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Does size matter in art and in what way?

August 19, 2016


The size of your studio affects the size of your work.  At least that is what I have found through the nomadic lifestyle I have lived over the past 4 years, moving 3 times (all in the same city), and living in places that my public teacher salary allows aka renting a room and bathroom.  I struggle with working large because I simply do not have the space to house them during the making or even rotation of shows, sales, etc.   This being the case there are a few things that I think about and have observed.  When I go to museums, galleries, and juried exhibitions, the works who seem to frequently win awards, get housed in permanent collections, or have high price tags on them often have one thing in common, they are large and in charge of commanding your attention.  I say often because I did actually become the exception to this in my last show where I received Best of Show for a smaller work, so I do understand this is "not always" the case.  That being said, I still fear that certain art circles only appreciate those works that are done in a grand scale because size to them means, "not commercial," and therefore the conceptual nature of the work gets a certain philosophical appreciation above others.  When I visit graduate studios of well established programs I often see very large self made canvases in production, because well, they can, the size of the studio and access to woodshops allows it, and it's economical, but I also can't help but to think that it is encouraged and expected.  Is there no longer a time and place for small works in academic institutions?  Does pushing the boundaries simply mean pushing the size limitations?  Is this perception limited to painting and sculpture?  I almost think that it would be more "controversial" and "provocative" to create smaller scale works considering the large canvases start to blend in with each other after a while.  Is this perception a result of the thinking that a small work probably doesn't take as much time to create as a larger piece and therefor is less "groundbreaking?"  I find myself struggling with this because lately I do in fact want to explore working large for experimental reasons.  Like an animal in a cage, I want to explode out and explore my ideas of what could be if my ideas were done on a grander scale.  My motivations are mainly for experimental desires fueled by the internal need to create and challenge the unknown but I feel held back by my space and current circumstances.  Will this reflect negatively upon me in certain art circles?  In an industry where risk taking is rewarded and size matters, will my work look too safe?  Or, am I just making excuses for myself and I should ignore the concerns of my roommate and bank account and just start going big?  Artists, Directors, Gallerists, please, what are your thoughts on this topic?

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