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Lack of varnishing?

I have been to two artist festivals this summer with dozens of artists and hundreds of paintings on display (mostly oils). Of all of those, only a very few were varnished. The rest appeared unvarnished or if they had matt varnish it was impossible to tell it was on.

A lot of the paintings were for sale and must have been transported so I was surprised that nearly all weren't varnished.

Does anyone have any ideas why this was the case? Maybe it's not the 'tradition' here in the UK, or is there other practical reasons I'm not aware of?



  • edited August 2016
    @Richard_P there are some differences regarding varnishing I think and it varies from culture to culture. 
    I met a few great artists in my country personally in the past (really great I mean, most original and made a lot of money, political background, enormous worldwide fame etc.). Had discussions with them on various topics including varnishing. None of them recommended varnishing before completion of 15-20 years of a painting.
    Late Indian artist Bikash Bhattacharya showed me one painting in his heavily publicised retrospective exhibition in late 90s, it was dry like straw and was going for varnishing after the exhibition (it was a property of a famous businessman). Now most of these guys are in their 80s-90s. Some of them are dead. So, there is no possibility that such artists were telling something without knowing after lifetime of intense work.
    But there are contradictory theories to this. I am not sure if there has been an enormous technological advancement in varnishing or not. So, this is slightly confusing.
  • From my understanding there are many reasons.  Most often it is a question of Time and Money.  "Why varnish when you are selling a quick piece to an average buyer who does not know better?"

    Sometimes it is varnish fear.
    Sometimes it is just personal preference.
  • Sometimes the work is "fresh" in some respect. I know of a couple artists who paint and sell and tell their buyers "have it varnished by a professional after a year." Next time you go to a festival ask if they are varnished and if not why not. The sellers will not mind at all.
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