EK Interview: Dennis Ammann

Dennis, the owner of 5 Pieces Gallery, an online art gallery with a global outlook and focus on the promotion of young artists and contemporary art, has shared with EK highly extensive responses to our proposed questions. The guy knows his stuff, has a mind of his own, and shows the significance in doing what you love. Get yourself comfortable and check out this good read. We’re glad to have 5 Pieces as a comrade.

art blog - dennis ammann - empty kingdom
Bobby Neel Adams- Christian (Age-Map Series)

How do the overall expectations of the gallery compare to the standards and personal appeal of the curators when searching for artists to feature?

We are a handful of people searching for new artists and we are all looking for the same thing, artists who are unique in their approach. I believe that if young artists are consistent with their work and ideas, and if greatness, passion, and endurance are there, then the work will take its proper place no matter what type of art it is. Important artworks are most often an individual’s uncompromising vision. They’re often found to be different and radical or are misunderstood at the time, only to be recognized later as having something valuable to offer. So overall we are looking for artists who have a solid vision and original style. You’ll find emerging and established names on our roster, but all of our artists have a thread and synergy that run through their work. It’s the energy and life in the work we look for.

art blog - dennis ammann - empty kingdom
Anthony Garratt- London, Late Afternoon

Could you please explain the process that follows once someone has decided to purchase a piece of work?

Most of the artwork can be purchased directly through our website, www.5piecesgallery.com, safely and securely with PayPal or credit card. By showing nearly all the prices on the website, we approach the process of purchasing art in a way that makes it as easy and transparent as possible for everyone. Our goal is to offer fair prices while still respecting the value of the quality in the artwork. In doing so, we connect and empower collectors and artists alike. We can offer these outstanding prices on high quality art because we make great efforts to reduce our fixed costs.

Once we have received an order, the artwork gets packed by our sales team or the artist directly and then is sent to the client usually within three days along with a certificate of authenticity. We are very experienced in packing art with the utmost care and providing numerous, credible professional services which are available to the client, as customer care is a crucial factor to our business. Our customer care team is here to answer any questions a client might have.

art blog - dennis ammann - empty kingdom
Jaime Ibarra- Fumando

What are the features that distinguish you from other websites who do something similar?

First of all, we are very global in our outlook. It is important to us to support young contemporary artists from all angles of the world to show different perspectives on life and society, and providing diversity in content, comment, and style. The gallery has a strong desire to challenge the viewers, social norms, and its own values and beliefs. So, it is not only about technique, beauty, or understanding of light and figure. It is more about how well the art mirrors the society of its day. Artists from a variety of countries and culture join our group and give life a greater meaning in this context, and together create a visual opera of our time: pure passion, edge, and undeniable beauty. This all comes together on our site, yet we still distinguish the creative process of each artist, so I think it is a really enriching experience to visit our website and group shows.

Further, most of our artists are professionally trained and have a MFA at a prestigious university or art school. Some of them have been exhibited in the MoMA, PS1, ICP, MOCA, and some of the most important museums in Europe even though they are still very young. The interplay of museum-quality artists and their high-quality originals and editions is another factor that distinguishes us from other online galleries. All of the originals, editions, and photographs in our curated collection are carefully produced; a certificate, which is artist-signed and numbered, accompanies every piece of work to ensure that the one you own is part of an exclusive edition created with the artist.

art blog - dennis ammann - empty kingdom
Casey McKee- Study #5209

Also, our relationship with the artists is very unique. Being an artist is a very hard job- there is no security at all in an artist’s life, especially in that of a young one. This is why we are trying to promote our artists to the best of our capability. We want to see artists grow, give them faith, and provide them with an opportunity to expand. We feel strongly about giving back as much as possible and lending support to younger artists. For this reason, we send our artists much more than the usual 50-50 split in the case of a sale. It means a lot to our audience that the artists benefit directly from any purchase and that they can support the artist directly. This also gives clients the opportunity to become patrons and with all our channels, such as a special Twitter list and YouTube channel, the clients can take a look into the vibrant lives of our artists at any time. Due to these features, our artists are so accessible that you can become a part of their lives and feel that you play a role in their success.

art blog - dennis ammann - empty kingdom
Arnis Balcus- Untitled #8 (Amnesia Series)

What are some specific examples when reaching out through the Internet has benefited the gallery? Proposed challenges?

