Cruising Some of the Art World’s Lingo

Democratization of art means that it should be accessible to all and enjoyed by everyone which should render the endeavor of art exploration and appreciation a hassle-free and pleasing experience. Unfortunately the art world can be quite intimidating for the enthusiasts who are freshly starting off on their journey; eager to fit into this new scene they would hesitate to inquire about the nuances of certain terms and the circulating lingo.

Of course, a google search would not deny the inquirer its assistance and would certainly render this whole article somewhat redundant but we feel it is not futile to share some of the common misconceptions and misinterpretations that most of us have dealt with at the onset of our art exploration journey.

One inquiry we keep being asked is, what is the difference between a gallerist, a curator and an art advisor or consultant?

While the tasks may intersect and overlap and at times performed by a single person if his or her education and expertise span those distinct areas, however most of the time; are completely different since the art world nowadays favors specialization, particularly during the last two decades’ surge in the art scene. 

A gallerist, according to a  dictionary’s definition is a person who owns an art gallery or who exhibits and promotes artists' work in galleries and other venues in order to attract potential buyers. This definition is accurate to a t, so voila. However this definition can stretch or contract according to that specific person, some gallerists are themselves the directors and managers of their own galleries or they may leave it to another person specialized in that area.

A gallerist can play a fundamental role in the life of an artist and essentially can drive the growth and success of that artist’s career. It will all depend on his set of professional skills, his connections in the art and business world and the power to  make those intended sales.

And although a gallerist can be a curator, oftentimes, galleries and museums hire curators to form those collections to be exhibited in their galleries or museums.

The art gallery remains one of the most important pillars of the art world today. It is where artists’ careers are first launched and where they are formally introduced to the public.

Artists are at the essence of the livelihood of galleries and are the most  important component of the art ecosystem, of course. They create the art that generate sales and attract the audience.

Curators, however, are responsible for assembling, cataloguing, managing and displaying a collection of exhibits in a museum or art gallery and might do so based on the request of the gallery or museum or any exhibiting body. Their job is to build up those collections, oftentimes in a specific area. They display the pieces of the collection in a way that can be interpreted holistically. Their work involves buying exhibits, arranging restoration of artifacts, identifying and recording items, arranging loans and organizing the exhibitions, as well as building the visual aids and literature for those events and the displayed items.

So are art advisors the same as gallerists and curators?

Art advisors usually advise their clients and consult on art and art investments without necessarily owning a gallery or curating a collection. They can be artists, creatives or scholars with a knowledge in the arts and design and would cater for the collector’s or buyer’s interests. They can be institutions or individuals who work with the galleries and art sellers or directly with the artists and advise on the pieces to be bought that is befitting a collection or a collector’s quest.

They are connoisseurs who can authenticate an artwork and evaluate its quality and value and can commission bespoke artwork by a certain artist for their client. Their ultimate goal is to serve the client. They are considered a bridge between the different entities and the link in the art ecosystem to their client.

Of course those are only a few of the distinctions we often get asked about, but to cruise the general lingo and jargon of the art world and delve into the meaning of terms and words, we find the MoMA website detailed and useful.