Art for a peaceful and flourishing world

Why I Turned Down A Louvre Exhibition

Show opening in Paris, January 2015 - Photo by Pacaline Marre

Show opening in Paris, January 2015 – Photo by Pascaline Marre

Sometimes seemingly good opportunities can be guaranteed disappointment in disguise.

I first heard about this Louvre exhibition because a local artist was invited by an agent to Paris with her art. She is a very talented artist that paints in the style of the old masters and I thought that her art was a great fit for the Louvre. I never thought for a second that my art could be considered for this show.

A few years later, I was with a rep from an upscale framing store of Toronto trying to find  mouldings that I would take to Paris for my upcoming solo exhibition.

She tells me that she exhibited at the Louvre (with the artist that I know) and that I could probably get in the show and that she was going to connect me with the agent. Indeed the exhibition (Salon des Beaux-Arts from the SNBA association) showcased all kind of contemporary art from all over the world. This agent from France was responsible for constituting  a delegation for Canadian art. The rep from the framing shop had also told me that it was 500€ to  enter the show. This is quite a high fee but it is still reasonable and acceptable especially since it is for adding the Louvre to my résumé!

When my application was accepted, I was told by the agent that the entry fee is 950€. Now, this got me thinking that I need to do further research as it is starting to be a large investment.

Before I do any show I always do research to find out about the attendance numbers, what kind of people show up, the standing of the opening celebration, if participating artists go back, what style of art they showcase, which artists get in, how do the artists attending lead their career, what kind of shows these artists usually attend… This is even more important to do if the show is international as it will incur many extra expenses.

I contacted the show directly to inquire about the entry fees and other conditions… to find out that the entry fee was indeed 500€. So was pretty disappointed to realize that going through an agent almost doubles my fee. The disappointment continued as the agent sent me an aggressive email telling me I was dishonest to contact the SNBA “behind her back” and she is consequently cancelling my acceptance into the show. I continued my research anyway by calling 2 previous participating artists, both of them told me their personal stories and basically did not recommend that I do the exhibition or deal with this agent. Now I was feeling better as I’ve realized this was not “the prestigious Louvre show I thought it would be” before I invested more time and money into it. A few more emails with the  agent confirmed that she is not the kind of person I would appreciate working with. Again I am just glad I didn’t buy in any further.

Although it happens at the Louvre, this show seems to be mostly what is called a “vanity gallery – pay to play” type of show, with little jury. Click here for a great article on the subject.

Legitimate international shows often have low entry fees (or none at all) and may even have a budget to mail the artwork back. Our artwork is chosen because it fits the specific theme of their show. It should be a win-win for both parties, it is an honor for us to be invited and it is just as much a honor for the show to have our art on their wall. The Louvre show didn’t hold many of these aspects and we ultimately gain nothing from adding vanity galleries to our résumé. Like this one, any professional in the art world know about these type of exhibitions and even the Louvre name will not be impressive. Even if it will impress some people, would we really feel good that it we had to pay so much money to add this on our résumé? I certainly wouldn’t! So here is my story, you can now understand why I wouldn’t go and exhibit at the Louvre!

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