Leslie Rankow Fine Arts

INTERNATIONAL ART ADVISORY SERVICE

Bespoke: Sean Kelly’s gallery in Hudson Yards, with Cecile Panzieri, Senior Partner

Cecile Panzieri & Toshiko Mori

IN 2012, SEAN KELLY OPENED A NEW 22,000 SQUARE FOOT SPACE AT 475 TENTH AVENUE IN A HISTORIC 1914 BUILDING. THE TWO-STORY GALLERY WAS THE FIRST OF ITS KIND IN THE DEVELOPING HUDSON YARDS NEIGHBORHOOD, AND INCLUDES 16-FOOR CEILINGS, A MAIN GALLERY FEATURING 2,900 SQ FT OF EXHIBITION SPACE AS WELL AS ADDITIONAL PROJECT SPACES AND A BLACK-BOX THEATER.

DESIGNED BY AWARD-WINNING ARCHITECT TOSHIKO MORI, WHICH OPENED WITH A SERIES OF EVENTS CULMINATING IN ITS INAUGURAL EXHIBITION, BODYSPACE, OF THE SCULPTURE OF ANTHONY GORMLEY. AFTER TWENTY YEARS AS A GALLERIST, SEAN KELLY WAS ABLE TO ARTICULATE THE IDEAL EXHIBITION AND STORAGE SPACE FOR HIS ARTISTS AND HIS STAFF. AND TOSHIKO MORI WAS HIGHLY QUALIFIED TO REALIZE IT. SHE WAS AWARDED THE AIA DESIGN AWARD IN INTERIORS FOR HER UNIQUE ARCHITECTURAL APPROACH TO THE HUDSON YARDS LOCATION.

Toshiko Mori immigrated to the United States as a teen in the 1960s, and is highly regarded for infusing American and Japanese modernism in her poetic approach. “Architecture is multidisciplinary and therefore there are many sources of inspiration. I never dream up in a vacuum,” said the Harvard professor, in a recent interview with ArchDaily. “There are so many conditions and constraints. There is a client, site, program, and so on. But aesthetically, my inspiration goes back to Japanese traditional architecture, which has a sense of clarity and tectonics. That’s my DNA.”

Mori has designed residences for many an art fixture—including gallerist Sean Kelly and fashion designer Tomas Maier—as well as numerous academic and cultural institutions.

https://www.artsy.net/sean-kelly-gallery

Sean Kelly Gallery
475 Tenth Avenue at 36th Street

TODAY, CECILE PANZIERI, SENIOR PARTNER AT SEAN KELLY, ENRICHES OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE ARCHITECTURAL PROCESS TO CREATE THIS LANDMARK GALLERY SPACE.

CECILE, WELCOME BACK!


THE GALLERY ALSO IS REPRESENTATIVE OF A WIDE RANGE OF MEDIUMS, PAINTING, SCULPTURE, PHOTOGRAPHY, INSTALLATION? WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CRITERIA THAT YOU LOOK FOR WHEN CONSIDERING AN ARTIST’S WORK?  We think that it is important to have a balanced representation of all media, but we tend not to give too much importance to this.  Most important is whether the work of an artist has relevance and would be a good “fit” for what the gallery represents and stands for.  It is hard to fully describe what the “right fit” is but we instinctively recognize it. 

Sean Kelly Gallery

YOUR MOVE TO 36th STREET AND 10th AVENUE WAS PRESCIENT. WHAT PROMPTED THE MOVE AND HOW DID YOU MAKE A DECISION TO MOVE OUT OF CHELSEA AT THE TIME?

We moved to our current location in October 2012, almost 8 years ago.  We did so because our lease on 29th street could not be renewed: the owners wanted to sell (and did).  At the time, this was pre Hurricane Katrina, finding the right space in Chelsea was very difficult, and the options for ground floor spaces meant much higher rents for less space and very costly renovations.  We heard that Exit Art was looking to leave their location following the passing of its founder, Jeanette Ingberman.  We went to visit the space and immediately saw that it offered great possibilities for the gallery’s continued growth (the gallery has a total of 22,000 square feet).  We did not hesitate.

