Ask a Gallery Owner | Fine Art Vs. Decorative Art?

I just lately been given an electronic mail that is reflective of a range of responses and queries I have viewed on our social media webpages and in e-mail. Numerous artists have wondered what my ideas are with regards to high-quality artwork vs. decorative art, as this artist does in her email:

A person of the things I have recognized about the do the job you have shared as “recent sales” is that these parts generally appear to be “decorative,” as opposed to “fine art.” Whilst I know that these definitions may perhaps be outdoors of the dialogue quite a few art industry experts have publicly, I wonder if your gallery sells more of just one type of artwork than the other. Do your consumers typically seek art that enhances the decor of their homes, or do they motivation artwork that gets to be an emotional contact stage, as nicely as a visual 1? I consider they do both of those, but how many are acutely aware of the big difference, or care? Do you see a demographic change in between these styles of consumers/collectors?


I uncovered this e mail thoughtful and sincere, but quite a few of the communiques I receive on this topic are considerably combative – “The artwork you promote,” they appear to say, “isn’t fine artwork.”

A rapid appear at the dictionary presents us these definitions:

Decorative Artwork

1. artwork that is meant to be helpful as effectively as beautiful, as ceramics, home furniture, jewellery, and textiles.
2. Commonly, ornamental arts. any of the arts, as ceramics or jewelry making, whose functions are designed to be valuable.
3. will work of decorative artwork collectively.

Great Art

1. a visual artwork regarded as to have been developed principally for aesthetic reasons and judged for its beauty and meaningfulness, exclusively, painting, sculpture, drawing, watercolor, graphics, and architecture.

Looks pretty simple – if a piece of art has some perform, it’s thought of ornamental. If it is purely aesthetic, it is high-quality art. By these definitions most of what I sell fits the definition of fine artwork.

This evidently is not how JK is imagining of the big difference, however, and most of the other comments I see in this regard also are not drawing the line based on the dictionary definitions. Instead, a lot of artists think about artwork purchased for its attractive attributes (its ability to seem fantastic with a couch, or on a wall of a unique color, for case in point) to be of a lesser value, although true art is bought for its intrinsic inventive price (?) or probably not procured at all due to the fact it’s also “fine.”

Riot of Colour by John Horejs | A short while ago ordered by clients who were being wanting for a piece for their dining area. They appreciate their new portray – that’s “fine” with me!

I may possibly not be comprehending the distinction flawlessly, but I get the sense a whole lot of artists really feel their own work is elaborate or tough, and is therefore less likely to be appreciated by the standard public and offer. They really feel their artwork is thus “fine artwork.” Art that appeals to a wide viewers and sells speedily is  “decorative.” In an additional version of the dialogue, the wonderful artwork is the do the job that is likely to close up in a museum one day, but not always in buyers’ dwelling rooms.

So what does all of this imply to me as a gallery owner? How a lot time do I spend thinking about the “fine” character of an artist’s function right before agreeing to stand for the artist? Do I really feel responsible about marketing “decorative art?”

When the query and difficulty is complex, my remedy is very simple: I don’t expend a one imagined on this concern.

I sense that high-quality artwork is in the eye of the beholder. I search for artwork that passions and excites me and that will deliver an attention-grabbing dimension to our gallery. As the electronic mail above says, I’m on the lookout for art that has an “emotional contact point.” That’s my fine artwork. A visitor to the gallery could possibly truly feel the similar and turn out to be motivated to acquire the piece, or they may well not working experience any connection and stroll ideal out the door.

To the email’s place that some prospective buyers may well be more determined by the way a piece will in good shape into their decor than the way the work resonates with them, this does take place, certainly, but in my practical experience this happens in a minority of profits. It is just about usually the case the our clients say, “I enjoy this piece,” and then “where will we position it?”

Are there moments when a shopper arrives in and says, “I’m searching for art for a particular space”? Certain. Are there situations when a shopper buys a piece because it will match a sofa? Indeed. Do I refuse to provide artwork to these customers? No.

My hope is that above time I can teach my collectors to have a further appreciation for the art and a better knowing of what it is that draws them to a specific piece. Art collecting is a process – flavor is refined over time.

I depart the issue about the very long-expression artistic value of the artwork to the museum curators. At the threat of sounding a little crass, I’m in the small business of selling art.

A lot more importantly, I’m not at all positive that it would be effective for me to consider to establish what’s fine art and what is not. I have put in a large amount time studying art history, and in my looking through it seems that it is pretty hard for anybody to know which art is heading to be wonderful on a historic scale in the instant the art is remaining created and on the market place. There were heated battles in excess of whether or not the impressionists ended up generating wonderful artwork. The abstract expressionists had been derided as hacks.

Again, the question is outside of my fork out grade.

The good information in all of this is that no issue what you are producing, there are buyers out there to whom your get the job done is good art. Let us cease stressing about regardless of whether art is good or not, and get out there and discover them!

What Do You Consider About High-quality Artwork vs. Ornamental Artwork?

Do you make a difference involving high-quality artwork and “decorative” art? Do you really feel galleries should aim on displaying much more fantastic artwork? Do you take into consideration your get the job done to be fine art? How a lot do you feel about the historic importance of your get the job done? Be sure to share your views, expertise, and opinions in the responses beneath.

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