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Gossage in the zone

2 March, 2010

I saw John Gossage in Switzerland. Everyone tells me he is on fire right now as a photographer, though I haven’t seen his newest work. He promised to send me some things. He just finished a project for the Rochester Art Center in Rochester Minnesota, the town that hosts the original Mayo Clinic. They came up with a brilliant idea for an exhibition catalogue. Instead of printing a standard book-format publication, they printed all 200+ images in a special 80 page supplement of the Post-Bulletin, the local newspaper. So, for fifty cents, anyone in the community, or farther afield for that matter, could buy a copy. They’re sold out now, but John promised to find me one.

John has been working with Alec Soth lately. I told John that a few years ago I tried to buy a photograph from Alec for the Saint Louis Art Museum that was sold out– every print in the edition was gone – but Alec refused. I admire his integrity, but in the end it was disappointing because I wasn’t able to buy anything at all.

The question of an edition is a little tricky when it comes to museums. Many artists are willing to sell ‘artist’s proofs’ or ‘exhibition proofs’ to museums which are basically outside the edition, knowing that they are never likely to enter the marketplace again so they won’t hurt the artist’s prices. Several artists have done this for me over the years, but others feel they really have to stick to the number of prints they declared to their dealers. Their dealers often have strong feelings about this too – some, desperate to place work in good museums, are eager to bend the rules. Others, committed to preserving the edition, won’t budge.

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