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Book Review - How to Approach a Gallery by Jenny Judova

  • In a brutal sum up the book says that your art is TOTALLY AND UTTERLY IRRELEVANT to getting into a gallery, or having any success. Frankly if you haven't realised that by now you’re missing something, but still having it spelt out in black and white by this book is well, depressing.


    Fair play the book is bang on about how to approach a gallery, you probably won’t get any better advice. But by the time you’ve read it you’ll possibly wonder if you actually want to make any art, or even be any part of this art world.


    Basically if you want to succeed, hang around the art world, make lots of different friends in case they do well and can help you, and spend 80% of your time promoting yourself and 20% working. So yes, that’s why those people you knew at art school who were never there are doing better than you, because they concentrated on schmoozing rich and relevant people instead of learning how to make art.


    It’s just getting more depressing isn’t it, and it does beg the question if any of the art we see in galleries is any good if it’s just any old stuff flung together by people who are good at marketing themselves? 


    The other thing the book makes the art world feel is boring. Really, really, really boring. Full of people worried that if they put a step out of line they’ll be hounded for it. Don’t cold email a gallery, definitely don’t cold call a gallery and whatever you do don’t send weird stuff to try and interest Jay Jopling - if you do you’ll be marked down forever. Talk about stifling creativity. I remember the same thing at art school. People just too terrified to experiment with their art.


    Check out this advice on how to behave at a private view, which sounds a bit like it's come from a law firm manual: “So if it’s an artist run project space - being tipsy is fine; if it’s a mid-career or a blue chip gallery, hold a drink, but do not drink from it. You need your sobriety.” It sounds as if bank clerks have a more bohemian lifestyle and a far cry from the stories of Damien Hirst hurling a melon from a New York roof as recounted in Alex James’ book Bit of a Blur.


    It may be a bit miserable but I would get the book, especially if you’re an art student or want to achieve something in the art world. It’s full of useful and sensible information about what different types of galleries there are and how to make a good art website etc.


    I just can’t help feeling that even as she writes it Jenny Judova is a little fed up with the art world, a little art world weary.


    There’s a great story about Keith Richards. How he would stay up late recording in the studio, and every night be would stay up later and later and later. Eventually he found himself sipping a drink in the car on the way to the studio at 8am in the morning. Realising that he was essentially setting off for work like a normal person he was horrified. “Take me back he shouted,” and went home.


    The art world feels like Keith Richards in the car on that morning, but with no horror at being normal and no intention of going back to being something crazy.


    You can get the book at


    Review by Robert Dunt, Founder and CEO of -