K á r o l y   T a r d o s
Galleries in Vienna:
Informational and Institutionalisation Trends
in 1994 and 2007
Galerie Nächst St. Stephan, Galerie Krinzinger, Galerie Insam, Galerie Knoll, Galerie Metropol and Galerie Schorm are Viennese galleries, which in the 1990s operated as international developer galleries, with an internationally integrated programmeme and developing activity, and which (except for the since closed Galerie Schorm) by the 2000s have evolved into international developer established art galleries with a considerable participation of established  international artists in their programmes besides their emerging artists and with substantial international activity. We shall interpret the developments of the Vienna art scene by taking a look at the movements shown by these Viennese galleries, as they may be considered the most developed forms of galleries in the Vienna art scene, and may best represent its changes within the international scene, even though financially they are not as powerful and do not represent so many artists of international renown as for example some New York international developer established art galleries.

As the evidence of the survey made in 1994, partially complemented in 2007, shows, there were more or less four-five generations of these galleries in Vienna in the past decades. We have more detailed information only for the above six selected galleries in 1994, so we begin by presenting this, and end by outlining the major changes since that, as can be seen in 2007 from a distance.

Informational Processes

Galerie Nächst St. Stephan represents the first generation of these galleries. It was founded in the 50s as the only contemporary art gallery in Vienna at the time, and now has long traditions, though the present gallerist has been working with the gallery only since the 70s. Galerie Krinzinger and Galerie Insam were already founded in the second generation of Viennese galleries, around the beginning of the 70s, but they are managed by the same gallerists since then. Galerie Knoll was founded in a next wave of galleries, in the mid 80s, and represents the third generation of contemporary art galleries in Vienna. Whereas Galerie Metropol. and Galerie Schorm. started dealing with contemporary art (Galerie Metropol: changed to contemporary art) at the end of the third wave of galleries, already in the yet uncertain period of the beginning of the 90s, representing the end of the third generation, as we will see, before the beginning of the fourth generation of Viennese galleries in the mid 90s, and the fifth generation in the 2000s.

Galerie Nächst St. Stephan, as well as Galerie Krinzinger and Galerie Insam had in some way a more difficult path of introducing themselves, as they not only had to grow up to the international market, but they also had to pave the way for contemporary art in the circles of the Austrian public and institutions. Galerie Knoll, Galerie Metropol and Galerie Schorm already had an easier way in this respect, but they still very much had to join (especially Galerie Knoll fell into this in time) in the broadening of Austrian participation and possibilities in the international scene, which naturally demands continuous activity ever since.

Internationalization and the intention to maintain a contemporary character had kept the programme of these galleries rather open, without definite links to styles, tendencies, always integrating the newer trends into their programmes. Differences of course were still present between generations, among these for example the stay with greater accent with the medium of painting in the case of the first generation gallery, with most openness to new mediums in the later generations.

One definitely important aspect of the internationalization of the programme of the galleries is the openness to work with international artists, and not only exhibiting but also managing them. This seemed to have been an important token of internationalization, a price paid, with generous returns with time in the international presence, acceptance and reputation of Austrian artists, gallerists. It seemed that after the more closed initial developments, starting with the basic changes with the wave of internationalization by the galleries of the first and second generations in the eighties, further developed by the third and the fourth-fifth generations, already larger accent could be placed on the management of Austrian artists, with the still equally important role of international artists.

Similar were the differences among generations in relating to the resource of integrating young artists, as a source of informational openness, into the programme of the gallery. Galerie Nächst St. Stephan of the first generation had greater accent on integrating young international - American - artists, in the medium of painting, whereas Galerie Schorm of the third generation had much greater accent on integrating young Austrian artists into the programme.

In relation to the independent scene, also an important source of openness of information and of the programme of the gallery, the galleries were perhaps more uniform in at least following their programmes - though this was not confirmed in each case for the galleries of the first two generations - , while they did not go as far as keeping closer contacts with the gallerists of the independent scene.

As far as opening the programme of the gallery to new lines through participation in different projects is concerned, this was an important characteristic of the galleries of all 1994 generations, as this has proved to be an important form of communication with the international art world. These activities involved one fourth to one third of the galleries' activity, seemingly increasing with integration, and with higher level starts in the newer generations.

Another important area of openness is the network of contacts with the national and the international scene. What was clear was that this is a most important area, involving contacts at international and national galleries, artists, museums fairs, curators, and that the extent of integration increased with the generations, with the time spent in the art scene.

Institutional Integration into the Art Market in 1994

The generations of the galleries and the phases of their institutional integration into the art market in 1994 seemed to be very much in line with the phases of their informational integration into the international art field. The borders were the same between the generations.