We knew that at some point Hudson Yards would emerge, but back then it was nonexistent.  We were used to being on the edge of what was SoHo and then Chelsea, and did not mind moving further north.  Known to be a gallery destination, we were confident  that we would be able to continue to attract existing as well as new visitors.  A  noticeable change to visitorship,  because of the ease of access it provided, is the extension of the 7 subway line, and the opening of restaurants, food courts and salad bars in and around Hudson Yards. 


Sean Kelly Gallery

 

TELL US ABOUT THE ARCHITECTURAL PROCESS IN RENOVATING A SPACE THAT HAS TURNED OUT TO BE SO BEAUTIFUL AND FUNCTIONAL?  

Sean loves architecture and understands what a space can and should do.  Working with Toshiko Mori, whom he had known for many years and who had designed his residence upstate, is something that he really wanted to do.  Sean and Toshiko have great aesthetic and intellectual affinities, and share a kinship for what design must do for art, their maker, and the viewer.   It was a very exciting project to be closely involved with which was realized in record breaking time.   As you know, both my glass walled office and that of another director, are right up front behind the reception desk: we are deliberately visible and accessible, and found that even a hand wave or smile while on the phone or in our office is very appreciated as it humanizes the gallery visit. 

Sean Kelly
Gallery Library

WHAT DOES A GALLERY THAT IS SO EXTENSIVE IN SIZE AND VIEWING AND STORAGE SPACE AFFORD THE GALLERY IN TERMS OF EXHIBITIONS?

When we were thinking about the new space,  we wanted to retain the flexibility and versatility of our space on 29th street.  We designed 3 exhibition spaces that could be all used or not by an artist (2 on the ground floor, one on our downstairs floor), a very large storage  in our downstairs floor, and private viewing spaces and open offices.  The gallery space has worked very well. 

In order to adapt to the changes to how we do what we do brought on by the Covid 19 pandemic, we will use one of the exhibition spaces for “remote” viewings, and for the photography and video of  artworks  to provide as much visual information about an artwork of interest to collectors, and to broaden the visual presence of our artists on our website and on the art fairs’ on-line viewing rooms. 


IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG POST, CECILE WILL EXPLORE SOME OF THE WAYS IN WHICH THE GALLERY HAS ADAPTED TO THE RESTRICTIONS THAT ARISE FROM COVID-19 AND THEIR EXPANSION OF ONLINE ACCESS TO SEAN KELLY GALLERY. 

THANK YOU FOR FOLLOWING!

 

A thoughtfully considered expansion: the history of Sean Kelly Gallery, with Senior Partner, Cecile Panzieri

Sean Kelly, Cecile Panzieri, Lauren Kelly

THE CURRENT EXHIBITION AT SEAN KELLY GALLERY, A SWEEPING TWO FLOOR SPACE AT THE CORNER OF 36th STREET AND TENTH AVENUE AT THE STARt OF HUDSON YARDS, IS THE NEW WORK OF SHAHZIA SIKANDER WHO ENJOYS AN EXTENSIVE EXHIBITION AND MUSEUM HISTORY. IT IS AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF THE DEPTH AND BREATH OF EXHIBITIONS LAUNCHED AT THE GALLERY FOR OVER THE LAST THIRTY YEARS. ORIGINALLY TRAINED AS AN ARTIST, SEAN TRULY SPEAKS THEIR LANGUAGE AND RESPECTS THE STRUGGLE OF THEIR EFFORTS. THESE VALUES ARE EMBRACED BY HIS SENIOR PARTNER AT THE GALLERY, CECILE PANZIERI, WHO STARTED AT THE GALLERY’S  FRONT DESK IN 1999.

https://www.skny.com/gallery

Shahzia Sikander
Nov 5- Dec 19, 2020
Sean Kelly Gallery

Weeping Willows, Liquid Tongues, Shahzia Sikander’s first exhibition with Sean Kelly Gallery, is an expansive, in-depth look into the artist’s recent work, featuring dynamic, large-and-intimately-scaled drawings, a captivating new single channel video-animation, luminous, intricate mosaics and her first free-standing sculpture.

