Collector, curator and art world gadfly, Kenny Schachter just published on his Facebook page a telling email exchange between a young collector and a dealer. Schachter is put off by the dealer’s arrogance. The title of the post could have been: “Dealer to Collector: Your Art Sucks.”
But the correspondence is worth reading for more than that. The emotions, the turns of phrase, the insults emanating from each side seem to capture the growing sense of confrontation, mistrust and resentment on both sides of the primary art market equation:
I am a xxxx based collector and co-founder of the xxxx collection a newly establish initiative who promotes emerging artists. We really like the work of xxxx and we would like to acquire a piece for the collection. Please let me know if you have something available. We have not officially launched our website but you can look at the beta version it will give you the spirit and philosophy of what we do and what we collect.
Dealer: Thanks for the e-mail and the interest in the works by xxxx. Unfortunately we have no works to offer at this point, but promise to keep your interest in mind.
Collector: Thank you very much for taking the time to reply. I would be very happy to discuss further on the phone or meet in person when you visit xxxx art fair. We are very much interested in the work of another of your artists xxxx so please keep us in mind for her upcoming show.
Dealer: I am afraid that presents itself without a sense of purpose and that we will not be able to make the collection a priority. In all fairness, I am an eager supporter of not wasting my time or the time of others, and having looked at the online presentation I find that the decisions you’ve made so far provide a context that is not the right one for these artists.
It may be that the collection is not set up as an investment fund or to give it the appearance of a Philips auction catalogue, but it tells a fairly sad story of what is generally sold today and what will hopefully sell for more tomorrow. Best of luck with building whatever collection you want, but we will unfortunately be unable to contribute to that.
All the best,
Collector: Thanks for being open and blunt. Unfortunately my collection reflects my inexperience. I started collecting 2 years ago, I never used advisors, and I never studied art. I see this enterprise as a generational push, I buy works from artists that I can relate to because we share a common history hence my focus on the emerging scene, I am myself early 30’s. I have never sold anything and I am not intending to do so, I have never participated in an auction.
In your email you are talking about the choice that I have made, the art world is very difficult to break in for non-insiders; pretentious gallerists like you refuse to sell to persons like me because “we do not provide an appropriate context”. Well, you are participating in the system that you are criticizing pushing me to buy the works that I can access easily and making the volatility of the prices a sell-fulfilling prophecy.
On my side, I will still try to support the younger generation, hoping that one day your world of privilege will come to an end.