top of page


Talmadge Paintings

I was not looking forward to writing a bio.  Fortunately a friend suggested that I ought to just "borrow" an existing one, so I Googled Artist James Talmadge and was relieved to find that several online galleries had already written about me.  I copied what they posted as is, crediting the galleries.  If you have any interest in reading them here's the link:


The business of art

I can tell you firsthand this realization can be soul-crushing to the creative spirit of an emerging artist.  As a young painter it was distressing to understand how one's work, reduced to it's essential form, was to dealers of art nothing much different than a can of beans on a supermarket shelf. 

You'll never hear that said out loud but there is only one bottom line to the art business and that's sales.  Or it wouldn't be a business very long.  Thus it's especially important for artists to remain as objective and detached from their work as possible once it's completed and out of their hands, presumably to be displayed for sale.

As a commodity a work of art isn't worth the price of the canvas it's painted on if you can't sell it to someone, in which case the canvas might actually be worth quite a bit less once someone has applied paint to it it.  Thus the reality for art dealers navigating our modern enterprise system it's really sales that determine for them the greatness of a painter.  In that regard I've been fortunate to be modestly great.

Art is a perception

Fortunately for all concerned art is perceived as more than than merely the sum of its parts.  It transcends that can of beans as having an intrinsic value which is not generally associated with beans, though in the case of famine the beans will no doubt rise considerably in value against works of art.

Aside from the truth of art as a commodity, and unlike beans, it's not generally sold by the pound, though it is quite often priced in square inches (More on that later).


The value of art is almost always a matter of perception.  If you ask an art dealer what the monetary value might be on a particular piece of art, the honest reply would be that it's worth whatever the market will bear.


I've seen some pretty unappealing Picasso's go for millions whereas had the exact same work been painted by uncle Louie from down the street, they would have likely had no value whatsoever.

In determining what the market will bear, the value of a work of art is largely based on what the buyer perceives as its value.  This is why those gallery bios are so important. 


Speaking of Picasso I was invited to stay at the home of a couple living in Cannes on the French Riviera.  The wife, Renée, was an art dealer who had known Picasso quite well.  Over the years she'd handled his art sales around the world and she had quite a few stories to tell about the famous painter which she referred to as Maestro.

One story in particular stands out as an example of how the perception of a work of art created even by an internationally acclaimed maestro is not always enough to convince someone of more common taste to hang it on their wall.  It's a bit of a shaggy dog story but worth the read.  Here's a link in case you want to read it:


What I think is more honest and informative are my feelings about painting and the business of art.  Galleries (as you can read for yourself) usually offer a brief bio meant to present the artist's background and style of art, while attempting to condense a lifetime of work into a few short punchy sentences in praise of the subject's abilities and accomplishments. 


This is always a highly complimentary and likely exaggerated summary of the artist's best features with the aim of not just introducing the artist to the reader but to essentially establish that this person is worthy of the selling price of his/her work.  Because art is a business.

Talmadge in his studio 2016

bottom of page