Recession Deaccession

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Lily McElroy


Perhaps taking a cue from Saatchi Online, Thomas Robertello Gallery is having an online exhibition it calls RECESSION DEACCESSION! (Caps and exclamation point theirs).

Each day this August, the gallery features an image of a work for purchase. Each piece is at or below the low, low price of $2,000. (Who says affordability isn’t relative?)

The gallery’s web site text says something along these lines: Why pay rent or buy health insurance in these trying times when you can buy art? It continues on a tangent that certainly holds truth but is a… um… unique case for a gallery to make:

“People who MAKE art often lead tragic short lives with weird endings. Their careers are often catapulted into super-stardom AFTER they leave this world. Then some blue-chip secondary market parasite descends upon the devastated family, raising prices to new and unrealistic levels.”

So, by buying this art instead of paying rent, you’re taking a chance at profiting from the short and unlucky life of an artist. Sweet!


Robertello said he just wanted a new approach. “I decided that I didn’t have any need to keep quiet about the fact that the recession is taking its toll on my business. While other galleries have closed, and some are thinking about it, or downsizing, I wanted to continue promoting the work I exhibit and make sure that each artist on my roster has work available for purchase in the $2,000 and under price range.”


Robertello said he has made sales of the featured artists’ works since RECESSION DEACCESSION! began, but none of the sales have been of the works posted online. In any case, he said his unusual approach is drawing lots of feedback.

“People seem to admire the gutsy approach and the humor with which it was conveyed. I really just want to do well by my artists.”

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