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Over the weekend, the New York Times took yet another stab at a familiar trend story about the art market: the supposed impact of art fairs on the small gallery model.
Unfortunately, the grab bag of anecdotes doesn't really add up to the story's thesis. Take the example of the collaboration between Venus Over Los Angeles and another, smaller gallery:
Adam Lindemann has turned over the programming of his Los Angeles space, Venus Over Los Angeles, to the Lower East Side gallery Ramiken Crucible, run by Blaize Lehane and Mike Egan. “The smaller galleries, they want to keep their artists,” Mr. Lindemann said. “This is a way for them to keep their artists and not have everyone they represent get stolen from them.”
Rather than an issue related to art fairs, this slightly unorthodox approach is more of a real estate story. Lindemann is developing a building in Los Angeles with a gallery as its anchor, his gallery. Outsourcing the gallery's management to Ramiken Crucible lowers Lindemann's operating costs while adding to the value of his real estate project.
Real estate is the unacknowledged legislator in the art market. Art fairs may be an efficient, if expensive, way to acquire new customers. But art dealers face a more immediate problem, the decline of retail as a cultural experience or form of discovery.
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