Industry voices: Marie Odile Falais
Hi Marie! I’m happy to have you here. Could you please introduce yourself a bit to our readers?
Of course, thank you very much for this opportunity! I am an art historian, I graduated from La Sorbonne in Paris. My first internship took place in an auction house, later on, I worked with an art advisory company. Following that, I got a job, first as a gallery assistant, where I came in intending to develop their social media communication and then I became gallery manager. A few months ago I decided to start a freelance activity as a social media strategist and a content creator, as my activity on Instagram became more and more noticed.
Your social media activity mainly includes artistic news, breaking stereotypes in art, and relating to current exhibitions. How did you come up with the idea of creating such a platform? What does such activity entail for you as an experienced person in the field of art?
I got lucky to end up unexpectedly in a class called « the Art World in the Digital Era » at university. It sparked my curiosity because it was at the same time I discovered Instagram. A few years later, I wasn’t really into the influence side of Instagram, but I was eager to share my art experiences. It started in October 2017, if I remember correctly, when I decided to go to London by myself for only two days, booking night bus tickets, to see the exhibition Soul of a Nation at the Tate Modern. I shared pictures of the exhibitions I went to see on my Instagram. A month later I did the same thing for the first time I went to the Venice Biennale. I continued posting pictures of exhibitions. I saw an opportunity to develop a network with art lovers and to develop an almost free communication strategy for the gallery I was working for.
With the popularisation of social media, the art market has opened up to the power of different platforms such as Instagram, Facebook. Galleries have invested in the promotion of their works and aim to attract the public. Online exhibitions, online auctions, and many other activities have also emerged in that manner. Do you think that collaborations between galleries and art institutions are now a crucial factor in maintaining a position in the market and not disappearing into the crowd? Or whether it is better to rely on the individual gallery and build up one’s value without unnecessary cooperation
I would say it is a good start, but not enough. Depending on where you live, however, the art world is constantly led by individuals, to some extent, who do not fully understand the changes in technology and new opportunities brought by social media. Therefore, many art world actors are now catching up, compared to other sectors that included social media in their communication strategies. I remember loads of young entrepreneurs coming to the galleries a few years ago with the theme of digitalization as an exhibition concept, online viewing rooms, etc. They faced gallery bosses being all such as « we don’t need this, it’s not useful, it doesn’t bring clients » Well, look at the situation now… Maybe it is more enhanced in France for the Arts & Culture are extremely intellectualized and kind of holy may I say.
Galleries associated with institutions have nothing to lose, to be honest. I think an all generation of art collectors and art lovers, with all the art world codes of secrecy, discretion, and an atmosphere of intellectual elitism has declined and will soon be just a segment of a very diversified art market.
In today’s art market, we can see more and more works related to the theme of digitalization, people’s loss in over-information and production. Do you think such works will find their way to the audience and have a positive impact on demand? Are collectors and audiences opening up to new genres, or are they sticking to the familiar types from the past decades?
I think those themes have been here for quite a while now. They already have an audience, lovers, and collectors. It is now spreading to a larger audience and becoming mainstream because it is not just limited to a small group of connoisseurs anymore.
The press titled very high numbers with new names of artists the mainstream audience never heard before. It attracted partly people seeing art as an investment and people really into new technologies. However, there are also people more attached to traditional forms of art and ways of presenting art, for it is part of history. Whether people like it or not, it is here to stay. Just like photography became an art, however, first, it was a scientific discovery.
We can also notice that the art market is very diverse at the moment. We are flooded with different types of art, themes, and techniques. Do you think that it is still possible to say that some genres dominate and it is worth investing in them or has the diversity reached the point where we can only talk about different tastes?
Indeed, I think that some genres still dominate for what they represent. What is unique is still considered above what is multiple. I think, in a lot of minds, theoretically and historically, painting and sculpture are more prestigious than drawings and sketches. Bronze and marble are nobler than resin and clay. And maybe it is possible to prove it through the analysis of auction results by bringing out the occurrences of the highest bids according to different mediums. However, if someone says that a drawing by Michelangelo has less value than a painting by Picasso, I’m sure that many people would raise their eyebrows because it is not something we can compare. In my perspective, there are just as many art collectors and amateurs’ tastes as different types of art.
From your experience, do you think that going to exhibitions still means, in a sense, entering the artist’s zone, getting to know the artist’s feelings and experiences expressed in his/her works? Or that more and more often we are confronted with exhibitions and artworks that follow the current trends that find an audience only to find it, at the same time losing yourself as an artist?
It depends on where the exhibition is taking place, whether space has a truthful curation program. Exhibitions in institutions are usually planned two years before if a committee constituted of art patrons, philanthropists and collectors have its program or not, for example. Regarding social media, I think it’s where the danger of losing yourself as an artist can be the most significant. One can be tempted to create based on the popularity of people and content, thus building content that seems to please your audience.
One last question, do you think there will be a profession like art critic in the future, if so, in what form? With the increasing number of profiles, activities like yours, art criticism seems to be very dependent on the individual. Every influential person, to some extent, takes the form of such a critic. Therefore is it not a profession that is disappearing more and more?
That is a difficult question. I feel like art criticism as it was known, is now outdated. I don’t think that any harsh comment on an exhibition will make me question my desire to see it. It’s like art criticism is writing for your peers, maybe it is now fairer to talk about art reviews, and if no one is talking about your event, then you have your bad and harsh critic?
Industry voices is an editorial series by Artsted that is offering a dive into the stories of art market insiders. Picking up the mind of curators, gallerists, dealers, advisors and art entrepreneurs we are looking to provide a holistic overview of ongoing and future trends in the contemporary art world.