Market Promise in Emerging Painters...What's the Deal?

"What's the Deal?" aims to provide artists, collectors, and art enthusiasts with an opportunity to hear the opinions of individuals that help run the art world. We have an amazing network of prominent art dealers and gallerists ready and willing to answer your questions. For our first "What's the Deal?" post, Heather Marx, Co-Owner, Marx & Zavattero, answers a question about identifying market promise in emerging painters. As always, we encourage you to share your opinion in the comments section.

If we use your question on our blog, you will receive a free issue of New American Paintings, not to mention the opinion of an experienced art world professional. So keep those questions coming (Instructions on how to ask them at the bottom of the post).

Question: What criteria do art dealers look for in identifying market promise in emerging painters?

Answer: I look for consistent, engaging and well thought out bodies of work created over a period of time. One strong body of work against the backdrop of other work that does not demonstrate half as much of the ingenuity, freshness and strength of the best work is never a good sign and will lead to too much volatility down the road. Art is very subjective and a dealer’s taste is very personal so a set of criteria is difficult to pin down, but I look for a sense of purpose to the work. A clear vision that is articulated well both visually and literally by the artist generally demonstrates maturity, drive, and poise which are key factors in any promising emerging painter. I also find promise in a painter who has digested the history of painting, but creates new, significant ways of seeing that is unique to them. Market promise is a tricky notion, but if an emerging painter shows an innate talent for painting, and can back that up with confidence, a sense of beauty and power, they have a great chance of succeeding. - Heather Marx, Marx & Zavattero, San Fancisco


Established in 2001 as Heather Marx Gallery and renamed in 2008, Marx & Zavattero are well known for exhibiting and representing artists who engage in a variety of practices indicative of a strong, singular voice. Themes that bridge many of our artists' work are: process, identity, political/social/environmental critique, beauty, and dark humor - and most significantly - a sense of bold irreverence to trends.

For over a decade, Marx & Zavattero have maintained their provocative gallery program and succeeded in continuing to promote their artists, shape their careers, and forge lasting relationships with collectors, curators, and museums. The gallery currently represents 18 artists who are established on the forefront of a contemporary national and international art dialogue. The gallery has mounted over 90 solo and group exhibitions at its San Francisco space, and has also coordinated and participated in many significant solo and group museum exhibitions and high-profile art fairs across the United States and in Europe, in which gallery artists were featured.

Marx & Zavattero's passion has been, and continues to be, the direction of a space and program that feels alive - challenging people's prejudices both socially and aesthetically - and promoting artists who take a constant risk by creating intensely personal work. The gallery is currently relocating to a new ground floor space in San Francisco in late fall of 2012.

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