The Internet has definitely given emerging artists a shot at building an audience and consumers a chance to buy quality art at a reasonable price. Name Banksy, an artist who spotted the Democratic and commercial potential of the Internet, has priced his canvases for $600 online, but ended up selling them for $1,870,000 USD at auctions. So, the Internet has been a facilitator in creating an art scene that acts and appeals globally. It has opened doors for thousands of potential art enthusiasts. People who previously have never felt comfortable walking into an art gallery and asking about art, now have no problem doing so because they can do it online. The Internet definitely creates a new kind of art collector. It all feels less elitist now and people are buying what they like, not what they are told to like. I think the Internet has been an amazing tool and catalyst in the development and communication of contemporary art. The speed of creative exchange and conversation is very radical, and because I think art should be about debate and discussion, I find this to be a very good thing.

As a gallery, it is becoming increasingly necessary to be well accessible online since the Internet breaks down borders, allowing easy communication with people all around the world. Some days we have more than 3000 visitors, which is much more than we could expect in a static space. The Internet gives us access to a wider group of artists and clients, and has become the main source of influence for most artists and galleries I know of. The Internet has definitely made access to contemporary art more democratic and with our affordable prices we hope to make the diffusion of contemporary art more democratic. We are developing a kind of universal culture of art, which of course is a fantastic way to unite and promote the best in human nature, but I’m curious to see how the Internet will ultimately affect individuality and the development of art in general.

art blog - dennis ammann - empty kingdom
Mariel Clayton- I Wonder If I Can Claim That As A Deduction

In a world in which the people either do not have the money to go to commercial galleries in New York or London, and or the time to search for artists to collect, it is our aim to take the guesswork our of collecting, and offering an easy access to the backrooms of the galleries of this world. It would have not been possible to establish our gallery so quickly as an international meeting place for artists and collectors, and to have happy clients in more than fifty countries around the world without the Internet for sure.

Due to the Internet, the contemporary art scene is on steroids. Everything is happening faster, especially when it comes to prices. The price of artists’ works is rising at an unprecedented rate. With the increase in price points and demand for the work of young artists, this evolution is putting young art in front of more established art collectors. On the other hand, the art we are showing has enormous crossover potential with young collectors. I feel that many of today’s collectors of contemporary art are looking for artists and works that speak to their generation, and the affordable prices allow us to cultivate a younger collector base as well. It is the first time in history where a mass audience can engage in collecting. An important aspect about the Internet is that it also promotes transparency in pricing, which is necessary with the market being as global as it is. It makes collectors feel safer when acquiring pieces nowadays. Through the Internet there are so many artists we all look at, but just a few who earn big money. With some of these artists though, the high prices are not accurately representative of their work. It is really up to the next generation to decide what is still relevant in the future. The most important aspect to me in all of this is that art can now be tangible and not elitist. This speaks to me because I try not to get caught up with status, rank, and categorization.

art blog - dennis ammann - empty kingdom
Winston Chmielinski- Recess

However, the major challenge of selling art through the Internet is definitely winning the trust of the collectors as this is still a new way to collect and an order can be fulfilled without any personal contact to the gallerist. However, we are always here to answer personal inquiries or questions the clients might have. There is a negative aspect for the artists as well, in that there is a danger of people acting together as a group with artists falling in and out of fashion. If this fashion element includes the buying and selling of works, then speculative bubbles happen, which can be extremely damaging to artists’ careers.

What makes your gallery a “trusted source of information?”

At 5 Pieces Gallery, our mission is to help any client to discover, learn about, and collect the most exciting works of art available. It is important to us to show the client from the beginning how honestly we work and how much we have to offer. Thus, we are supportive rather than prescriptive in our approach. Because most of our clients do not have time to waste, it is important that we can provide them with all the information they need as quickly and professionally as possible.

To meet our purpose of showcasing the very best artistic talent the world has to offer, we work with art curators and experts around the world who have a lifetime of experience. Together with our team of curators and art experts, we put a lot of effort and time into the search for new talent and hand select every artwork with the utmost care to ensure that you are finding the best contemporary art available at affordable prices.

art blog - dennis ammann - empty kingdom
Kate Garner- Kate Moss

What are some art trends your gallery looks for?

First and foremost, the artist and the work itself must appeal to us personally. It is a dangerous philosophy to follow trends, or worse, a mathematical calculation in the hopes of making money. You will never be the first if you follow trends. Whether we like it or not, art is emotional as it evokes an emotional reaction. After the initial spark, the originality of the work is essential.

I think good art stands out on its own merits and we still like to believe that this reigns supreme. We ignore and avoid the hype. We judge the work with our eyes and hearts and not our ears. Popularity should not be confused with importance. So, at the end of the day, we do not care about the market. We would offer the same pieces whether they sold or not. Fortunately, though, there are a lot of people out there who like the same stuff we like, so we do well. It is great to go with your gut instinct and go with something because you love it. It has not done me any harm until now.

art blog - dennis ammann - empty kingdom
Casey McKee- Study #7709

What are some changes you have seen in the art movement over the years?

