representation become scarce, artists nowadays are turning to alternative ways such as their homes, restaurants and even social media to showcase their works of art to the public.

Many painters are turning their own home into an art gallery. Take painter Austin Eddy for example, who turned his apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn into a part-time home and a part-time gallery. This type of exhibition space has become increasingly popular, especially after the 2008 economic downturn, when artists struggled to find temporary spaces to exhibit their artwork. Furthermore, as galleries and art dealers are becoming increasingly particular about the artists they represent, emerging artists are finding it difficult to get their foot into the art market.

Restaurants are also catching on the latest trend of alternative gallery spaces. Restaurants such as Duddell’s in Hong Kong fuse art and food into one room. While serving Cantonese food inspired by the works of art displayed, guests are surrounded by walls that act as a gallery space. Past exhibitors include Danh Vo and world renowned Ai Weiwei. The dining space is also transformed into a conversational space, where the Hong Kong Art Committee holds an array of lectures about the art market.

As limited space and representation are a commonality amongst emerging artists, many are turning to social media outlets such as Instagram and Facebook to display their works of art and reach potential clients. Through Instagram, artists such as Genieve Figgins and Bp Laval gained the attention of artist Richard Prince who helped them create exhibitions and books, ultimately signing a deal with a gallery.

United Talent Agency, “One of the biggest talent agencies in the world… [representing] many of the world’s most acclaimed figures in every current and emerging area of entertainment and media,” recently opened U.T.A Artist Space in downtown Los Angeles. Lead by Joshua Roth, an art lawyer whose clientele include Ai Weiwei and Judy Chicago explains that this space, “will not function as an art gallery”. Their concept is a cross between a multipurpose venue and an art exhibition. U.T.A Artist Space opened its doors in 2016, and chose Larry Clark as its first exhibitor who is a filmmaker and photographer. Clark’s films, photographs and his series inspired by drugs will occupy the “gallery” space. What sets this space apart from mainstream galleries is their limited opening times (Wednesday ― Saturday) and its aim to collaborate with non-local galleries who desire to reach collectors in L.A. Unlike dealers, the U.T.A. Artist Space does not act as a dealer for artists, but instead, it houses events such as book readings, lectures as well as mini-concerts for artists represented by U.T.A.

The art market is constantly evolving ― could galleries be obsolete in 50 years? Only time will tell.

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