In this rich and diverse body of work, Sikander explores various iconographies and power structures to present transformative ideas; her interests in literature, history, sociology, psychoanalysis and the examination of how culture and society shape the imagination are all fodder for her work. Storytelling, language and text are also compelling influences and cornerstones of the artist’s methodology. “Language is fundamental to my practice,” Sikander has noted, explaining,

When I read words that inspire me, the relationship cast with the experience itself is precise and tactile. Visual experience is often a sensorial turmoil. The process of writing allows me to reflect. It will elicit multiple responses over an undetermined period of time. It is that space of interiority and of unknown measure that piques my curiosity. Out of the amalgamation of visual memory, chaos of experience, and influence of the literary comes amorphous creativity through the act of drawing. 

Shahzia Sikander, 2020, Sean Kelly Gallery, New York, November 5 – December 19, 2020.

Shahzia Sikander
Arose
Sean Kelly Gallery

THE LRFA BLOG IS DELIGHTED TO WELCOME CECILE PANZIERI BACK TO SHARE HER RECOLLECTIONS OF THE EARLY DAYS OF THE GALLERY AND A HISTORY OF HER INVOLVEMENT IN ITS IMPRESSIVE BUT THOUGHTFUL EXPANSION.

CECILE, WHAT DID YOU DO WHEN YOU JOINED SEAN KELLY GALLERY AND WHAT WERE YOUR INITIAL RESPONSIBILITIES?

Holding various positions at Galerie Lelong where I started at the front desk is something that prepared me very well for what came next which felt like the right opportunity at the right time.  I joined the Sean Kelly Gallery as Director in January 1999.  My primary responsibilities were to put in place or improve on the gallery’s administrative and organization structures to foster growth, develop the gallery’s participation in art fairs, make sales, work with designated artists and travel to represent the gallery as needed.   The range of those responsibilities perfectly suited my natural disposition and temperament, education and prior gallery experience.  I am thrilled to see everyday, first hand, the impact of my contribution for over more than 20 years of involvement with the gallery. 

James Casebere

YOU ARE NOW THE SENIOR PARTNER AT THE GALLERY. WHAT ARE YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES AND IN WHAT AREAS OF THE BUSINESS ARE YOU PRIMARILY INVOLVED?  

I definitely spend much more time with Sean focusing and thinking about the big picture and less time dealing with the minutiae of the day to day.  We have a very strong and experienced team in place which we have trained to embrace working with autonomy and accountability, therefore I do not need to continue to be as much the go-to person for everything.  I am enjoying having time to deepen my relationships with collectors, trusted art advisors, artists and colleagues, and more time to read and think in order to contribute to the growing need for original on-line content and social media of the gallery brought about by the impact of the pandemic.  

Anthony Gormley

 THE GALLERY HAS A ROSTER OF VERY IMPRESSIVE AND RESPECTED ARTISTS THAT INCLUDE ARTISTS WITH WHOM YOU HAVE HAD LONG WORKING RELATIONSHIPS,  INCLUDING JAMES CASEBERE, MARINA ABRAMOVIC, JULIAO SARMENTO, ANTONY GORMLEY, AND REBECCA HORN TO NAME A FEW.  HOW DO YOU ACCOUNT FOR THEIR LOYALTY TO THE GALLERY?

 It is one of our greatest strengths and is a result of Sean’s (who was trained as an artist) profound understanding of an artist’s nature, work, voice and thus place in the history of art.  He is like a music conductor that has engendered mutual loyalty.  The past few months have reminded us of this.

Marina Abramovic

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE EXHIBITIONS OF THESE ARTISTS THAT RESONATE THE MOST STRONGLY WITH YOU AND WHY? There are too many to describe but what I can say is that I like complex and demanding exhibitions or installations which makes me think,  first about what I do not know instead of what I do, and push me to take the time to open my eyes and mind. 

Rebecca Horn

THE GALLERY HAS AN INTERNATIONAL ROSTER REPRESENTING A VERY DIVERSE CULTURAL SPECTRUM OF ARTISTS RANGING FROM THE CELEBRATED CHINESE PAINTER LIU WEI, JAPANESE MARIKO MORI, GERMAN PHOTOGRAPHER FRANK THIEL, AND BLACK AMERICAN ARTIST, KEHINDE WILEY.  HOW DO YOU, IN GENERAL, DECIDE ON REPRESENTING SOMEONE NEW?

