Art has always been a societal marker. A portrayer and predictor of the times. A reflection of the zeitgeist. And throughout the history of the world, the presentation of artwork has fallen into two distinct categories – a considered and curated collection of works within a dedicated interior space usually frequented by the upper and middle classes, and the raw, natural rumblings of self expression that blossom, sometimes overnight, in the fabric and fringes of public space.
Art galleries do more than provide a platform for art. Throughout history, the rigmarole of an artists’ work being selected for representation and exhibition within a dedicated gallery space has ultimately meant that the work does two things; (1) it explores and explains the social and political climate of the times and (2) it presents a commercial opportunity for both the artist and the gallery. Like many things, art presented in the gallery context is often regarded for its relevance in terms of underlining trend and topics of global significance, whilst bringing together the high and middle classes of society in a melting pot of discussion and peacock behaviour. It is this convergence of far reaching demographics and cultures that fascinates. That articulates the yawning gap that sometimes exists between emerging artists and the gallery patrons that are drawn out to view their work in the hope that they will be the first to ‘discover’ the next big artist.
The voyeuristic appeal of observing the world’s affluent dictate the value of art – new and old – with all the sub-context that is involved has long been a artform in itself. In fact, it has informed the evolution of the gallery space today. While the traditional high street gallery struggles to maintain economic viability, it is the worlds largest galleries and their vernissages and events that continue to build momentum and acclaim for art and its demand.
Melbourne’s NGV International has become renown for its Gala events in line with other world leading art institutions around the world. The gala’s present the opportunity for performance. For outrageous displays of fashion and fascinating snapshots of society. The images from these events become historical markers and pieces of art themselves. Splashed across branding and digital media to form a new kind of aspiration and marketing appeal for both the audience and future emerging artists.
Eschewing this centuries old display of art in high society within the gallery context is the other end of the spectrum. What some deem the true artistic response to the status quo which will always be set by the majority (as opposed the wealthy minority). The artworks that emerge within the public space. Outside of the gallery…literally. Street art.