An art gallery is a room or building where you can see works of art. Since the middle of the 15th century, these rooms have served as a place for displaying artwork. The first art gallery was built in the 1590s to house art. Before then, art galleries were long covered passages. Today, art galleries are often located in museums and art centers.
The programs of a gallery play a significant role in its identity. They can range from a roster of artists to a conceptual framework or a particular area of focus. Most galleries emphasize their role as facilitators for artists, but some galleries are known for their strong programs. The three art galleries we’ll look at today have exemplary programs.
The art gallery is often the first link between the artist’s studio and the art market. Many galleries are in collaboration with artist estates and buy works from other dealers, collectors, and even auctions. These galleries then sell the works for a higher price, generating a profit in the process. A gallery can also help an artist by handling their financials and providing other services, such as book publishing and promotion.
Traditionally, large, expensive works of art were commissioned by political leaders and religious institutions, and were often displayed in temples, churches, and palaces. These buildings were not open to the public, but eventually began to function as early art galleries. Similarly, wealthy Roman collectors often donated collections to temples. Versailles even opened its art collection to the public on occasions.
Historically, art galleries have thrived in clusters in large cities and towns. The proximity of art galleries created informal rituals like first Friday events and coordinated first-night events. Today, this trend has evolved with the concept of popup art galleries, which use vacant commercial spaces for art exhibitions. This practice was first called Artomatic and has been repeated periodically since 1999 in the Washington metro area.
A visit to an art gallery is a feast for the senses. It is a celebration of art, culture, and community. Whether you choose to view a painting or sculpture, an art gallery opens the doors to a new world. You can also learn more about the history of an art gallery by visiting a gallery.