Above: Annabelle Selldorf's 20th St. Gallery for David Zwirner. Credit: Selldorf Associates.


In the UK, young artists who have graduated since 2000--that is, since Blair's Let's-get-everyone-we-possibly-can-through-uni. HE policy became effective; the policy has not been reversed, only tweaked, by his successors--have begun their practicing years thrust into a scene defined by overcapacity and hyper-abundance. A scene thronging with a glut of literally hundreds-of-thousands of reasonably articulate hopeful artists.

There are 125 unis. in the UK of which, let's say, 100 offer degrees in subjects like Fine-Art, Video Art, or Photography. There are other subjects one can follow with a view to becoming a contemporary artist; some Fine-Art degrees have 100 graduating per year on that one course alone.

So, a rough calculation, will give the total number of those in the pool of graduates who might have gone on to have a successful career as an artist from the UK (excluding autodidacts). 100 (unis) x 100 (fine-arts subjects graduates per year) x 18 (years). It's: 180,000 hopefuls.

Now, as you may know, dear reader, the global contemporary art-market is controlled by about 50 private art galleries. (At most, and that number is on a trend of decreasing.) New York is a city in decline that is sure. But, nevertheless, for any significant artist (i.e., one who has any sort of market at all) a dealer in New York is inevitable, and a benchmark of success beyond one's own shores in this instance. (Pick a different benchmark if you like but I am fine with this one.) So, of these 180,000 upstarts, how many currently have their work with a respected NY dealer? The answer is: less than ten persons ... or about 1 in 20,000 of the total UK fine-arts graduates since 2000. For each one of the UK fine-arts graduates that becomes a success as an artist, there are 19,999 that don't.

(26 October 2018)