Buying Art – The Basics: Part XI — A Few of My Favorite Comments ...NOT!

Arts & Culture: We started participating in art & antique shows some 25 years ago. In the beginning I found some of the comments people made quite amusing, but 25 years later I am still hearing the same ones — so I decided to list, in no particular order, a few of the comments that most art dealers would rather not hear while doing a show:

1. That painting is worth more than my house! Believe me, most dealers know that some of the works they offer for sale are more expensive than most homes; not much we can do about that. And you should be aware that most serious private collections exceed the value of the homes they are in.

2. I would have to sell my house to buy that painting! That sort of information is better left unsaid.

3. Did you paint all of these paintings? Come on ... most of us have wall tags with the names of each artist, along with their birth and/or death dates. Please take a few moments to read the tags before asking that question.

4. These are not old paintings, they look too new! If a work of art was properly cared for, it can look as good as the day it left the artist's easel. And if the paintings you own do not look as good, maybe they have issues that need to be addressed.

5. I have no more wall space! Look, give me a few hours in your home and I will rearrange your works so that you can hang at least another 20 paintings; and if that does not work, I know a carpenter who can quickly cover your windows with plywood and sheetrock!

6. I like that painting, but if I bought it a few parts need to be painted out! What! Look, after you buy a work, you can do whatever you want; but I do not want to know about it.

7. That is a nice work, but I have a better one at home! All I will say to that is: beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

And here are a few things we do not like to see:

1. Brochure hogs. These are people who walk into booths and take every piece of free printed material the gallery has (some take multiple copies); and the worst part is that most of these people never look at the works on display. Some of them even wheel around little carts to hold all their spoils. I have always wondered what people do with all of the material they collect? Decoupage? Wallpaper the living room? Frame and hang the images? Sell them at a local flea market? Someone has got to let me know. Here is something these people need to keep in mind: all of that printed material costs the gallery money and each gallery only brings a limited supply to any particular show — so please don't become a brochure hog. And if you must take the items, a least spend a few moments looking at the original works hanging on the walls — at least the dealer will feel their might be a reason why you took the brochures.

2. Chair hogs. These are people who have no interest in the works being show, but take a seat in someone's booth and sit there for an awfully long time (I have seen people sit in booths for more than 1 hour). In addition, many of them see nothing wrong with talking on their cell phone the entire time they are seated. Sorry, but that is just rude. That booth is the dealer's place of business/office; so if you need to take a break, most shows offer public areas where you can sit, rest and even talk on your phone.

3. Space hogs. These are people who block the entire front of your booth in order to stop and talk to their friends (and I have seen people stand in front of a booth for 30 minutes or more). Again, please have a little courtesy for the dealer — not only do the booths cost a great deal of money, but we are only there for a short period of time. If you need to catch-up with old friends, find one of the public spaces in the show.

4. Sales people. I know that many "art related" industries think that going to a show affords them a great opportunity to see a whole group of dealers in one location — and you know something, you are correct. But what you need to remember is that the dealers have spent a lot of time and money to prepare for the show and want to spend their time talking with potential buyers and current clients. If you are going to stop by, then make it a quick hello — most of us do not want to spend 20 or 30 minutes (during the show hours) listening to a sales pitch.

It is important to keep the following in mind. Dealers participate in shows to see existing clients and/or meet new ones, educate the public and hopefully sell some of their works. In addition, many are very happy to have people just come by and look (even if they have no intention of buying). And there are even a few of us who will happily talk with people whose interests are solely educational. Just remember the following: some of the comments you might want to say are better left unsaid (we have heard them a thousand times before), try not to sit in, or block-up, the booths if you have no interest in the works being shown and please leave a few brochures for the other visitors.

Howard L. Rehs
Rehs Galleries, Inc.
JustLuxe Contributor

Howard L. Rehs

After graduating from New York University in 1981, with a degree in Art History, I moved to London for a year to study and buy 19th century British Victorian art for our gallery. Since then my interests have included all schools of art from the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, I am considered one of the leading art dealers in 19th century French Academic and Realist painting and the world's exp...(Read More)

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