The market place for art goods: how a gallery works

The market place for art goods: how a gallery works


As a gallery owner, I notice time and again that many people know little about galleries and are therefore afraid to look around. Maybe they are unsure about how to behave or simply do not know how a gallery works – a problem that I want to solve with the following lines. So let’s take a look at how to visit an art gallery.

What people who are insecure about art gallery visits need to know is that galleries function much like retail stores. If the visitor likes a work of art, he or she asks for the price and comes to an agreement with the gallery owner. Once the artwork is paid for, the customer gets to take it home or have it sent home.

There is no need to be shy! Don’t be afraid to come in. A visit to the gallery is free and nobody is forced to buy anything.

In Kiel, where I live, I reckon there are between five and ten galleries. If you’re interested in art, you can have a great stroll through the city’s art collections. Openings are also a great opportunity to visit galleries. Usually, you don’t have to register for them and you get a chance to meet the artist and the gallery owner right away.


The price can be negotiated

You see, visiting an art gallery is simple: You just come in to browse and when you like something, you ask for the price. Some galleries have prices posted directly on the artwork. I have a separate price list on display. Unlike in most German retail stores, you are allowed to negotiate the price in a gallery. The price for a work of art is ultimately made up of the artist’s ideas and the commission for the gallery owner – usually the price is not higher than what you would pay for a piece of nice furniture or  jewellery. How expensive artwork is in a gallery depends on factors such as reputation or the artist’s fame.

However, at the end the artist determines the price and the limits for negotiation. When setting the price, the gallery owner also takes into account advertising materials and room rental, for example – all of which costs money, of course.

Ultimately, the group of people who buy from galleries is very diverse. Personally, I am most sympathetic to buyers who really fall in love with a piece and who think the price is justified. The purchase of a work of art is something very individual. Most artworks are unique and so are the reasons why people buy them. Some buy art because they look for a highly individual present, some want to decorate their house and others see their purchase as a financial investment. Whatever your reason might be, galleries are exciting art spaces and always worth a visit! Just come by and have a look at my current exhibitions in Kiel. And if you are still unsure how to behave correctly, do not hesitate to ask!


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