Thursday was my day to sit on the International Art Marketing Board. The paintings are brought along to us on a vertical conveyor that presents between 20 and 30 per minute. You have to stay alert, but I have to say we are well provided with excellent coffee and light lunches when we ask.
Artists pay $30,000 per year to have their work priced and distributed. There is also a $100 handling fee for each work seen, and we board members get a small commission when the work sells.
I happened to be placed between Angela Shwartz-Plewd (Ger) and Randi Gorfball (UK). When an interesting acrylic abstract came before us I couldn’t help noticing that Angela gave it 79 cents (US) and Randi clocked it in at $10,000. Shocked at the disparity and conscious that I was running behind, I gave it a firm $5000. When the final score went up on the readograph it was priced at $8745.26. It was on its way to a dealer in Manhattan. Prices are very much dependent on who shows up that day.
A little later there was a medium-sized oil that depicted two dogs playing Scrabble. I immediately liked it as the Airedale had all the good tiles. Apparently Randi had been snooping on Angela’s pricing as he suddenly reached across in front of me and pressed a cucumber sandwich into her face. The painting came in at $1287.34, which was low in my estimation. It went to the UK. Randi had to be removed to another part of the table.
The new person beside me was a fellow Canadian. I won’t mention his name because he was already asleep and continued abstaining for the afternoon. Somebody eventually took his pulse and announced he was dead and would have to go back to the Academy. I was exhausted, not only because I was sitting next to a dead person but also because of the general animosity in that room. I don’t like confrontation, and I won’t be attending again for at least a month.
On my way home I had to stop and pick up a gallon of milk. Such a lot of nourishment for such a reasonable price, I thought. It feels really great to live in a country where they don’t charge the cows.
PS: “Any ideal system is its own worst enemy, and as soon as you start to implement visions of grandeur, they just fall apart and turn into tyranny.” (Ben Nicholson)
Esoterica: The making of art is one of the world’s great democratic rights. However, to be fully democratic and to extend art to its rightful audience, the practitioner is required to develop skills that go beyond the work itself. In the case of visual art, no academy or board, no matter how wisely chosen, can fully do the job for us. “A committee,” said Fred Allen, “is a group of the unwilling chosen from the unfit to do the unnecessary.” “History,” said Robert Henri, “proves that juries in art are generally wrong.”
Don’t go there
by Joseph Jahn, Nibe, Denmark
When I started painting 30 years ago I thought it was necessary to enter juried exhibitions. I soon learned as you pointed out that they are dependent on who shows up that day. The last one I entered was 28 years ago and my career did not suffer a bit. I have chosen to never enter that circus again.
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Hanging with contemporary masters
by Sharyn Mellors
A range of $10,000 to 79 cents mimics what I have found in my medium. It seems that local guild contemporaries find the value of my work on the lower end of the scale but jurors of larger international shows welcome it and knowledgeable appraisers give it a very nice value and appreciate my work. Not that it matters. I don’t sell my work. I only enter it in juried shows to enable me to hang with the true contemporary masters in my field. It gives a good raised bar to inspire me. Then my job is to get the images out of my imagination using the best skills my muses can produce. I am by no means an Artist. I would rather think of myself as an ever learning folk-artist. Thank you for taking the time to broaden my knowledge.
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by Rich Williams
I would love to have that job eating cucumber sandwiches and giving totally arbitrary value to art. It seems that you have found the perfect outlet to vent upon the true nature of critics, juries and art appraisers. For it is all lies — or lies in the eye of the beholder. You definitely need a raise as they cannot pay enough for your discerning eye. You should have saved this story for the day after March 31st.
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by Brenda Behr, Goldsboro, NC, USA
I had no idea when I first started reading this that there was something called the International Art Marketing Board. Surely you’re joking, Mr. Genn! Amazing! Sounds like the Miss Universe pageant of the art world. We must be in a time when people want/need judges, e.g. Britain’s Got Talent, America has some too — Dancing with the Stars, Project Runway, on and on. I find it difficult enough to find consensus by way of a jury of one, the one who decides from time to time to purchase one of my paintings.
I am, however, familiar with committees. And in my past life as an advertising “creative” we had a definition of a committee. “A camel is a horse designed by a committee.” We artists may need to go to our rooms. The buying public (with the mega-bucks) needs to go to art appreciation school.
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by Tiit Raid, Fall Creek, Wisconsin, USA
Your latest letter regarding your day on the International Art Marketing Board is not based on a dream… is it? There really is such a beast where artists pay $30,000.00 per year to have their work priced and distributed, plus $100.00 for each piece reviewed? Weird. What artist has $30,000 a year to spend on such a tragically comical sounding situation? I just got off Google… and couldn’t find anything that matched ‘International Art Marketing Board’… which doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist I suppose… but… are you putting us on regarding it? Or does IAMB mean – I Am Bewildered?
Enlightening post for young people?
by Mel Davenport, Dallas, TX, USA
It must allot you great prestige to be on this board, not sure being with dead people, sans milk, would be my cup of tea. I do so enjoy your letters, though, and always glean from them. I’m off to substitute teach in a real live high school art class today (I got RIF’d last year from this same position due to school district exigency – they cut out one of the two art teachers in the district) and will be trying to find a place to insert your story of today. One of the questions art students always asked me was, “Why is it that some paintings cost $X and some cost $XXX. Your post will be enlightenment.
