The New York Times has a long story about the changing structure of leading art galleries in the age of global art market timed to coincide with ArtBasel’s opening today. The story cites Clare McAndrew’s TEFAF report to emphasize the way big galleries are growing and medium-sized galleries are stagnating and smaller players declining in sales. The fairly comprehensive story explores the choices gallerists are making on whether to go big or stay home.
Amid the expectation that the biggest players have an immediate advantage, Pace’s Marc Glimcher tells this story about Julie Mehretu that goes against the grain:
When the New York artist Julie Mehretu was looking for representation, the largest galleries came calling. “Everybody wanted to take on Julie Mehretu; we all went to her studio,” said Mr. Glimcher of Pace. “She’s a bona fide, couple-of-artists-in-a-generation-type genius. We all listed the things that we could do for her. Then she looked around and she looked at Marian Goodman, who can barely fit her paintings into her 57th Street space.”
Ms. Mehretu is now represented by Ms. Goodman, a prestigious dealer with galleries in Paris and New York who has intentionally avoided the race for an expanded global presence.
“I asked her how difficult it had been to decide,” Mr. Glimcher said, “and she said, ‘Frankly, it was a really easy decision.”’
“For such an incredibly authentic person, without a complex for power, fame or money, there was something unattractive about all these big galleries,” Mr. Glimcher said. “The benefit of 20 small galleries that have stayed authentic is death by a thousand cuts to the big megagalleries. Unless, of course, you’re a megagallery that keeps spinning off your expansions and having them be independent.”