The most informative and, for the art student, instructive journey in the visual arts is not the hours they will labour over their manifestos. Nor the years they will spend creating their portfolios. It certainly isn’t the paragraphs of philosophy they will have written on other people’s thinking in art history.
The eye-opening engine of the art world they want to spend their lives within is the journey taken by an art object from the artist’s studio to the gallery show. This journey has many complexities, some unexpected twists-and-turns and is not at all what one may anticipate as a young, slightly optimistic and very naive artist.
The first thing to remember in today’s artocracy is that no curator is going to enter your studio looking for you. Unless they are our own Darren Jones who does just this all over America. It is the experience of most artists to never have any gallery owner or curator cross their threshold and in community that may be a life-long experience.
With so many artists being churned out by indifferent colleges the art world has become very insular and even incestuous in many respects. Curators follow each other because none of them actually know what new artists will be worth anything to them in the future.
We have seen this in recent years in contemporary art with the puerile race to exhibit paintings by adults that mirror the work of children.
The journey involves the artist in getting to know galleries, going to parties, attending openings and just making friends with no pretence to sell anything but oneself. We all know the artists who have done just this over the past fifty years. There is no workable alternative to face-to-face marketing. Social media works only to a point and most galleries are on social media to promote their existing artists not find new ones.
And this journey needs constant maintenance. It isn’t a case of once in you are in forever. You are only as good as your last artwork, or as good as the ones that got you noticed in the past.
The artwork, no matter how much effort and skill you put into it, is a commodity and belongs to the world when it is finished. The journey it takes will be out of your hands for far longer than it is your gift to oversee. The world can easily let it all die with you.