Justan, It may be silly but this is the way the world works.
Oy what a mess. Okay, let me go through this again to clarify a bit:A good gallery may take a piece -- photograph, painting, etc. -- either as an outright purchase or on consignment. An experienced gallery owner normally will buy a piece outright only if he's quite sure he can sell it within a reasonable time. But the markup on the purchase is going to be better than the commission he'd make on consignment.
The content above is logical.The legitimate way for a gallery to reduce risk is to take pieces on consignment.
The statement above is nonsensical and begs to rationalize means of resale as “legitimate” and by inference, not legitimate. Any agreed method of resale that doesn’t violate law is “legitimate.” That is why the statement is silly. I think you probably meant to write “traditional” rather than “legitimate.” And I’d go along with that. But that is not what you wrote. The artist is responsible to deliver complete, saleable pieces -- in this case prints properly signed, matted and framed. The gallery owner insures the contents of the gallery, including the consignments, pays for the advertising, pays the general overhead including wages of gallery workers, etc., and may or may not bear the price of an "opening" for a new artist. That's why, unless the consignor is a regular seller, the gallery's commission on a sale may be 50% or even more. The consignor bears the cost of producing the complete, saleable piece, and he also bears the time cost of the part of his inventory that hangs on the wall before a sale.
Above is one model of resale. I'm guessing many here don’t know it but when one goes into many, even most larger retail stores, the vendors pay the store for their shelf space. Many vendors also stock and maintain inventory of their products within the store themselves. FWIW I see no functional difference between a 50% commission and a 30% commission + a wall fee. The latter is in fact a better value for the seller, unless, of course their product sells for less than the hanging fee.To me, a "gallery" owner who charges for display space and has no voice in what gets hung isn't running a gallery. He's a landlord, renting space on his walls.
First, I know of no comment within this thread that suggested that a gallery owner has no voice in what gets hung on his or her shop. So yours is a traditional straw-man argument. Second, the vast majority of gallery owners are essentially landlords, who rent space on their walls. The form of payment may vary from straight commission to consignment to any combination of commission consignment and a fee for wall space, but it still amounts to space rental. That is why the comment is silly.On the other hand, with the economy in its present condition gallery owners are going to be very careful and very picky.
This comment is logical and not owing to the economy. If you have a vested interest you logically would act with prudence. Not that all do at all times, of course.It's really hard to sell photographs unless you're in New York City, San Francisco, or Santa Fe.
This is again a nonsensical statement and is what I was commenting on primarily as silly in my previous statement. It presumes that few photographs are sold outside of these 3 cities. There are probably 30 or more shops within 10 miles of where I write this who sell photos primarily. Every larger city in the country and at least the western world is about the same. While I didn’t make a formal study, common logic suggests they would agree with me that your comment is silly. Otherwise they wouldn’t have shops, now would they?
I have no expectation or pretensions of how galleries may or "ought to" make a living. That gives me a different view from some views as expressed in this thread. If I'm out of line then I sincerely apologize.