Book review: Management of Art Galleries by Magnus Resch
Perfect weekend read and an eye-opener for a naive dummy like me. Approachable, enlightening, research-based, pro-business. Includes fascinating data and case studies of the biggest names in the field. Perspective of an insider. Essential reference book.
Longer version of the review, from my Goodreads profile:
Management of Art Galleries by Magnus Resch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Let's be clear - this is not an academic overview of different approaches towards managing an art gallery but rather a pretty much one-sided, straight-forward, pro-business advice from an art entrepreneur to gallerists and art dealers trying to survive in a passion-driven and highly competitive market. This doesn't mean the book denies social mission of a gallery, it's ethics, pro-art approach, a power of gallerist's charisma, or basic passion for the subject, but it clearly states that this is not enough to sustain a business.
One can agree or disagree with author's opinions, but it's worth reading, as the book is research-based, includes eye-opening data, and parallels from other industries. The main thesis [in my opinion, rightly] states that while other industries rethought their core structures (transportation was transformed by Uber, music industry - revolutionised by the iTunes, etc) in order to grow, art galleries just kept doing what they did for decades - often unsuccessfully - expecting a different result in already oversaturated market where everyone is doing pretty much the same thing: opening galleries in the same central areas, approaching same audiences, organising cliche-events, sending pretty-much same looking invitations to the same people, etc. There are things to learn from other industries, so why not apply models already invented elsewhere in communication, financial structuring, expansion, building and targeting the right audience, thinking outside the box, merging and collaborating, networking and nurturing relationships with both - artists and potential buyers. The book offers different directions to experiment on, though clearly states there is no "one right model" for everyone.
Next to simply explained and compared business models, research-based data, and personal opinions by the author himself, the book includes a number of case studies based on the interviews with the biggest names in the field. One could draw a conclusion, that most of those galleries did something differently in order to survive and stand out. For me personally this was the best part of the book, because these successful examples, though very different in their business model, showed the balance between pro-business and pro-art approaches.
I consider myself a dummy in the field, and I felt this book was both - easy to read and enlightening with a lot of research-based information. I would not dare to open an art gallery without reading this book first.
P.S. the book is beautifully designed and well-structured which only helps to grasp the reality behind clearly-presented data and focus on key-concepts presented.
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