The impact of the shutdown on the arts sector has stifled long-planned exhibitions; dealers like Gagosian are now vying to compensate for those closures with online programming. In response, Gagosian will launch ‘Artist Spotlight’— a new weekly series focused on a host of established names from its roster that will begin on April 8th.
For Gagosian, the plan to highlight one work by a single artist each week will be shared with online editorials including interviews and film recommendations. In order to adapt to the new method of exhibition and to secure sales, major blue-chip dealers are now tasked with the challenge of virtual story-telling.
The gallery’s owner, Larry Gagosian, noted the unprecedented situation: “we discussed presenting our scheduled exhibitions online, but that is not how they were conceived. We needed a solution that didn’t require our artists to make that compromise.” Gagosian remarked further on the widespread changes to the market that require an urgent plan of action — “that is the challenge for us—you innovate and keep your resources and strategies flexible to support your artists when your doors have to temporarily close to a volatile world. And when the market is volatile, it is precision that gets you through.”
Galleries, museums and auction houses have swiftly rolled out digital platforms and collaborations in the past several weeks, Gagosian Gallery recognized that a closure of the gallery could not shut down their artists’ access to a market. Many of the artists featured in Artist Spotlight run studios that employ a number of persons like any small business. Giving those artists access to buyers supports their ability to make payroll and provide benefits like health insurance to employees. The Artist Spotlight program is intended to bridge the gap between the crisis lockdown and the eventual resumption of gallery shows and attendance.
The artists who are appropriate to the Artist Spotlight shows only comprise a portion of Gagosian’s roster. “There were a certain number of artists who fit the spotlight criteria,” said Sam Orlofsky, the Gagosian director who piloted the launch of the gallery’s online viewing rooms. “What are we doing for everyone else? We’re going to do online viewing rooms scheduled to the regular art fair calendar.”
That means an online viewing room in May timed to the original date for Frieze New York and one in June timed to the dates for Art Basel.
Returning to today’s announcement, the first artist to be featured in the inaugural edition of Artist Spotlight will be New-York based multi-media artist Sarah Sze, who was scheduled for a solo exhibition slated to open at Gagosian’s Paris gallery on March 18th just before the city enacted its closure policy. The show was meant to feature a set of Sze’s new assemblage paintings — now, just one of her works will be featured on the gallery’s official website during the series, where pricing will be available for just 48 hours. Some of the other contemporary market darlings who will be starring in the spotlight program are Damien Hirst, Jenny Saville, Stanley Whitney, Jennifer Guidi, Theaster Gates, Dan Colen, Urs Fischer, Mark Grotjahn and Mary Weatherford among others.