 It is an intuitive process that requires being open to looking, being and staying informed and being spontaneous.   It is a time consuming but very important aspect of the activities of a gallery and its future.  We have tried different ways to go about doing this but in the end when I look back, I can say that a lot has to do with happenstance, patience, conviction and decisiveness.

IN OUR NEXT BLOG POST, WE WILL LEARN ABOUT THE PLANNING AND ARCHITECTURE OF THE CURRENT GALLERY AND ITS
PRESCIENT MOVE TO HUDSON YARDS!  PLEASE JOIN US.

A warm welcome to Cecile Panzieri, Senior Partner at Sean Kelly Gallery, New York

Cecile Panzieri
Senior Partner, Sean Kelly Gallery

 

 

 

Sean Kelly Gallery was founded by its British-born owner in 1991 and operated privately in SoHo until 1995 when its first public space opened at 43 Mercer Street. During these formative years, it established a reputation for diverse, intellectually driven, unconventional exhibitions. The original list of artists represented included Marina Abramović, James Casebere, Callum Innes, Joseph Kosuth and Julião Sarmento – exemplifying the Gallery’s commitment to presenting important, challenging contemporary art.

In 2001, Sean Kelly moved into a converted 7,000 square-foot industrial space on 29th Street in the Chelsea gallery district. The move to this new, spacious location enabled the Gallery to mount increasingly ambitious, museum-quality exhibitions to great critical acclaim. During its early period in Chelsea, the Gallery’s roster of artists expanded to include such notable figures as Iran do Espírito Santo, Antony Gormley, Rebecca Horn, and Frank Thiel. In the ensuing years, the Gallery undertook representation of Leandro Erlich, Johan Grimonprez, Laurent Grasso and Anthony McCall.

Module 2

In October 2012, Sean Kelly opened a new amazing 22,000 square foot space at 475 Tenth Avenue in an historic 1914 building. Award-winning architect Toshiko Mori designed the two-story gallery, which opened with an exhibition of work by Antony Gormley. Toshiko Mori was awarded the AIA Design Award in Interiors for her unique architectural approach to this Hudson Yards location. Since the gallery’s prescient move to Hudson Yards,  it continues to add internationally acclaimed artists to its roster, such as David Claerbout, Jose Dávila, Candida Höfer, Mariko Mori, and Sun Xun.

The LRFA blog is delighted to welcome the warm and charming Cecile Panzieri. Cecile came to America as a student, and her professional career path was transformed. She is now a partner at Sean Kelly and contributes her vast knowledge and intimate acquaintance of the work of each of the gallery artists with the museum curators and collectors who frequent their art fair booths and beautiful gallery space at 36th Street and 10th Avenue

https://www.skny.com/

CECILE, WELCOME TO THE LRFA BLOG AND THANK YOU FOR CONTRIBUTING THIS INTERVIEW. THESE ARE UNPREDICTABLE TIMES, AT BEST, AND THE LRFA BLOG IS EXCITED TO SPEAK WITH YOU  NOT ONLY ABOUT THE ILLUSTRIOUS 30-YEAR HISTORY OF SEAN KELLY BUT ALSO THE WAYS IN WHICH THE GALLERY HAS DEVELOPED 21st CENTURY WAYS TO SURVIVE AND THRIVE IN THE “NEW” DIGITAL ART WORLD.

Sean Kelly Gallery
475 Tenth Avenue
New York, NY

HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON A PROFESSION IN THE ART WORLD AND WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO REACH THAT GOAL?

I was born and grew up in Paris where I studied as well.  I have university degrees in Economics and Business Administration, as well as Masters’ degrees in Communication  and Visual Arts Administration.  The latter is from New York University which is how I came to the United States to pursue my dream of combining my love for the arts, especially the visual arts, with my penchant and natural inclination for business administration.  The trigger was a scholarship from the French chapter of the Rotary Club, and subsequently a graduate assistantship from NYU. 
Moving to the US to study changed my life!  I fell in love with New York City and became a US citizen in 2006.  The two year full time Master’s degree at NYU combined classes and internships. I interned in the Education Department at the Whitney Museum during the 1989 Whitney Biennial, in the  Art Advisory Department at the Museum of Modern (the department closed in 1996), the Visual Arts Cultural Services of the French Embassy and Galerie Lelong, New York. 


