German artist sells a painting a day | Arts | DW | 06.05.2013
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German artist sells a painting a day

Berlin artist Edward B. Gordon paints a picture every day and auctions them all online. His online auctions are open around the clock - and nearly all find satisfied buyers.

Far out on the eastern edge of Berlin, in a former industrial estate in the district of Schöneweide, you'll find Edward B. Gordon's atelier. It's a place far removed from the hip districts of Mitte and Prenzlauerberg. This is Gordon's retreat.

With his wide cord trousers, checked shirt and gelled-back hair, the 47-year-old artist could almost be from another era. But his appearance, like his concrete surroundings, is deceptive.

Curious Dog, by Edward B. Gordon

"Curious Dog" by Edward B. Gordon

Edward B. Gordon is clearly a man of the here and now. With his concept of creating and selling a painting a day, Gordon exploits the advantages of digital technology like few other German artists working today.

The art of self-discipline

The notion of producing a painting each and every day originates from the United States, where many artists try to sell their works themselves - and many are very good at it.

One of the secrets of success is persistence. Every day for the past seven years, Gordon has painted a 15-square-centimeter (2.3-square-inch) picture. It's a strictly regimented plan.

"In the mornings I try to find a motif, either by going for a walk or by arranging something here in my atelier. At 3:00 pm I raise the drawbridge and then start to work," the passionate amateur pianist explained. The finished works are available online by midnight at the latest.

An urban chronicler

Most of Edward B. Gordon's "daily pictures" depict the vicissitudes of Berlin: inconspicuous corners where people wander past with shopping bags, lone trash collectors navigating the streets, young Berliners waiting at traffic crossings or just meandering through the city.

Edward B. Gordon

Edward B. Gordon has found an impressively international and dedicated fan base online

Gordon is an acute observer and thanks the traditional analogue press for his online success. A series of images in the weekly newspaper Die Zeit generated lots of clicks - and sales. A bit of luck is surely also part of the equation.

Gordon's blog gets a high number of hits and very few works remain unsold. He's painted almost 2,300 pictures in the past few years. The starting price for each work is 150 euros ($196) but most of them go for more. His fan base is now impressively international.

Collectors of Gordon's works are students, lawyers, and real estate agents from around the world. Often they are people who have never been to a gallery, but are interested in art.

Buyers don't pay fixed prices decided by a gallery owner, rather they "vote with their feet," as Gordon calls it. Purchasers can decide if they want to pay 500 euros or 1,000 euros. And when they click the "like" button on his Facebook page, he's happy about that, too.

Digital independence

The established art market still turns up its nose, however. For some critics, art and the Internet just don't go together. One must experience art physically before buying it, some say, one must be able to smell the paint or be able to touch the canvas. All that is bypassed when a painting is purchased online.

After the Rain, by Edward B. Gordon ### Achtung: Die Bilder können mit freundlicher Genehmigung des Künstlers auf unseren Seiten veröffentlicht werden, aber im Zusammenhang mit einer Berichterstattung über den Künstler und mit Nennung der Quelle: ###

"After the Rain" by Edward B. Gordon

But Gordon the autodidact can live with that. He was born into a family of artists and studied acting in London. The artist has never exhibited in a gallery, an art club or any other sanctified art industry enclave.

He regularly receives offers from galleries wanting to represent him, but he turns them down. Gordon would prefer to enjoy his digital independence a little while longer.

Nevertheless, the Berlin painter is pleased that the critically acclaimed Swiss publishing house Kein und Aber is going to publish a monograph his works. The foreword to the book was written by the editor of the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Frank Schirrmacher, who, like the former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, is a big fan of the artist.

Despite his growing popularity, the daily sale of his works online has not made Gordon a wealthy man. He hasn't taken a holiday in seven years and regularly works late into the night. Sometimes he only gets four hours sleep, he explained, before getting up again in search of new motifs.

Edward B. Gordon is tenacious. He will continue to paint - and blog - a picture a day.

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