Earlier this month, Mark Maggiori opened his latest solo show, Beyond the Golden Skies, at Legacy Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ. There was no shortage of hype going into the show, and the Insta-verse has been abuzz with videos and reaction from his uber-successful opening. Sixteen paintings sold by draw at retail price, with an additional nine paintings sold at auction at 'well over' the high estimates, which is a bit of an understatement considering the piece In the Middle Runs A River sold for a cool half a million dollars. But is all the hype really warranted?
Here's what's so great about Mark Maggiori.
THE STORY. Each Mark Maggiori painting tells a story. A carefully curated stage with characters and places that are somehow both entirely believable and too fantastic to be true. This is purposeful; the settings and people are real, photographed and staged in the few remaining wild places of the West. They are then interpreted in the studio to include the perfect composition, the most magical lighting, and of course those trademark Maggiori clouds.
THE FOUNDATION. Mark Maggiori is no amateur - he's a generational talent (though to use the word 'talent' alone belies the effort that goes into developing a craft like his). There is a reason his work is reminiscent of the old masters - because he has followed a similar path of education, doing his formal study in Paris, and putting in the work of maintaining those foundational muscles. And trust me, it's work. These are not skills you develop and then 'have' in perpetuity. These are skills that are trained and maintained with effort.
Certainly his skill is obvious in the painstakingly rendered detail of his finished pieces. But it is perhaps even more evident in his sketches and studies, in which the confidence of his mark making and his sense of value and proportion are on full display. Each finished work is hung securely on this masterful underlying structure of form, composition, light, value, and color.
THE BRAND. You know a Mark Maggiori painting when you see one, and that's harder to accomplish than you might think. It's in the palette, it's in the romantic narrative, and it's certainly in the clouds. But the artist himself is also the brand. It's the whole look - the tattoos, the vintage clothing, the boots, the stunning studio space, and the vintage American cars. All of it sells. And maybe there is something to the dichotomy of a French artist painting the American West ... and lapping the field while he does it.
THE ACCESS. It is rare to find an artist of this caliber who will do both limited edition (a set number) and timed edition prints (30 hour sale window with no limit on the number sold). Even more rare to find one that will ask your opinion on which pieces to reproduce. The skeptic would say he sells more work this way. Sure. It's good business. But the reality for the consumer is, you can purchase high quality prints of one of the great living western artists for a very reasonable price. Follow on Instagram and you'll even get some behind the scenes looks at what it takes to produce and distribute these prints, including the mountains of prints he signs and numbers by hand with each edition.
Story. Foundation. Brand. Access. There is a reason his work smashed auction records. Personally, I was grateful to have purchased prints of his sketches years ago, and maybe kicking myself just a little for not buying the one original I've been fortunate enough to see in person (though let's be honest - that was never a very realistic option). And while you might feel a little sticker shock when you see that $500,000 price tag ... I don't think it will be too long from now that we'll be thinking, "what a steal."