Laurent Grasso at Sean Kelly Gallery

DID YOU HAVE EXPOSURE TO THE ARTS AS A YOUNG WOMAN AND HAS THAT ALWAYS BEEN A SUBJECT OF INTEREST TO YOU?

Luckily, I did – thanks to my maternal grandparents who loved all art forms and collected fine art, and thanks to my parents, both music professors, who were very artistically inclined and curious.  My mother always made a point of carefully planning a stop to visit a museum, see an exhibition, a historical monument or sites whenever we went on a road trip.  My father loves to draw and make watercolors, something that he would do in the open air in Paris (he had favorite sites) whenever he had time and on vacation.  He continues to do so at the tender age of 93,  and mails drawings and watercolors to my daughter regularly.  Along the way, especially, whilst studying at NYU, I met wonderful instructors and peers who shaped and guided the beginning of my career in the art world.  

Sean Kelly and Kehinde Wiley
The Angel Orensanz Foundation

 

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST WORKING EXPERIENCE IN THE ART WORLD?

My first paid professional experience was at Galerie Lelong’s front desk in June 1990 where Mary Sabbatino had recently been hired as Director.  I was very fortunate to be mentored and to learn my craft from one of the smartest, most dedicated and outstanding art professionals. There I got to wear many hats during this formative period, including working closely with artists on exhibitions, catalogues, and selling art both in the gallery and at art fairs – at the time there was really only one major contemporary art fair in the US and it took place in May in Chicago.  Also the Nineties were a very difficult period economically – the art world was not spared, and the great recession from 1989 and the years following deeply affected it.  To survive, one had to be resilient, take risks, work hard and have fresh ideas.  Under Mary’s leadership, the gallery started to work with artists such as Petah Coyne, Andy Goldsworthy, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Krzysztof Wodiczko, as well as under-recognized artists from Latin America such as Alfredo Jaar, Jac Leirner, the Estate of Ana Mendieta, and Cildo Meireles.   The gallery presented ambitious exhibitions and installations with which I was deeply involved.  My love and passion for what I continue to do today was birthed there.
IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG, CECILE WILL SPEAK ABOUT STARTING AT SEAN KELLY GALLERY WHERE SHE HAS EVOLVED FROM A MEMBER OF THE GALLERY STAFF TO SENIOR PARTNER. BOTH SEAN KELLY AND CECILE SHARE A PASSION FOR ART THAT EXPANDS AND GROWS WITH EACH YEAR ALONG WITH THEIR KNOWLEDGE, ENTHUSIASM FOR BOTH SUPPORTING ESTABLISHED ARTISTS AND DISCOVERING NEW ONES.
PLEASE JOIN US!

 

 

Honoring the past and shaping the future, with Laura Lester, Director of Richard Gray Gallery

Laura Lester
Director
Gray Gallery

When Richard Gray died in 2018, he left an extraordinary legacy of commitment to art of the highest caliber and to the institutions that support it. Richard Gray opened his first gallery in 1963 in Chicago, becoming one of the first gallerist’s in the city to show work by some of the day’s most prominent artists. Gray was “equally clear-eyed about his life and career.” In 1996, under the aegis of  his son Paul Gray’s direction, the gallery opened a space on Madison Avenue in New York. In 2017, Richard Gray Gallery opened a second Chicago space. Known as the Gray Warehouse, it occupies 5,000 square feet and is located in the city’s West End neighborhood. Richard Gray Gallery now regularly shows work by some of the key artists of the past half-century, among them Alex Katz, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Theaster Gates, David Hockney, Dine, and Rashid Johnson.

Leon Polk Smith Foundation
Untitled (No. 7613), 1976
Paint on canvas

In addition to his work for the gallery, Gray was involved with various art institutions, both ones specific to Chicago and to the entire U.S. art world at large. He served as past president of the Art Dealers Association of America and  of the Chicago Art Dealers Association. He was a trustee at the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art, among other institutions. Gray was also vice chairman of the Friends of the Farnsworth House, where he helped oversee the preservation of its Mies van der Rohe–designed building. In 2008, the Art Institute named a wing after Gray and his wife, Mary; the museum’s holdings include prints and drawings by Peter Paul Rubens, Eugène Delacroix, Henri Matisse, and others that previously belonged to the couple.

ARTnews, Alex Greenberger, May 16, 2018

To continue this exceptional history, Gray continues to expand, add to its artists’ roster and continue the traditions of its’ founder. Following a 26-year tenure at Christie’s where she served as International Director of Impressionist and Modern Art, Sharon Kim joined Gray as a partner. Laura Lester joined the gallery shortly thereafter as Director to add her experience and knowledge of post-war and contemporary art and its most prominent collectors to the mix. “I am delighted Laura has joined Gray,” Kim says. “Her passion, knowledge and expertise are highly regarded by all who have worked with her and I look forward to reuniting with her in our New York gallery.”

https://www.richardgraygallery.com/exhibitions

Today, the LRFA blog is honored to speak with Laura Lester about the present and future plans of Gray gallery.

Jaune Plensa
Gray Warehouse, Chicago
Winter 2020

LAURA, THANK YOU FOR THIS INTERVIEW. WHO ARE SOME OF THE ARTISTS THAT GRAY REPRESENTS?

Gray has a long and direct working relationship with a roster of contemporary legends such as David Hockney, Jim Dine, Jaume Plensa, Theaster Gates, and Alex Katz as well as wonderful estate relationships including the Leon Polk Smith Foundation. Gray also has a stalwart nearly sixty-year history with many of the giants of European Modernism and American Post-War, such as Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon, Alexander Calder, Jean Dubuffet, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Motherwell, Joan Mitchell, Agnes Martin, and Cy Twombly.

DO YOU HAVE A HISTORY WITH SOME OF THE ARTISTS AND WHICH ONES ARE THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU?
As my experience is mainly in the Post-War and Modern secondary market, Gray’s deep and well-established roots in this area are a really fruitful platform for the work I do with my clients.

Theaster Gates
Highway with Mountain, 2019
Rubber, tar and wood

DOES THE GALLERY DIVIDE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE DIALOGUE WITH ITS ARTISTS AMONGST THE STAFF? IF SO, WHICH ARTISTS DO YOU WORK WITH DIRECTLY IN TERMS OF SCHEDULING THEIR INTERNATIONAL GALLERY AND MUSEUM EXHIBITIONS?

We are a small team and work together collaboratively, but we certainly divide and conquer in terms of expertise and experience. I have co-directors that focus mainly on Gray’s contemporary program and also serve as liaisons with our living artists. My concentration will be mainly on our secondary market program and our estates.

DO THE ARTISTS EXHIBIT IN BOTH THE CHICAGO AND THE NEW YORK GALLERIES OR DO SOME EXHIBIT EXCLUSIVELY IN EITHER CITY?

Programming is planned for New York or Chicago based mostly on which of our gallery spaces would best serve the scope and scale of the exhibition, as well as the timing of other events in that particular city such as art fairs or auctions that will bring visitors in. Our gallery in New York is a jewel box in a historic Upper East Side gallery building, best suited to more intimate presentations, as is our gallery on the 38th floor of the John Hancock building in Chicago. Our newest space, Gray Warehouse, is a large-scale gallery west of the Chicago loop that allows us to mount ambitious presentations similar to that of a Chelsea gallery. We hope that our programming in Chicago and New York balances and compliments each other.

Alex Katz: Flowers
Untitled, yellow-green, 2019
Oil on linen

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE WAYS IN WHICH THE GALLERY PLANS IS USING DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY TO LAUNCH  ONLINE PLATFORMS FOR YOUR ARTISTS?

We have had great success utilizing our online viewing rooms, either for presenting a single important artwork or to stage full online exhibitions with multiple works. We put together a beautiful online-only exhibition of paintings by the late Chicago based artist Evelyn Statsinger; our online viewing room allowed us to contextualize the works with archival images, a text and biographical information about the artist. We plan to continue to use this technology to augment or complement our physical exhibition program.

THE GALLERY COVERS AN ENORMOUS RANGE OF ARTISTS AND PERIODS FROM IMPRESSIONISM AND MDOERN TO CONTEMPORARY. ARE YOU FOCUSING SPECIFICALLY ON CONTEMPORARY AS DIRECTOR OF THE GALLERY?