The share of international turnover as a percentage of total turnover - as an indicator of the degree of success of the institutional integration into the international market - seemed to have depended on two processes: the development of the galleries' international market and the development of their Austrian market. In 1994, in the case of the first generation Galerie Nächst St. Stephan, the international part of the turnover was the highest among the galleries, 65%, but this had been even higher previously, e.g. 75% not so long before, as their positions on the Austrian market had developed to a greater extent after their international integration, with the meanwhile experienced development of the Austrian market. The second generation Galerie Krinzinger and Galerie Insam also had very high international shares in their turnover - 60% and 50% -, signalling their high level international integration with time, but these shares had most probably been still higher as well and had decreased similarly with the development of the Austrian market. Galerie Knoll of the third generation probably already represented a generation, where the high international share - 50% - had to be worked for already besides higher absolute figures of domestic turnover. This was even more true for Galerie Metropol and Galerie Schorm, who started somewhat later in the third generation, where the less developed percentages - 20% and 30% - showed the great weight, the rather strict character of the time factor concerning the successes in art market institutionalization.

The percentage share of museums in the turnover of the galleries of different generations shows very much similarly the perhaps not so surprising strictness of the time factor concerning art market institutionalization. This share usually shows an augmenting tendency parallel with institutionalization and with time, then, after a shorter or longer period of saturation, in case there is no replacement of the artists with further new wave of artists of the new generations, implies cycles with decreasing museum shares. This seemed to have been revealed in the case of the Austrian galleries of the sample as well. In 1994, Galerie Nächst St. Stephan of the first generation had a 40% share of museums in its turnover, but it also had a further 15% share of turnover to different state institutions, also depending on institutionalization. Galerie Krinzinger and Galerie Insam of the second generation also had very high percentages of turnover to museums, 50% each, and were probably the galleries, which were the most at the top of their cycles. The third generation galleries were considerably less advanced in their sales to museums. Galerie Knoll had a 20% share of turnover to museums, while Galerie Metropol and Galerie Schorm around a still more moderate 10-10 % share.

The percentage share of turnover to enterprises also shows a segment of market institutionalization, of growing importance in recent times. Success in this segment depends basically positively of the results attained in the most critical field of market institutionalisation, that of the museums, as well as of the level of development of art sales on the enterprise market. In 1994 it seemed that the relatively low enterprises sales percentages of Galerie Nächst St. Stephan (15%), Galerie Krinzinger (20%) and Galerie Insam (30%) were promoted in absolute terms, but limited in relative terms, by their high turnover shares towards macro institutions. In the case of Galerie Knoll of the third generation, however, the higher (40%) share of sales going towards enterprises was a result of the fact that the gallery’s sales to museums were high enough to support enterprise sales, but still not too high to limit them in relative terms. Somewhat later in this generation, Galerie Metropol and Galerie Schorm seemed to be too less institutionalized on either the museum market, or, even less, the enterprise market, their shares of sales to these markets being 10% or even lower.

The percentage share of turnover to individual collectors seemed even more a remainder category. The percentages here, in 1994, showed 30% for Galerie Nächst St. Stephan, 30% and 20% for Galerie Krinzinger and Galerie Insam, 40% for Galerie Knoll, telling about the importance of the segment but also about the greater weight of the other segments. In the meanwhile, the very high figures for Galerie Metropol and Galerie Schorm - with up to 90% in the case of Galerie Metropol – reflect the very less institutionalized position of these galleries on other market segments. The market of individual collectors, nevertheless, is certainly an important basic market for galleries, depending on the expansion of the culture of private collection and the possibilities of increasing the financial conditions of private collection, both processes demanding a longer period of time.

From 1994 to 2007: Two New Generations and Ongoing Internationalisation

Since 1994, two new generations of Vienna galleries have developed. There was a major boom of gallery founding in the mid 90s, involving among others Galerie Charim, Galerie Martin Janda, Galerie Krobath Wimmer, Galerie Gabriele Senn and Galerie Mezzanin, bringing what we may call the fourth generation of Vienna galleries. The founding continued in the 2000s with, among others, Galerie Andreas Huber, Layr: Wuestenhagen Contemporary and Mario Mauroner Contemporary Art Vienna, which may probably be referred to as already the fifth generation of galleries in the Austrian capital.

From the point of view of these galleries, the first three generations of Viennese galleries may be called old generations, with the galleries of the 90s being referred to as middle generation galleries, and those of the 2000s as new galleries. Part of the galleries in the two latter generations are grouped in two new gallery streets, Eschenbachgasse and Schleifmühlgasse.

Internationalisation is ongoing in the Viennese art scene. Until the middle of the nineties, when most of the information presented in this study was collected, the Vienna scene had not developed the types of highly institutionalised contemporary and classical modern galleries (‘developer-established-art galleries’, ‘buyer-into-established-art galleries’), which had evolved in some of the more Occidental centres of the international art world, most of all in New York. (Frank and Schulte in Berlin, Leo Castelli, Larry Gagosian and Pace Wildenstern in New York). However, since then, a considerable number of the best galleries of what we have called the old generations, the first three generations, of Vienna galleries have evolved into real international developer established art galleries, even if with somewhat less pronounced accents.

The top Vienna galleries participate in a great number of international fairs (around 10 fairs or so yearly), selling sometimes over 80% internationally (like Galerie Krinzinger). They sometimes have 80-90% of their programme consisting of international artists (like Galerie Knoll), including very well established international artists as well. Time has also been an important component in these developments of institutionalisation, but very much depended on the qualities of the gallerists.