Art residencies give artists the space and time to create and there are over 1,500 art residencies worldwide. Many of these are run by private patrons, nonprofits, schools, art institutions and artists themselves. But recently, commercial galleries are starting more of their own residencies and keeping their artists happy, inspired and coming back.
Why dealers and galleries are starting their own
Until recently, it was pretty uncommon to find private art dealers and commercial galleries starting their own residencies. Hosting their own residencies—and keeping artists happy enough to stay—gives their programs dynamism and a competitive edge in an evolving art market.
As one of the first to do so, Vienna-based dealer Ursula Krinzinger started her first residency in Croatia in 1976 following an inspirational stay there with performance artist Marina Abramović. She later expanded to Hungary, Sri Lanka and Vienna.
More recently, other large galleries have stepped into the fray:
- Thomas Dane: In late 2017, the London gallery launched theirs in Naples, Italy.
- Hauser & Wirth: Since 2015, the global mega-gallery started offering 1-3 month stints in the town of Bruton in Southwest England.
- Catinca Tabacaru: The New York gallery is in the third year of its program, the CTG Collective Residency.
How these new residencies differ
- They’re more about hosting fewer artists (or maybe just one) at a time, emphasizing the connection to a place versus a group of other artists.
- This means helping artists disconnect from art heavy cities like New York and London and to provide opportunities at destinations that shake up their daily lives.
- They pay for just about everything and especially travel, room and board whereas traditional ones might charge fees. Even smaller galleries are helping by donating air miles to fly artists in.
- Some galleries are located in Brazil or China where import taxes or customs are punitive, something that’s avoided by having art produced there.
They may connect residents with artists outside their roster, students and the community where they’re situated.
If only we could join them
The benefit of a residency is not just a matter of “getting away from it all” and being able to focus on creating. It can also mean focusing on the act of creating without having to produce. Many residencies are okay with artists not producing any finished work by the end, allowing the craft to take precedence over the product. This means artists are free to explore new directions away from both the influence of their original communities and perhaps even their artist peers, but also the sense of urgency of having “something to show for it.” There’s a major and often undiscussed difference between an artist and a creative. The latter has to adhere to (relatively) strict parameters of time, budget, and creative restriction. Artists, on the other hand, are left to their devices and therefore able to create on their own terms which typically allows for the best work possible, and not “the best work, given the limitations.”