Art Selected for an Exhibition After It Had Been Sold

I have a small dilemma and was hoping for some advice.

I submitted work to a gallery for an exhibition and they chose two of my pieces!

Here’s the bad news: One of them is a piece that is currently with another gallery, having been held over from a previous exhibition (they kept it in hopes they would find a buyer at a trade show in the future). The other was JUST purchased by a friend.

Is it terrible to ask the previous gallery for the piece back even though they seemed eager to try and sell it through them?

How “bad” does it look for me to say that one of the pieces the new gallery chose is not for sale even though at the time I submitted, it was?

If anyone had any advice or previous experience with this type of thing I would love to know your thoughts!


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I would ask the new gallery if they still want the sold piece- in my experience only a museum will exhibit a piece they can’t sell. Maybe you can offer them another piece instead? Regarding the unsold piece- how long has the first gallery had the piece? If it’s been there for a while (more than 6 months) I’d think of moving it to the new gallery. Good luck-- it’s nice to have your work in demand, a good problem to have!


I second Natalie here–these are good problems to have indeed. I would also encourage you to take my “all-cards-on-the-table” approach with the galleries involved and let them know how the scenario has unfolded. As I find your work to be consistent in both aesthetic qualities and craftsmanship/demonstrable virtuosity–I don’t think that it would be a huge problem for them to make a late hour substitution.

If you can—keep us posted!