Brisbane dealer Andrew Baker agrees that rules around length are redundant in today’s market. Established for more than 19 years, he re- calls: “When I started, shows were generally four weeks long. Then it became five weeks. Now, it is more random. Scheduling at the start of year is difficult, working around Easter and public holidays which disrupt the audience.” While shorter exhibitions might suggest more sales, which often happens early in the season, Baker says that this ultimately depends on the artist. “Each artist has their own profile when it comes to sales. If people are waiting for work, most sales are made well be- fore the exhibition opens. It varies a lot. Actually, I don’t consider sales [a factor] at all.”
Sullivan+Strumpf’s exhibition schedule may suggest that successful exhibitions vary any- where from three weeks to five, but Joanna Strumpf notes that this is a little misleading. “Often we are actually installed a week or more before the opening, but the actual opening date may vary because we might be travelling to our gallery in Singapore or art fairs. Sometimes, if we anticipate a tricky installation, we might want to schedule extra time before we have to be officially open. Sometimes when there are events on, like a biennale, we might run a show longer to offer the artist more exposure.” And when it comes to sales “generally speaking, they happen prior to the opening,” says the gallerist.
Ryan Moore of recently opened gallery Fine Arts, Sydney, has presented six shows to date, mostly running between six and eight weeks. Like Dinan, he doesn’t believe the GFC is relevant to current habits. “There are almost as many art worlds as there are artists and galleries. Every artist is different, every collector is different. In the gallery world, there aren’t any rules, but there are lots of conventions. And the way that we interpret these conventions is what makes it interesting.”
Like other contemporary manifestations, it seems the key to commercial exhibition success these days is flexibility and a bespoke galley model individually tailored to fit today’s changing collector.