Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Something Old or Something New: Which to Exhibit in a Group Show?

Dreaming ©2007 Katherine Kean
oil on canvas 24 x 18"

In deciding what to put into a group exhibition, some of the decision making may already be done for you. Many times when one is invited to a group exhibition there is already a theme in place, which will limit your options. It could be as general as a small works show or as specific as work with the color red.  Also group shows tend to impose size restrictions such as nothing larger than 24 x 30".

There are often other rules - only work completed during the past 12 months, or two years, or three, or only works on paper.

Recently a friend was considering whether to exhibit an older piece that he already knew was a strong work, or something from a brand new series still forming. My advice:

There are pros and cons to both. I'd probably go with the new work as long as you have the strength of vision to not be put off if you don't like the feedback. I sometimes "protect" new work until I feel it's strong enough on it's own and my idea of the direction it's going is well established. I've had the experience of selling really new work that I actually would have benefited from keeping around in the studio while I worked on the rest of the series. While I was happy to have a sale, it felt like a little setback to not have it for a little longer to refer to.

On the other hand, positive support can energize you and exhibiting can be a good way to see if a piece stands on it's own, apart from the series. Also, if you're not going to be making more of your older work it probably won't help you much to create a big demand for it - unless you have plenty left over that you'd like to sell. But, take the venue into account - sometimes it feels better to show something that you already know is really strong.

What would you do in the same situation? Would you show something old or something new?


Kathryn Hansen said...

shows seem so themed now, it's not always easy to fit work into them. in those cases i think as long as the work is not older than 3 years either way works.

Unknown said...

I guess its a matter of personal decision, but you have written good arguments for either position. "Dreaming" is beautiful and would surely be admired in any exhibition. I also love "Shorter Warmer Days" below! Two gorgeous paintings!

Katherine Kean said...

Hi Kathryn, I know what you mean - especially for artists who already have a strong theme of there own.

Katherine Kean said...

Welcome Katherine - I agree, each situation will be different.

Thanks for coming by and thanks for your kind comments!

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