Gallery Visits and the Future of Art

This week, our class had our first virtual gallery visits! If this had been in person, I think I would be initially intimidated as I have never stepped foot in a gallery and the gallery world seems like an entirely different universe, but the virtual transition over zoom actually helped create a more relaxed environment. Despite a few technological complications with internet service, we didn’t miss out too much on anything had we been there in person, and we were able to see the artworks at close angles to appreciate the details. I’m especially appreciative of this as the two artists whose works were displayed, Keegan Monaghan and Alex Dodge, both utilized the medium of painting to create insanely physical textures, the latter creating works that blended childhood motifs of stuffed animals with technology that I really admired.

Alex Dodge, Roger Sitting, 2020, oil and acrylic on polyester, 54 x 40 inches, 137.16 x 101.60 cm

During both visits with James Fuentes’ gallery and the Klaus Gallery, we were able to speak with the respective founders and talk about their beginnings and what it’s like to work in the industry. James and Sam come from unique backgrounds in the gallery world, as Sam was a working artist before founding Klaus, and James having grown up Latino in the Bronx and not having access to the art world at a young age. While I’m not extremely familiar with the gallery world, what I’ve heard of it can paint a picture of elitism and class issues, but it’s heartening to hear that your success isn’t solely dependent on your original wealth.

James also talked about how while he has been transforming some of his business models to be virtual in response to COVID, he believes that art is fundamentally meant to be viewed and consumed in a physical space. This led to an interesting generational debate in the class, with many people thinking that we will primarily consume media and art in a virtual manner in the future, with many welcoming it, and viewing Jame’s ideas about art as perhaps too antiquated. My opinion lies somewhere in the middle however. While I think physcially viewing artwork is the superior method, this of course isn’t always possible. Even if COVID was not an issue, museum and gallery spaces are not always accessible to everyone, especially working class people. Though viewing works on a tiny iphone screen may not be the most pleasant way to look at art, smartphones are more accessible to a larger swath of the population across class, and I have discovered more of my favorite artists and works through the internet or social media than I have by visiting museums. At any rate, our lives are increasingly spent online, so along with most other fields, I foresee art becoming even more digitized in the future.