Picasso at Gagosian: Amazing Art, Rude Employees

Posted by The G on April 30, 2011 under The G Spot | 13 Comments to Read

Photo by G.

Paintings in Prison: Picasso at the Gagosian

When I was younger, I used to feel so intimidated going into art galleries.  So many times, I’d walk inside and immediately feel the attitude of the people working there.  I felt that I didn’t belong and I hardly could enjoy the art because of it.  Then I started covering the art scene and though I still often feel the negative energy shooting towards me by galleries as I enter, I view everything with an entirely different perspective:  if you treat me disrespectfully, your gallery loses out on free publicity.  I tend to avoid public trash talking because it takes a lot of time and work to write these stories and I feel it’s a waste of energy.  However, I absolutely refuse to be treated horribly and keep quiet about it.

There’s a wonderful Picasso exhibit currently showing at the Gagosian Gallery in New York (located at 522 West 21st Street).  Some of the paintings have never been publicly displayed in the United States before and over 80 works are featured in the exhibit.  I had been warned by a friend that the art is fantastic and the experience was terrible.  Unfortunately, I can confirm that feeling as well.  It makes perfect sense to have heightened security since these works of art are priceless; however, I truly would rather have just viewed the images on line instead of spending my time going to an exhibit where I felt so unwelcome.

When I went to the gallery, I was ignored as I walked through the front door by “busy” employees who are most likely wasting the company’s money playing around on the Internet instead of greeting customers.  Giving the gallery the benefit of the doubt, I understand that not all customers understand gallery etiquette, but rather than subject your clientele to such a negative experience, I don’t understand why they don’t explain their behavioral expectations when you walk through the door.  I wish that instead of getting the silent treatment, I would have been given the following instructions:  do not get too close to the paintings, do not breathe in any way we deem unfit, don’t you dare reach for your camera and don’t even look at the paintings because our security guards will be all over you like white on rice.  Several times on my visit, a security guard put his arm out to block a painting, I was asked many times “what are you doing here?” and when a security guard who was busy texting as I entered the room looked up and saw me, I was asked very rudely “where did you come from?”  Yes, I threw attitude right back!!  I told him he should do his job and waste time on his break, not take it out on me for existing!  How dare a person talk to me that way, when he was clearly in the wrong?!  There are many things you can say about me but here are two things you cannot say:  that I am a push over and that I have a boring life.

By that point I’d had enough of the attitude and I left the gallery.  I was extremely disappointed because Picasso is one of my favorites and as you can see from all the events I cover on this site, I am not a person who can afford to waste time.  Again, I had to make a decision on covering this exhibit and I decided that it is simply unacceptable to treat customers this way and I immediately sent Gagosian a note on Twitter in all capital letters explaining my dissatisfaction at how I was treated.  As they are one of the most famous galleries in the world, I hardly expect a reply or better yet a heartfelt apology.  However, I have been given a voice and I plan to use it to speak up for situations like this.  I recommend you do the same! I will not be treated like garbage and keep quiet about it whether I am in an art gallery or in any other public situation.  The world is finally starting to realize that 99% of the world is being controlled by 1% and the only way to change that is to speak up and let it be known that we will no longer stay silent and be treated this way.

I can only imagine that Pablo Picasso would be horribly disappointed that his art has to be viewed under such terrible circumstances.  I think seeing his work in a museum setting is much more appropriate because obviously a gallery (even a world famous one) is clearly not equipped to handle such important work.

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  • Andrew said,

    I had the same experience! Thanks for speaking up!!!!

  • Art Lover said,

    Inexcusable.

  • HD said,

    Bravo for airing the negative attitide shown by the
    “pseudo-intellectual” that operate the well known
    gallery.

  • jw tarin said,

    Good for you, G! This is what I detest about the art world. Even with locally known artists, rather than Picasso, etc. – people get so caught up in being ‘important’ when only the beauty of the art is what is important.

  • enso11 said,

    You clearly have a chip on your shoulder. Think about everything you complained about from the staff’s perspective. They see over 2000 visitors a day all of which have the same questions. They are doing 10 things at once and cannot greet “customers.” I thought that customer implied a business transaction. . . The show is free. Go, enjoy, leave.

  • Kate said,

    I had a great experience with the staff at the gallery. They even gave me directions to an address I requested and gave me a ton of additional information about the art.

    Very friendly. Maybe all of you did something to upset them…

  • David said,

    Agree with Kate.

    Staff was super nice.

  • In defense said,

    http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2011/03/ask_an_art_critic_jerry_saltz_10.html

  • neon said,

    This is a hugely popular show and you need to give the staff a break. They deal with a lot of attitude back every day and you cannot assume they are trolling the internet just b/c they didnt have a moment to make eye contact with you.

    I hope you enjoyed the show however…and as most people know (as is the case in museums also) insurance policies stipulate that paintings have a guard and that ppl cannot get too close, lights cant be too bright ..etc. It is incredible that so many works of that caliber were brought together in one space.

    I personally like to visit such shows on ‘off’ days during the week when not too crowded so I can actually see the works. I’ll be back again. Usually if you greet the staff with a ‘hello’ they will be glad to say ‘hello’ back.

  • The G said,

    @ Neon and Kate.

    Thanks for your comments and I am glad you’ve had a better experience than I did.

    I know this post made it’s way across the web, so perhaps the gallery have corrected their nasty ways since then. I sure hope so.

  • The G said,

    @ neon. I completely understand what you are saying about the lights and the security. Aside from walking into a gallery, I did nothing to receive the rudeness I experienced. I written about 3000 event in 2 years so it’s safe to say that I am an expert in handling myself properly in social situations.

  • scott said,

    re-read Jerry’s post.

  • Pissed off Picasso said,

    Damn G.

    You called these people out! Kudos for speaking up!

    Nobody is forcing these gallery people to be so grumpy. If they don’t want to serve customers, they should get a different job.

    Good work, bro!