Answer: “Great Art Sells”
This from an art dealer that I met years ago. And although her words can certainly be argued with, I’ve never forgotten them.
While it’s impossible to define great art, I think she meant that artists typically sell their strongest work and that subject matter is secondary. Knowingly or not, art collectors respond to the intangibles such as the artist’s level of inspiration, commitment, and passion for their craft.
Every gallerist I’ve spoken with says the same thing:
Don’t paint for the market.
Paint what you love, not what you think will sell.
If you’re showing multiple pieces then don’t expect the stronger works to lift the weaker ones up – expect the opposite; the weaker pieces will pull the rest down.
The 80/20 rule applies: 80% of the work that you do is for artistic growth, experimentation, and development; 20% is for show.
The best part about this is that it leaves the artist with a nice archive of work. This applies to studio time as well; 80% observation / 20% execution.
I know little about the commercial success of the great Giorgio Morandi’s paintings. I only know that I saw the one featured above in a small gallery a decade ago and it has stayed with me all this time. I can see it with eyes closed, and smell the dust on the table.
Making an impression is one thing. Connecting is something else entirely. And that’s what this game is all about – connecting. Briefly taking someone out of their reality with your art and bringing them into your own. It’s a liberating sensation.
If an art enthusiast can recall and describe a specific piece you have done along with the feelings it evoked, rather than having a general impression of you as the artist who does “such and such” then congratulations! You’ve hit a home run. Hit a few more like that and you’re well on your way.
Here are links to a couple of bloggers with wonderful insights on the subject: