People often come into the gallery and ask me to help them purchase a piece. While I am always happy to do so—it is my job, after all—I am always hesitant. Art is such a subjective thing.Something I think is beautiful and would display in my own home is not necessarily what the person who just walked in the door is looking for. I am not the one who has to look at the piece all day long, so I can’t imagine why they not only ask me, but go along with my recommendations—especially when they know that I receive a commission. I am not as unscrupulous as some other art dealers might be; I do not automatically steer people toward the most expensive thing in the gallery. Instead, I try to ask them questions and find out what they like and where they plan to put the piece. Unless I’ve been in the client’s house and can see the lighting, the colors, and the physical space in which they are physically hoping to display the art, I cannot really say for sure what it will look like in its new home. I do, however, try to make the effort to find these things out, as well as what the client is hoping to purchase.I try to show them several pieces in various price ranges to give them options.
To me, art is a visceral thing. I know it sounds like a cliché, but I truly feel that art has to speak to the person if they are going to be happy with it in their living or work space. Art should evoke something in the viewer, but even more so with the owner. I want all of my clients to see their acquisitions and remember where they purchased the item, or who gave it to them, or the occasion the piece is commemorating. It should be a memory enhanced by the artwork, a joyous connection between artist and patron.
For that reason, I don’t typically recommend that my gallery patrons buy art solely as a means to accrue wealth, nor do I think they should buy something by a particular artist simply because that person is getting a lot of press for whatever reason. If they see the piece and it speaks to them, so be it. I will happily wrap it and send it off to its new home. But not for any other reason. I firmly believe that the relationship between a person and anything they display in their home should be a personal one and not stem from a financial choice or an attempt at an increase in social standing. Those are usually the pieces that end up being resold—sometimes for more than they are worth, but often for much less than originally paid—and it is mostly because people were not really in love with it from the beginning.
I like to walk buyers around the gallery so I can gauge their reaction to what we are seeing. If something lights them up, I know we have found the right piece. If not, I will continue to ask questions in the hope that I can match them with something wonderful.