Hard Choices: Should You Close Your Gallery?

The art market shrank by 22 percent over the last year, and it feels as if your gallery accounted for most of that decline. Virtual fairs and viewer-free openings have depleted your spirit, and your ragtag roster is filled with artists who long ago lost their market shine. You were once sustained by the bustling whirl of collectors, artists, competitors, and gossip, but lately life has become a financial and emotional sinkhole. Is this what you imagined when you stuck the word “gallery” after your name? This quiz will help determine if you still have enough schmooze to stay in the game.


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1. You discover that your only breadwinning artist is jumping ship to a blue-chip gallery. You:

a. Start renting out the gallery for weddings and photo shoots on Craigslist.

b. Sell the gallery to a collector’s kid.

c. Leak rumors of an affair with a studio intern and hope the ensuing cancellation tanks his career. (3)


2. One of your major collectors asks for a 30 percent discount on a much-needed six-figure sale because “times are tough.” You:

a. Bite your lip and agree because you need the cash.

b. Seal the deal with a 35 percent discount.

c. Say hallelujah and deliver the artwork yourself in an UberPool.


3. Your neediest artist is bombarding you with texts about taking out a full-page ad for their upcoming show in Artforum. You:

a. Tell the artist that nobody reads art magazines anymore.

b. Banish this artist to purgatory by graying out their name on your roster.

c. Post the press release to Instagram Stories instead.


4. An inept former gallery assistant whom you occasionally screamed at is vilifying you on social media. You:

a. Hire an HR consultant to gauge your toxicity level and arbitrate a proper settlement.

b. Commence a low-key smear campaign to get this person blacklisted with every mid-level gallery director in town.

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c. Get your current assistant to defend you in subthreads under different logins.


5. An art handler is requesting an extension on their unemployment even though they haven’t worked for you since last February. You:

a. Sign up for unemployment yourself.

b. Happily sign the extension because art handlers have one of the most precarious jobs in the art industry.

c. Tell them to talk to Kate in your nonexistent HR department before quickly hanging up the phone.


6. You discover that one of your artists is minting NFTs and hawking them directly to collectors on their Instagram account. You:

a. Ask Alexa “What is NFT?” one more time.

b. Confront the artist and demand your cut in Dogecoin.

c. Remain confident that you can still sell work to collectors who do not know that YouTube and video games exist.


7. A prestigious art adviser just told you that every gallery is moving to Tribeca and she likes the neighborhood better. You:

a. Smoke a joint and Zillow commercial spaces from your apartment gallery in Ridgewood.

b. Double down on having the whitest bro roster in Chelsea.

c. Move the gallery to Bridgehampton to get away from the downtown riffraff.


8. One of your artists confronts you about back pay that they are owed. You:

a. Send a selfie with a ventilator before permanently ghosting them.

b. Invoice the artist for back expenses to zero out your balance.

c. Venmo a cut of your fresh stimmy from the lobby of the check-cashing store.

0–5: Happy memories of your art-dealing past are far more valuable than any of the work by the artists you show. Quitting right now will let you hold on to those warm feelings without developing an even more debilitating case of lockjaw. If you don’t have passion, how can you persuade others to invest in your vision? Promptly close your gallery and send an email blast about how you are developing “new models” and “independent projects.”

6–11: The true measure of success for any gallerist is not going out of business. That means you are a winner. After binging “Shark Tank” on CNBC every night, you find quiet comfort in the perseverance of restaurant chains like Arby’s, Qdoba, and Del Taco. Whatever you are doing doesn’t appear to be killing you. In fact, it might be making you stronger. Maybe it’s time to start thinking more seriously about opening a “project space” in one of the storefronts vacated by the gallerists who scored lower than you on this quiz. #hanginthere

12–16: You can’t understand why anyone would take this quiz. What else is there in life besides the thrill of selling art? Your role models never once considered walking away from the art world. They had to be extradited. Never forget ’80s gallerist Andrew Crispo, who allegedly ordered executions and tortured people in his office. Celebrate Lawrence Salander, who committed multiple counts of grand larceny and defrauded his clients. Honor Inigo Philbrick, who hid on the South Pacific Island of Vanuatu DM’ing threats to people before being brought to justice. Stay the course and one day you, too, will achieve Artnet notoriety.

Source: artnews.com

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