What does it take to be a dealer?December 18th, 2006
Still life by Hanneke van Oosterhout, detail
Last Friday I helped Hanneke and Maurice set up the exhibition at Galerie de Provenier. While doing this, I started to ask myself, “What does it take to be an art dealer?”
Reine Claudes en Kruisbessen by Hanneke van Oosterhout
14 x 18 cm
oil on panel
Normally I think of an art dealer as someone with a gallery. But is this a requirement? Consider an alternative. You know someone in your town (say in Kansas) who you think would like to buy one of Hanneke’s paintings (which are in The Netherlands). You take this person to Hanneke’s web site and say a bit about Hanneke and how you feel about her work. Your guest sees the painting, likes the price, and buys the painting online with PayPal. What have you done? Have you not acted as an art dealer for Hanneke? Should you not receive a commission for what you did, say, 10% of the sales price?
I’ve discussed this idea with Hanneke. She thinks it is interesting. I discussed it with an economist (an expert, but not an art expert) and the economist finds it a good idea. What do you think? Would this be a good idea, or is it nuts?
Let me make some things clear. Hanneke would not sell the pictures that are in the gallery this way, this would be for artwork that is not in any “off-line” gallery. And at the moment, she is not even trying this idea. But it seems worth discussing. What are the potential problems? Would you like to start being a dealer?