It seems to be, ie the bigger the canvas the 'better' it is perceived to be, the more likely it is to be in important (museum) collections, the more money it will get at auctions, the more fame will come to the artist, etc.

I know there are exceptions.

But have you ever seen a whole room in a museum given over to a small work? Me neither, but I've seen lots of walls, and indeed rooms, filled with a giant canvas.

From a personal perspective this is not a little worrying, as my work is getting smaller

and smaller

and smaller still

And that's not even getting into small Mail Art.

Wotcha think?


Views: 574

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Grayson Perry did the Reith Lectures last year and he thought it did. In particular, you’ll never have a good art career unless your work fits into the elevator of a New York apartment block. On the other hand, he thought that an artist’s big work is very rarely their best.

You could leave out the Art Thing and just have tea and music.

Lil Abner the brother of Big Pablo?

Thanks Erni. Now we've had that interesting diversion, can we pleaseeturn to the question "Is size important in Contemporary Art?"

From a review in today's Sunday Times of the English potter Grayson Perry's new book, Playing to the Gallery: Helping Contemporary Art in its Struggle to be Understood:

 "Perry recalls that he once asked the brilliant photographer Martin Parr how you distinguish an art photo from an ordinary one and Parr told him ypu could tell it was art if it was 'bigger than two meters and priced higher than five figures' "


Sometimes, through necessity, art can be -- indeed has to be -- small.

On one of my fireplaces I have the quotation below (I think it camme from The Times of England -- framed and placed on top of a pyramid of 6 matchboxes*:

"During the 2nd World War, Alberto Giacometti left occupied Paris and stayed in Switzeland, where his sculptures became progressively smaller and smaller -- so much so that when he returned  to France in 1945, he was able to fit all of his work from the previous 4 years into 6 matchboxes."

* 6 empty matchboxes, alas, as I could not persuade Alberto to part with his mini works.

Thanks alison anne. You may have highlighted a chicken and egg problem: do works get bigger because galleries get bigger, or do galleries get bigger because works get bigger?

Perhaps the solution to this is smaller galleries, or galleries with smaller rooms. There is a contemporary art gallery near where I live in a massive former wine cooperative building. The four  main rooms are enormous -- two of them about 40 x 15 yards, 2 about 30 x 15 yards -- but there is one very small space (with two rooms each about 3 x3 yards) in which, interestingly, the gallery owner's most prized works are displayed.

But in general smaller works in this part of the world seem to be older works, and very rarely of contemporary art.

Good question! I don't have a conclusive answer, but here is how I feel about size in my own art practice. I usually work on standard-sized postcards (~5" x 3"), which are pretty small compared to say, a Jackson Pollock canvas. I like working somewhat small because I often make art outside my studio (in my kitchen, at cafes, etc). However, I occasionally work a bit larger, just to switch things up a bit. I am not into super-small art, like ATC's (artist trading cards), because I find it hard to make an interesting composition in such a small format.

Bully for you!



Want to support the IUOMA with a financial gift via PayPal?

The money will be used to keep the IUOMA-platform alive. Current donations keep platform online till 1-may-2024. If you want to donate to get IUOMA-publications into archives and museums please mention this with your donation. It will then be used to send some hardcopy books into museums and archives. You can order books yourself too at the IUOMA-Bookshop. That will sponsor the IUOMA as well.










© 2023   Created by Ruud Janssen.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service