The fundamental reasons that art is made, looked at, and thought about have never changed. Artists, all the while, have continued to make extraordinary things with limited means, producing problems and provocations, new sensations, vulnerabilities, and intensities of feeling. But the structures that surround this process have ballooned. Art has moved from margin to center with all the losses and gains that this entails.

Over the last thirty years, contemporary art has witnessed a few significant changes besides the numerous trends and fads that provide the art world with much-coveted entertainment. Photography gained prominence. Video art failed to fulfill its early promise. The commercialization of art and the increased emphasis on art as an investment has adversely affected all of the structures that surround contemporary art, including the acquisition and exhibition of art by museums, the writing about art, and in some instances the creation of art itself. Museums and galleries started to be run as businesses and they were increasingly driven into the non-independence of private-public partnerships, framed by an atmospheric event culture with more than fifty biennials and triennials worldwide. With the proliferation of museums, biennales and fairs, and the sheer amount of work now being made, shown, and sold, the art world has obviously changed substantially over the last thirty years. The field of art, and now only nominally public and non-profit institutions, has been transformed into a highly competitive and professional global market.

art blog - dennis ammann - empty kingdom
Florian Pelka- Am Pool

Along with this development, the specific artistic values and criteria that marked the relative autonomy of the artistic field have been overtaken by quantitative criteria in museums, galleries, and art discourse, where programs are increasingly determined by sales. The artist-as-genius model has expired; the pop star is the new paradigm. Now, it’s all about context, social praxis, and the right strategy within the operating system of art. Let’s say we are living through a historical tragedy: the extinguishing of the field of art as a site of resistance to the logic, values, and power of the market.

But there are also other changes. The most visible in the last decades has been that the art world is opening up to new geographic, social, and cultural territories. Today many artists come from the middle and even lower class. And there has been an erosion of geography for the benefit of infography: the Internet and the facilitation of travel allowed the formation of new communities bound by interests and causes rather than by location. When it comes to content, the entry of structuralism, psychoanalysis, and anthropology into theories of art have rocked the boat of aesthetics and evolved into an insistence on subjectivity and participation as integral to meaning.

Overall since the 1980s, when affluent capitalism hit big, the small world of wealthy art collectors exploded as a wider privileged society had the means and need of consuming as never before, and as a result, cultured turned into an available product.

Are there any ideas or projects the gallery is currently experimenting with?

Yes, indeed. We are building up a network to do group shows around the world, namely in London, New York, Sao Paolo, Berne, and in the Caribbean. At these unique shows, some of the most innovative artists will be invited to show five pieces of art and make the visit for the client an experience he won’t forget. Our artists and clients come from a variety of countries, but we are also traveling to different countries so that we might become the most international art gallery around.

art blog - dennis ammann - empty kingdom
Guido Argentini- Receiving Guidance From Nature

What are your prospects for the gallery in the long run?

We want to open up the world of art and provide democratic access. We aim to enable art lovers and collectors to start building high-quality collection, irrespective of funds at their disposal. Finally, we want to be the number one address when it comes to young contemporary art on the Internet, so we will keep looking out for new emerging talents to keep the roster fresh, exciting, and up-to-date.

art blog - dennis ammann - empty kingdom
Jesse Reno- The Wolf Remained

What advice or tips do you have on buying art from a gallery? What should someone think about, look for, and avoid?

First, our clients range from some of the strongest collectors in the world who are building very powerful collections for museums and foundations, to some of the poorest. Thus, each of them might have different incentives.

From my point of view, collecting is a very personal experience for everyone- what is most important is that you find artists whose work speaks to you in a unique way. I like helping people to build up strong, personal, cohesive collections they and their families enjoy every day. Although we only represent the work of artists who have the potential to become household names and are worth every dollar you spend, and even though the value for the artworks of most 5 Pieces Gallery artists generally do increase as their careers advance as there is more demand for their work, we hope our collectors purchase art at 5 Pieces Gallery as a personal investment- because it moves them on an aesthetic, emotional, and intellectual level. Although many of our collectors enjoy purchasing art as an investment, we advocated buying art primarily for the enjoyment you get from the work. After that, the investment potential becomes incidental and merely a potential bonus to your overall enjoyment of the work.

art blog - dennis ammann - empty kingdom
Andrew Salgado- Now, Boys, We Are Expected To Explain Ourselves (The Stigmata)