HARD CHOICES: WILL YOU SURVIVE YOUR FIRST SOLO GALLERY SHOW?

With a world in crisis and an art market spinning out of control, ace art-world consultants Chen & Lampert deliver a quiz full of hard choices for Art in America readers from far and wide.

This fall you will be having your first solo exhibition at a gallery in New York. You fortuitously met the gallerist at a reception and, after a studio visit, she invited you to be in a group show. Your piece sold a few days after the opening and was prominently featured in a glowing review. Now you have your own exhibition slated, and everything seems great—except that you are worried. You feel unprepared for all the steps involved, and you’re anxious about the changes to life and career that may potentially come with success. Answer the questions below to gauge how you will fare in some realistic scenarios, then add up the points to see if you will catch a big break—or be broken.

1. The gallerist strongly feels you should make paintings that reflect the news cycle in order to excite curators and collectors. You:

a) Create a body of work highlighting undocumented incel environmentalists in Ukraine who lobby for income redistribution, solar power, and abortion rights in Texas
b) Paint an all-too-real portrait of Elon Musk in flagrante with Sergey Brin’s wife at Art Basel Miami on a bed of burning Bitcoins
c) Draw an epic tableau about the Capitol Insurrection exclusively with the innocent art-markings of a child

2. You thought the gallery was covering the cost of framing, but it turns out they only front the money and you are paying for it in the end. You:

a) Tell the gallerist that the paintings are, in fact, rugs—and that framing them would be against your religion
b) Quickly become a video artist and tell them you need an HDMI dongle, a projector and a case of Heineken
c) Go with the most expensive custom-made frames so that you can take the gallery down with you

3. When overextended movers arrive to pick up the heavy crate containing your massive painting, you notice them grappling with the weight and:

a) Quickly lend a hand, thanks to muscle memory from 10 years as an art handler
b) Sip your Nespresso and remind them that the work is extremely fragile as they hobble out the door
c) Photograph their struggle for an Instagram humblebrag post about studio life

4. The gallery’s artspeak-heavy press release describes you and your work in ways that you find uncomfortable and unintelligible. You:

a) Act like a full-blown doofus at the opening to invalidate their claims
b) Rewrite it with word-salad cribbed from your MFA thesis statement
c) Embrace being a critical art theory A-hole as advertised

5. Art handlers are asking hard-to-answer questions about what you want during the install. You:

a) Airdrop them meticulous millimeter-specific AutoCAD drawings that indicate precisely where all the works are to be hung with laser levels
b) Tell them to do that installer voodoo they do to make it look pretty
c) Argue about nails with them for an hour and then compromise

6. After completing the install, you attend the opening only to discover that the gallerist has removed a few pieces from the show, including your favorite. You:

a) Write “Fascist” on the wall with your own blood
b) Swallow your pride and compliment the gallerist on her impeccable eye and savvy
c) Stay late after and rehang the show to continue the tit-for-tat

7. The gallery has asked you to do a blitz about the show on your social media and have provided language they want you to incorporate. You:

a) Comply and post images with captions that begin “So honored to…,” “I am humbled…,” and “Incredibly grateful for…”
b) Tell them OK and don’t do it
c) Make your posts but then DM everyone to say that your account was hacked

8. You end up seated at the opening dinner with a gaggle of collectors and must charm them in order to seal the deal on sales. You:

a) Captivate the table with a surefire anecdote about the time you delivered a pizza to Jeffrey Epstein’s house
b) Have a heart-to-heart with them about the difficulties of finding a reliable landscaper for their weekend house
c) Gesture to your crotch and tell them that the exhibition was just a preview of the real show later tonight

9. The day after the opening, you wake up with an overwhelming sense of hollowness. You:

a) Hoover a rail of coke off your painter’s palette, pick up your brush, and get back in the saddle
b) Find a poorly shot photo of your show on Instagram posted by a total stranger and feel elated
c) Treat yourself to a set of fancy noise-canceling headphones and an eyebrow wax

10. Many friends said they enjoyed your show without offering any specifics, and it wasn’t reviewed by any critics. This makes you feel:

a) Depressed
b) Deprived of feedback
c) Like 98 percent of all artists

Hard Choices Quiz: Will You Survive

Scores:

10–16: Your issues with authority and an overdeveloped artist’s ego have made you brash, but does it always pay to be bold? Playing along will keep you on the gallerist’s A-list, but as a D-student this is possibly beyond your comprehension. Your negativity may make your friends laugh, but collectors and curators famously lack a sense of humor. Keep it up and you will become the punchline of your own joke.

17–23: Your easygoing ability to float along with things is your ticket to a long-term semi-career in the art world. This agreeability could keep you on a gallery’s roster for years to come, but the bigger question is: will you automatically get a show every 18 months, or will it take five years of gently nudging and pleading for that next big break? Luckily, in the meantime, teaching full-time will provide health insurance and a captive student audience every semester.

24–30: Behind your back people call you cutthroat, but you are so busy kibitzing and noshing at the bris of your number one collector’s grandson that you can’t hear them. You and your gallerist are a dream team because you know that it takes two to crack a safe. Your qualms about success will quickly fade away once your new art-world-savvy accountant sets up a shell corporation, tax shelter, and freeport scheme.

 

 

 

Source: https://www.artnews.com/

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