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[teacherartexchange] Why People Buy Art? (Meaning)


From: Judy Decker (judy.decker_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Fri Jun 24 2005 - 08:45:57 PDT

Greetings Art Educators,

Getty list has been discussing meaning vs technique. I thought this
recent newsletter from Robert Genn meshed with this thread, so I asked
him for permission to share it. Continue to put meaning into your
lessons. I have purchased a lot of art - all for what it means to me.
There is a lot of personal symbolism in the art I make.

Why they buy

June 24, 2005

For some of us it's a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Why do
people buy art? How do they choose? What motivates them? If I
had fifty cents for every time someone has asked this over the
past few years, I could purchase that new Bentley.

I once painted a Dalmatian that was jumping up and kissing a
girl who was wearing a spotted dress. It wasn't anybody's
typical subject. Over a period of twenty years I sent that
painting to thirteen different galleries. Every time it came
back I shipped it off again to somewhere else. I liked the
painting. One fine day, surprise, surprise, there was a cheque
in the mail and a note that caught my eye--"Girl with
Dalmatian"--16 x 20--sold.

By telephone the dealer told me that the man who bought it had
a Dalmatian and three daughters. This confirmed to me that one
of the main motivators is simply "connection." Look at it this
way--paintings are on a quest to find someone. The darling
things are just seeking a little love. And if they don't give,
they don't get. It's my feeling that for every painting, no
matter how obtuse, there's somebody. But if what a work of art
has to give is pretty esoteric, like my Dalmatian, it might
take some time. And art that gives less may take until

Before I get ambushed for talking about "catering," I'll
mention some of the other reasons people buy. It's not that
anyone has to pay attention to any of this--in some ways it's a
waste of energy--but these are the facts: People buy because
they are sold--either by someone else or themselves. They buy
because they want to enhance their lives. Because what they see
reminds them of something. Because there's a story behind the
art or the artist. Because they want to get rid of
money--sometimes lots of it. They want to invest. They need to
make a gift. Their neighbors have something like it. They want
to look smart, sensitive or clever. They want to have something
on the wall. They already have a taupe chesterfield or a maroon
Berber carpet. They want to encourage somebody or become a
benefactor. Like a Bentley owner, they may just want to look
good. And last but not least, they may actually buy because for
some unknown, deep-seated, atavistic reason they can't explain,
they just can't live without it. These last are the buyers you
feel like jumping up on and kissing.

Best regards,


PS: "When you do a thing with your whole soul and everything
that is noble within you, you always find your counterpart."
(Camille Pissarro)

(c) Copyright 2005 Robert Genn. This can not be published without
permission from Robert Genn

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Judy Decker

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