VINCENT, MEET MY WIFE!
“Honey, Van Gogh didn’t sell any paintings either in his lifetime!”
How many times is Vincent Van Gogh invoked when one’s paintings or other works of art don’t sell? It could be you looking in the mirror saying this or, as in my case, mentioning it to my wife.
The piece,or rather pieces, of art in question are my wife’s sculptures, specifically her barns.
The reference to Van Gogh came when she said that she was going to reduce the price of her 13 barns in the “Lost Farm” series and try to sell them at local stores, like bakeries, or at a sale that will take place one day at our place.
We live in the country where it seems that artists outnumber buyers. This is southern Quebec, wealthy in art tours, where people are invited to artists’ studio to admire and hopefully purchase their work and get to see where the art is produced. These tours are scattered over a very large area, from the town of Saint Jean-sur-Richelieu in the west (about 45 minutes southeast of Montreal) to North Hately, Quebec, another hour down the highway. However, this bit of information is most probably wrong; there are undoubtedly more tours east and west of this area, but you get the drift: there are literally thousands of artists living in the country who are making, at least some of them, outstanding work, but are having trouble selling them.
I think of the hours of research that went into the “Lost Farm” series, my wife going around to the many farms in the area where we live and either sketching or photographing them.
My wife finally gave up on her artists’ tour this year, which comprises four weekends, two in September and two in October. For all the scores of people who over the years have commented positively on her work, which also includes sculptures in “paper clay” besides the aforementioned barns, there were only handful who purchased.
Of course, I’m partial, but I do consider myself possessing good taste when it comes to art, and thankfully I love my wife’s work, whether it was during her pottery stage or now in her sculptural one. More times than I can think of I have told her that were she showing at galleries in New York City or Chicago or Boston or Toronto she would sell much more. “Young people who like abstract art will love your work,” I have said over and over.
My wife is special, and, then again, she’s not. When I read about the British artist, Damien Hirst, who recently sold a piece of art at a fair in London for over 800,000 pounds, it breaks my heart to see beautiful art selling for peanuts because that person is not “known”.
So, today, I mentioned Van Gogh, the artistic genius who couldn’t sell in his day. It didn’t make Naomi feel any better, my pep talks rarely do. What would make her feel better are sales (the barns are being reduced to between $125 and $300 — so we’re not talking about a lot of money). Compliments are one thing but getting one of these babies onto your coffee table is another.