Tom Otterness on the Gallery System

Question: What’s your relationship with galleries?

Tom Otterness: For years, Brooke Alexander, you know, for the first 15 years of my art world life, it was with Brooke Alexander and now I’m with Marlborough Gallery, so, you know, and it was one of the kinds of moments of my public, a breakthrough for me in the economics of making everything work was to… From the first Battery Park installation, I defined this complex work as a single work of art and… But I claimed the right to sell each individual element in it in the gallery, so that was the breakthrough. Usually public work they want a unique work, and then you would be hampered from making sales from it, so that was a solution for me ‘cause the nature of my work, I could, I could… What it allowed me to do is to spend above the commission amount, you know, Battery Park, I’ve probably spent $200,000 more than I was given in making the work as expensive as I could or it’s complex and that was made up for with gallery sales. So, the two things kind of balanced each other and I couldn’t do the public work without the private sale sort of subsidizing it. And the public work becomes a kind of RND from me, for the gallery, you know, that I can experiment in and do a lot of work in that arena and have a kind of free hand, and then from that, you can pick out work that might sell so…

Tom Otterness explains the switch from Brooke Alexander to Marlborough.

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