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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Laughing or Buying

Not all artists sell their work, but very many do...or try to, at least.  It can be a very discouraging enterprise, treking from gallery to gallery or art show to art show--sitting up displays, tearing them down a few hours later, stowing them away in various vehicular manifestations artist have been known to jerry rig to contain their work.  Of course there's nothing at all new in this endeavor now or in the past, only different means of conveyance, perhaps.

Though the darling of art collectors today, the Impressionists in France during the 1870s and 80s were hardly an immediate success. Rebuffed and discouraged, they were reduced to organizing their own exhibitions in place of that of the official Academic Salon. Dubbed the Salon de Refuse', these shows over a period of a half-dozen years, ranged from small scandals to major disasters. Scorned by officialdom, critics, and the public, viewers laughed and ridiculed their work, and most pointedly, did NOT buy.

Paul Durand-Ruel, 1910, Renoir
However over time, a few enlightened collectors did step forward to purchase their work, and the true champion amongst these, was a Parisian gallery owner named Paul Durand-Ruel, who bought more Impressionist paintings than perhaps seemed sensible at the time. Unfortunately, he did not have any major success in selling them until two major exhibitions he held, not in Paris, but in the United States in 1886 and 1887. Durand-Ruel put it suscinctly: "The American public does not laugh. It BUYS!"

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