Ever since Damien Hirst made big bucks a couple of months ago stepping away from the dealer-artist relationship norm, he has shaken the force beneath artists who may feel controlled by their dealers. Case in point, see below:
In Toronto, art dealers normally collect 30-60% in commission on all artwork sold. Do the math, and very little is left for the actual creator of the work sold. Seem fair? Because there is no existing rank, certification or organization protecting artists, they're most times left as easy prey for art dealers. You can compare the artists to damsels in distress, or your mother-in-law (can't live with them & can't live without them), artists rely on these dealers to stay afloat in the art market, but often times they're taken advantage of.
One Toronto artist in particular, Viktor Mitic had just about had enough after a local art dealer came to his studio. He tells the media, "He came into my studio talking on his cell trying to sell a painting by Pistolleto to someone in New York. Without even pausing, he just said that my paintings need to be more penetrating and left. That same day I drove down to a gun range in Buffalo N.Y.; I rented an assault rifle and blasted a "more penetrating" painting, a portrait of Christ named Hole Jesus."
Hole Jesus will be on display at Trias Gallery Nov. 27- Dec. 18. 2008 in Toronto. While Viktor's motives were quite loud, I completely empathize with his frustration. Just as artists need art dealers, the dealers need the artists as well, being Damien Hirst as a perfect example as to the potential losses art dealers can incur when an artist sells directly to the public. As much as the dealers recognize the public's tastes and needs, in no way does that give them the same credibility to instruct artist's on their work. And so the story goes in the Art Market world......