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How to recognize a good gallery

One criterion, which a beginner can apply while assessing galleries, is whether they exhibit at art fairs (Which ones and how often per year do the galleries participate). A gallery that is participating at the main art fairs (e.g. Art Basel, Frieze Art Fair, Armory Show), has a significantly higher status compared to a gallery which participates only in satellite fairs. In both cases, one can assume that the galleries are serious because the prestigious galleries have their reputations at stake; the others are still establishing their reputations. Besides the represented artists, a gallery’s reputation (often connected with the owner’s name), as well as the trust and loyalty the customer places into a particular gallery, are the gallery’s largest assets; the gallery wouldn’t want to place these attributes at risk.

In order to participate in an art fair, the galleries must apply for a booth. A selection committee makes an assessment whether the gallery program complies with the fairs’ quality expectations. Therefore, participation in art fairs, especially in the prestigious ones, is akin to being handed a seal of approval.

Also, if a gallery does not participate in art fairs, or it does so only seldom, that does not mean it is a bad gallery. But the quality is more difficult to determine. It is definitely a good sign if such a gallery is member of an acknowledged gallery association.


How to recognize good art and artists

As already mentioned at the beginning, in this article we focus on the selection of works from an artistic point of view. Under this aspect, originality and continuity are the most important points which must be considered.

From an art-history perspective, the artist should formally, and with regard to content, offer in his/her works their own, new position. As the term “new position” is used nowadays, in an almost inflationary way at art fairs, exhibitions and internet websites, it becomes especially difficult for beginners to decide whether (for instance) a new, unknown artist is indeed offering a new position in terms of his/her artistic approach. Therefore, it is important for novice collectors to help themselves with supporting tools, which although do not provide perfect security, can serve as guideline: It is important to have a detailed look at the artist´s resume. What education does he/she have (which academy and professor?), did he/she already exhibit his/her work somewhere (where?), has something already been written about him/her (which type of media, who was the author?), did he/she receive any awards (how important have they been?) Did he/she already catch the attention of other collectors and become a part of their collections? The more experienced you become, the more you can abstain from such supporting tools and follow your own opinion.

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Kunstmesse Art Basel
To be invited to the Art Basel, despite its high space-rates, for many galleries is a sought-after goal
Kunstakademie Düsseldorf Klasse Grünfeld
Art College Düsseldorf, during student show 2008: Works by Prof. Grünfeld’s class