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Framing art : the role of galleries in the circulation of art

Authors Joy, Annamma
Issue Date 1996-01
Summary Framing refers to the process of containment, of creating order, of maintaining boundaries, of exclusion and inclusion. The focus in this chapter - a play on the idea of the frame - is, at a broad level, on the space between the work of art and the viewer and, more specifically, on the role of commercial and parallel galleries as channels of art distribution. While commercial art galleries promote and sell the artist and her/his works, parallel galleries are more concerned with exhibiting art works, particularly those of a more experimental nature. The mandate of most parallel galleries is to diffuse and expose the artist. In this respect, parallel galleries are similar to museums. However, they cannot hope to parallel the seal of approval and value that museums bestow on the artists and their work. Nonetheless, parallel galleries perform an important service by providing space for unknown or up-and-coming artists to show their work. "Seeing" or "being seen" is the first step towards the recognition of the artist in the art world. But, this is not enough - the objet d'art needs to be seen and exchanged several times before the artist's career is decisively launched. Every time the artist's work is sold, its importance is reinforced and its value rises. Each resale also contributes credibility to the artist's career and artistic complexity to the object via the currency art critics and dealers offer for a given piece. Verbal and written discourses and exchanges circulating with the object further entrench its value and bestow status (and wealth) on its owner(s). The longer this circulation process persists, the greater the depth/history and status the object acquires. The circulation of art and the long term promotion and sale of the artist and his or her works are central to the functioning of commercial art galleries.
Language English
Format Working paper
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