Who runs it?
by Mike Bell, Northumberland, UK
Sorry but I’ve never heard of this International Art marketing Board. (It doesn’t seem to exist on Google, except as a Board Game!) Which artists today apart from a few very high profile ones, i.e. Hirst, Richter, Emin, Prince etc, could pay $30,000 to join? No one I know! Especially in today’s “dead” market for the average good artist and not those selling through the top auction houses and galleries. Who buys from this Board and sets the paintings prices? Very strange. I’ve taught widely for thirty years and exhibit mainly in UK, but several times in USA and Europe with many galleries and this is an unknown to me. Where does this organization reside and who runs it?
There are 2 comments for Who runs it? by Mike Bell
Good to know the jurors
by Dean Drewyer, Leesburg, VA, USA
An old friend who was an artist and head of a department at a local college used to say to me, “If you win a juried award, you must have done something wrong.”
I don’t enter any sort of juried situation any more but over a two year period as a young man still trying to get the whole ‘painting life’ underway — I entered two prestigious, local art competitions. I won best in show the first year with a nice abstract painting I’d done in Grad school (when I was all about showing the school I could paint any damn way I pleased). The second year I won BIS for a portrait I’d finished as an exploration into representation that continues to this day. Both competitions required that the work be unsigned to ensure anonymity. I found out a couple of years later that my friend artist / college teacher, who formed the quote above, had juried both exhibitions. We laughed about this when we realized it and he reassured me he had no idea the work was mine — we had only gone to drawing sessions together — and after that he always said, “I rest my case” — laughing uproariously.
There are 3 comments for Good to know the jurors by Dean Drewyer
Sorry you got caught up in that mob
by Richard F Barber, Watford, Hertfordshire, UK
Having read your recent letter it seems to outline the problems for the artist within the world of art, brain dead people putting a price on art that they have little interest in or understanding of. Getting a free meal and cash for just turning up and possibly talking a load of crap. Artists who pay such a ridiculous sum of money to get someone to price their art is beyond understanding. It takes me back to the old saying of bull s — t baffles brains. I feel that is one of the main reasons art has gone the way it has. I’m sorry to hear that you became caught up as part of that mob.
All the money spent on educating people in universities and obtaining degrees is now the 21st Century falsehood, as the degree paper now has no worth more than toilet paper, just like most of today’s art.
Appraisal needed for tax receipt
by Halin de Repentigny, Dawson City, YT, Canada
I am currently in the process of donating a piece of art to a Yukon teaching institution. The art piece consists of an authentic 30 foot birch bark canoe. The college is very thrilled about the new acquisition and I am also asking them if they could provide me with a tax receipt. They told me no problem but I would need to get it appraised first. There’s the dilemma. I have lived in the Yukon for over 30 years and I am also a very well known artist here. If somebody can appraise my art piece it should be me, the same as I do for my painting, but they want someone else. Can any of you help me? Finding a professional appraiser in the Yukon is like finding a moose in downtown Vancouver!
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by From a large number of readers
(RG note) Thanks so much for all the input! We couldn’t help noticing the large number of one-liners this time. I asked our editors to gather a representative sample and run them together in one entry. I’ve also suggested leaving out last names.
“I never even knew something like this group existed.” (Kathi) “Good grief! People PAY for that??? I was disillusioned before but now it’s even worse!” (Jan) “Let’s hope this is a hoax! The ultimate in absurdity.” (Donna) “Thanks for starting my weekend off with a good laugh!” (Rebecca) “Alarming!” (Sharon) “Do you only host this board in Canada?” (Anselm) “What’s a Readograph? Sounds flaky.” (David) “You have lost it, Robert!” (Will) “Are you crazy???” (Dick) “I’d like to submit my work for the Board’s consideration.” (Albert) “I know the Swartz-Plewed family, they are very nice people.” (Helmut) “I vomited a little into my mouth.” (Art) “Could you send more information on this board?” (Judy) “OMG, what an ordeal you had!” (Linda) “Outrageous.” (Allan) “How could you, of all people, get mixed up with something like this?” (Fred) “Could you explain what this board is, does and where it sits and how often? It doesn’t sound like something I would be interested in.” (Rae) “It sounds like the corporate greed and — place colorful language here — I’m trying to get away from.” (Tommy) “Where do they get such poor quality jurors?” (Edwin) “Have you been drinking again?” (Ellen) “Did Dorothy write this one?” (Bill) “What an informative letter, Mr. Genn, about that aspect of the art world. Thank you!!” (Pat) “Being an American I’ve never heard of the International Art Marketing Board and the scene you describe. I must say that it sounds like a little slice of hell or a really good episode of The Twilight Zone. Do artists really pay for this system?” (Casey) “I am sorry, but if this event truly happened that the Canadian man sitting next to you died, you need to be clear if it really happened. I read your letters with interest, but if someone really died and your title indicates that you or the board had a rough day, how self-absorbed is that? Your letter went all over the place. I don’t appreciate wasting time reading letters like this.” (Mary)
Overlooking the Bow
arcylic painting 24 x 36 inches
You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.
That includes Kathy Pigg of Bridgewater, VA, USA, who wrote, “Big government, big banking, big movements of all kinds. Is it time to Occupy Art World?”
Enjoy the past comments below for A rough day on the Board…