I have been noticing a lot of my peers creating exclusively museum sized artworks and/or installations, but most of them are failing to ever sell a piece they make. And sure, large works do have their place — a lot of my work is on the larger side because, to be honest, making it smaller would diminish its narrative powers. But the reality is, almost nobody has enough room to really hang or exhibit such a piece in their home and making such large works can be detrimental to our ability to sell.
A commonly overlooked fact is that most people that buy art in the range of 100€-5000€ do not posses large enough homes to be able to accommodate such works. Even if they do have a 3 or 4 bedroom apartment, the probability of them having a large amount of empty wall space available is actually quite low.
And I think a lot of us artists do tend to misconstrue the needs and wants of potential collectors and presuppose that they will cherish the work we did as lovingly and with the same amount of care and awe as we would, if we had the ability to present it in our homes.
The reality though is that people don’t start decorating their homes with art; firstly, they think about their kitchen and bath, the bed and living room wardrobes and to be honest, usually more attention is given to the size and feel of the kitchen table and living room sofa than the actual artworks that might accompany all of the furniture in their home.
Rarely do people buy a sofa to match their paintings, it’s more likely to be the other way around. And this fact does speak a lot about the ways and habits of our potential collectors and how they decide on which work to buy and hang or place inside their home.
Even people with 3m or 4m high ceilings do not tend to automatically collect larger works — the last thing they would want is a painting to overpower the other furniture. So, they buy medium-sized paintings (by medium, I mean in the 50 cm x 70 cm and 70 cm x 100 cm range) or small works, not much larger than an A3 piece of paper.
Another thing to also consider is also framing and the sole cost of a frame for a 1,5 m x 2 m sized work is incredibly expensive. In addition to that, the weight of such a frame (and work) tends to put a lot of pressure on a wall and requires a strong mounting system to adequately hang it. And with quite a few homes now being built with drywalls, it’s actually not that simple to hang a 50 kg painting, even if you have the wall space available.
My point is; large works require quite a lot of effort and planing to be hung, and adequately exhibited in ones home. A lot more than smaller works — and you can even combine several different smaller paintings to get more variation in your collection on the same amount of space (making not only the collection more vibrant, but also diversifying your investment, if you are indeed collecting for investment reasons too).
And let’s not even go into larger sculptures — just imagine the amount of planing and difficulties a 200 kg piece of stone or plaster will require to even be transported through your front door, let alone from the artist’s studio. And 200 kg really isn’t that big if we’re talking about marble!
I get that larger art has a particular power that is impossible to replicate with smaller pieces, but the truth is, it’s a real hassle to sell, transport and exhibit. And for anyone of us, that is aiming at selling our work online or even in smaller galleries, such sizes should sadly be off the table. At least in the beginning.
They don’t just tie-up our capital — it’s much easier to sell 10 works for 1,000€ than one for a 10,000€ — but also space, time and other valuable resources. I myself have a list of all the larger projects I would like to do, tucked away in my home that mostly just gathers dust — unless I’m adding new ideas to it.
And the only time I’ll take it out of the drawer and really give any real thought to the various projects I would like to make on a grander scale, is if I actually get an opportunity to get them funded in full. And even then, I might just make a lot of smaller works, because the large-scale artworks may look incredible in a gallery or museum, but in reality, that’s about it.