Secrets to Understanding the NYC Art World


Have you ever wanted to break into the New York City art world and become an established mainstream professional artist?  Have you ever really given much thought to how the mainstream gallery system works, how it is set up?

NYC Art World
Grand Street in Soho in Manhattan

I've lived in NYC for almost a decade.  I've been represented by galleries in Soho and in the elite Chelsea Art District, both in Manhattan.  During that time I've learned quite a bit about how galleries operate and choose their artists. In this article and in articles to come,  I am going to reveal my most cherished secrets about the elusive world of the arts.

The first thing that you need to understand, and maybe most importantly, is that the galleries are broken down into a hierarchy.  There are basically 4 tiers or levels of galleries.

1) Emerging or newly established galleries

These are the galleries that have been in operation for 5 years or less. They are easier to approach and become affiliated with, but may not be well-connected in the art world as a whole. They may not have many important clients or collectors or may not be getting reviews in the major art magazines. They may go out of business quickly, as many galleries try to compete.

2) Mid-level galleries

These galleries have been in operation for 6 to 10 years. They are have a proven track record and are harder to approach for the beginning artist.

3) Well-established galleries

These galleries have been in business for 10 years or longer. They are well established in the art community and are well-connected. They will have many art critic affiliations from the major publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Art in America, and many others.  Artists represented by these galleries can expect to have reviews for their exhibitions by art critics from the major art publications mentioned above.  One gallery that is a clear example of this category is Gallery Henoch in the Chelsea Art District.

NYC Art World
Gallery Henoch in the Chelsea Art District of Manhattan

So how does an artist navigate through this maze of information and use it to their advantage?

If you are just starting out in your art career, your main goal should be just to casually meet gallery owners and gallery directors who show the kind of work that you produce. Please see my previous article Top 3 Ways to Meet NYC Art Dealers. 

 Secrets of the NYC Art World

In my eBook "Secrets to Selling Art," I give you the basics to understand the gallery hierarchy in large art markets such as the Chelsea arts district in New York City.  This is one of the main chapters in my ebook. And I go into a lot of detail to describe the 4 main levels of galleries.  Click here to read more about Secrets to Selling Art.

These revolutionary ideas are my own and have come from years of examining the New York City art galleries. I think it's extremely important to understand the levels of galleries because I see so many artists get stuck in the lower level galleries. Their careers don't move forward because they don't understand that they are operating in a very low-level gallery. A low-level gallery can't help your career very much.

Here are some of the key factors that make up a true Level 4 art gallery:

  1. 10 years or longer in business
  2. Well connected with many major curators and art critics from major publications
  3. Many substantial art collectors who buy and fuel the gallery's business

The whole point of your art career is to move up through the gallery hierarchy into the premier Level 4 galleries. You are not, of course, going to begin your career in a Level 4 gallery.   But your career path should certainly take you there in time.  Secrets to Selling Art gives you a clear strategy for getting there.

You begin your career in Level 1 galleries and gain experience and mastery of your craft there. Then, in time, you will gain the necessary connections and skills that will move you to the Level 4 galleries.

Again, these points are covered in-depth in the ebook.  I explain each gallery level and the steps you need to take to make it successfully through the  hierarchy into the upper level art galleries. Click here to read more about Secrets to Selling Art.

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  1. Pingback: Secrets to Understanding the NYC Art World (via Gary Bolyer Fine Art) « Psilomelane

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