Over at ArtFacts headquarters it seems we’ve skipped over the season of pumpkin patches and sweaters and jumped right into doldrums of winter. It feels like it was just yesterday we were sipping Prosecco at Berlin Art Week, wearing linen and riding bikes. We hope you enjoyed the lovely weather and the abundance of summer art fairs as much as we did. And with that being said, we thought we’d introduce a more morbid subject to match the changing mood: an artist’s death and the effect on their career.
We discovered some incredible emerging artists this season, which led us to reflect on those who have left the stage since ArtFacts’ conception. Logic would suggest a decrease in sales and shows after a person has crossed the rainbow road. But of course there have been some outliers: think Andy Warhol or Picasso, to name two giants.
What about those who fit somewhere in the middle of the popularity spectrum? Who fades into obscurity after a fruitful run?
Larry Gianettino, *Scared Rabbit” 1994
Larry G & The One-Name Wonder
Take photographer Larry Gianettino, for example. His macro portraits of miniature figures helped him gain popularity in the 90s and, at the time of his death in 2002, he held a ranking of around 8000. Taking into account the years in which he produced work, as well as the limited amount he made, that rank is considered quite high.
Yet in the 14 years after his death, his ranking dropped below 100,000, with his last show taking place in 2006. To put it into perspective: in 2002, his rank was higher than artist Chloe Wise’s today, and she has 38.9k followers on Instagram alone. For his rank to take such a nosedive in such a short period of time is significant, but unfortunately, not uncommon. And so we remember Larry through his quirky work, unlikely to get a retrospective any time soon.
Arman, also known as Armand Ferndandez, was a French-born American sculptor and painter. He was best known for accumulating mass amounts of objects then rearranging and de-constructing them in his work. Like the contemporaries he took inspiration from, he dropped everything but “Arman” from his name in 1957, perhaps in an attempt to make a bigger splash on the scene. And indeed, his career took off internationally, as he held 3 solo shows at the highly influential Galerie Iris Clert in Paris in addition to other successful shows in the following years. Arman passed away in 2005, the dent in his chart corroborating that. In the years immediately following, his career line wavered before suddenly skyrocketing in 2011. The reason for that is more complicated than meets the eye.
His artist’s resume shows he has had less solo shows in the 11 years after his death, but the importance of the galleries showing him are higher than the ones before. This, along with the fact that he’s kept up a steady stream of group shows– an average of 10 per year, in fact –means that his career is at an all-time high. His rank currently hovers nearly 120 points above that when he died. It doesn’t appear to be stopping any time soon.
Arman, “Achilles Syndrome“, 1976
We hope all this talk about death hasn’t spooked you too much, but we also hope it will make you think about how your favorite artist is remembered when the pass on to the afterlife.