Overheard at Art Fairs: Your Bitter Art Dealer’s Ennui, Reported


As opposed to Overheard in New York, or Overheard Anywhere Else, really, Overheard at Art Fairs – the work of a one Howard L. Rehs of Art Market Monitor – guarantees an inherently servicey slant if written by someone who actually mans one of the booths at an art fair, as a list of both the people at art fairs you should avoid being (and the people at art fairs you should generally avoid).

For example, things like:

  • Are you selling the frames or the paintings?
  • Do you buy paintings?
  • What is your best price?

Apparently infuriate crazy art people selling art!

I know you are saying … no way someone said that! Well, yes they did and it happened at the recent show in Chicago. To make it even worse, the individual was wearing a press badge and videotaping our works. Now here was my answer: Yes, we are selling the frames and as a bonus you get the painting at no additional charge!

What we’re saying is, wow, please don’t lose the day job, and also, art people should generally be grateful people are buying their shit in the first place. Sorry, but given the way the art market for the majority of consumers is over-saturated and easily sifted-through, this kind of belligerence isn’t exactly going to work to your advantage. Are there dumb questions? Sure! Are any of the questions above “dumb,” though? Not really, given that

(A) The frames might be better than the painting.
(B) If you’re crazy enough to sell them, you’re probably crazy enough to buy them.
(C) You obviously need this sale more than anybody needs this painting. So whatever’s on the painting right now is a far stretch from whatever your “best price” actually is.

Which we, as the consumer, will find out, and wring you for. It’d likely be to your advantage not to be a cheeky asshole while we do it.