Exhibition opportunities are varied, ranging from commercial galleries to cultural foundations, municipal and State-run institutions, Biennials, Salons and independent spaces.
Many state and municipal museums have an annual selection process to which artists may apply for exhibition, but in many cases little if any support is provided for the exhibition itself beyond the space. It can be quite common for the artist to have to pay for the (obligatory) production of promotion material and the customary opening ‘cocktail' (involving the contracting of waiters, hiring of glasses, purchasing of refreshments, etc). One recent exhibitor at a state-run museum was obliged to pay for the 1500 print run of a high-specification invitation covered in the logos of the museum sponsors, but without being permitted to add logos of any sponsors of the exhibition itself, for example. With such conditions, many artists seek other forms of showing their work, and the growth independent artist-run spaces and street art is a response to the poor conditions attached to showing in major institutions.
Some commercial galleries will operate on similar lines, agreeing to show an artist on payment of a fee, and charging a hefty commission on any sales.
Salons and open competitions were formally ways of artists submitting work to a jury for selection and awarding of prizes. From the 1940s until the 1970s many artists were awarded foreign travel grants or acquisition prizes from such events. In recent years there has been a decline in such events, with those remaining often being more focused on recent graduates and younger artists.
Image: MASP - São Paulo Museum of Art, photograph by Francis Costa