Maria Anna Alp (Left), Alex Guofeng (Middle), and Paul Grosse (Right)
Our third interviewee in this series on art marketing is Paul Grosse, the director of ALP Galleries (alp-galleries.com)
(Mackey) We are interested in your feelings concerning the balance between art and art marketing. For example, there are artists like Takeshi Murakami and Jeff Koons where marketing and manufacturing play a large part in their careers. And there are artists who follow the Van Gogh model who do nothing but focus on art at the expense of their careers. There seems to be a fine line that is constantly shifting between maintaining an artistic reputation and being known as a sellout.
(Grosse) Well, I can’t blame the “marketing” types – artists must survive and be able to raise families, too. But quality comes first: without it, there is no “manufacturing”. The level of public awareness and auction results are certainly valid measures of an artist’s life performance. If his art is discovered only after his death, it does not help the artist any more – only his heirs!
(Mackey) Warhol seems to be regarded as a role model for contemporary artists in business. If so, do you think artists of today ask “What would Warhol do?”
(Grosse) Personally, I am fed up with the Warhol “hype”: anything that carries his name or face (even old photos) fetches top prices, and you see it everywhere in great quantities. I simply don’t get it… notwithstanding his eminent role in pop and art history in general. I think the market is oversold and will consolidate – on quite a high level, though. My advice: Don’t try to duplicate him.
(Mackey) Has the marketing of art changed since the 1960’s? Do you think it would be hard to picture Jackson Pollock merchandising his work as an artist like Kaws??
(Grosse) The art market has exploded since then, in particular since the 80s. I would certainly expect that an artist like Pollock would have taken the opportunity to merchandise his work and leverage it financially. And it would not have done harm to the pricing of his originals.
(Mackey) What would you consider before making a decision about art marketing?
(Grosse) The artist and his art must have reached a certain level of fame (exhibitions, museums, public art) before manufactured replicas will find buyers.
(Mackey) What’s over the top in terms of marketing? Is there a line not to be crossed?
(Grosse) Stay with high technical standards and do not overextend the editions (lithographs, prints, mounting); never go to the poster level (can’t make any money there, either).
(Mackey) Do you think artists need to take business classes to succeed in today’s art world?
(Grosse) I do indeed, and it don’t do harm: artist should know about the financial aspects of their profession; they are self-employed and small (or even midsize) entrepreneurs!
(Mackey) Who sets the standard? Is it okay if it’s in The Gagosian Store or sold through MoMA?
(Grosse) I don’t know about Gagosian, but MoMA sells posters, if I am not mistaken, and that is not the quality level I recommend.
There are very good dealers specializing in high quality “reproduced” art; go to www.djtfa.com, for example.
(Mackey) Do you think mass marketing brings more exposure to an artist?
(Grosse)(I am not in favor of “mass”; see above) Absolutely!
(Mackey) Could selling less expensive merchandise bring in people who normally wouldn’t be interested in an artist because of the cost?
(Grosse) Yes, indeed.
(Mackey) Why do you think artists market their work? Is it for exposure, to reach new markets, to make more money? Or a combination of these?
(Grosse) All three!
(Mackey) Thanking you in advance for answering these questions,
(Grosse) My pleasure!