My focus will be on Post-War and Modern American art, but I will assist my clients in acquiring from all facets of our program.

Ewan Gibbs
Chicago, 2013
Pencil and pinpricks on paper

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PLANS FOR THE FUTURE DO YOU HAVE?

I am looking forward to the post-COVID era, when we are able to ambitiously plan exhibitions and gatherings at the gallery again, as well as call on our clients in person and visit their collections! For now, FaceTime will have to do.

HOW DO YOU PLAN TO ENGAGE THE NOW GLOBAL DEMOGRAPHIC OF COLLECTORS WHO EXPERIENCE ART DIGITALLY AS MUCH AS THEY DO PHYSICALLY PARTICULARLY WITH THE NARROWING DOWN OF ART FAIRS AT LEAST AT PRESENT?

We will continue to be innovative, and ambitious, with our online presentations utilizing all the technological tools at our disposal—beautiful photography, well-produced videos, etc. We have also implemented safety and distancing protocol at all our galleries that will allow clients to come in and have an in-person viewing when they are comfortable.

Reframing Minimalism McArthur Binion and his Contemporaries in New York
Gray New York
October 22 – December 18, 2020

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST HOPES FOR YOUR ROLE AS DIRECTOR?

Gray is one of the oldest and most respected names in our business- it is a great responsibility and privilege to carry on the gallery’s legacy of excellence and expertise. I look forward to helping our clients build and maintain world-class collections, bringing great works to market and organizing exhibitions of beauty and lasting importance.

LAURA, THIS HAS BEEN A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE, GETTING TO KNOW YOU AND GRAY GALLERY BETTER. THE LRFA BLOG LOOKS FORWARD TO ALL OF YOUR FUTURE PROGRESS AND SUCCESS AS DIRECTOR OF RICHARD GRAY. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO CONTRIBUTE.

 

A view of the post-pandemic art world with Laura Lester, Director of Richard Gray Gallery

Rashid Johnson
Seeing in the Dark
Frieze Masters: Gray Gallery

In the current UBS Global Art Market Report, the effect of the pandemic on the art world has been thoroughly investigated by the brilliant art economist, Clare McAndrew:

Signs that the pandemic will have long-lasting consequences could be here, according to the report, which said that the rise of the digital market during the crisis may lead to the slowing of brick-and-mortar retail and a further investment in e-commerce.The survey used data from 795 galleries and analyzed the collecting habits of 360 high-net-worth individuals across the U.S, the U.K., Europe, and Asia. According to the report, galleries reported sales have fallen by 36 percent in the first half of 2020, compared to the equivalent period in 2019, though the report does not provide an estimated total. According to their annual report published in February, sales in dealer sector were estimated to have reached $36.8 billion in 2019.

Gray Gallery, Chicago
Rashid Johnson
Seeing In the Dark
Current exhibition

The gallery sector has been hit hard by the contraction in sales volume, leading to staff furloughs and layoffs at enterprises of all sizes. Of the dealers surveyed, one third reported staff downsizing. Smaller galleries with annual turnover between $250,000 and $500,000 saw the largest share of staff cuts, with roughly 38 percent reporting that they had shrunk their workforces.

In general, the pandemic has forced new habits for dealers and collectors alike. New buyers continue to be a priority for dealers, accounting for 26 percent of those online sales overall and 35 percent for smaller galleries with an annual turnover of less than $250,000. Art fairs around the world have been canceled and postponed, meaning that dealers have also had fewer opportunities to sell their art there. Sales volume through this channel fell from 46 percent in the first half of 2019 to just 16 percent in 2020. Yet the report found that, without the cost of showing at fairs, galleries were able to mitigate the loss in sales money. Dealers add they were now most focused on online sales, reducing costs, and maintaining existing client relationships for the remaining of 2020. 

September 9, 2020, Artnews.com

Richard Gray Gallery
New York City

 

TODAY THE LRFA BLOG IS DELIGHTED TO WELCOME BACK LAURA LESTER, DIRECTOR OF THE ILLUSTRIOUS RICHARD GRAY GALLERY,  CHICAGO/NEW YORK GALLERY. LAURA’S PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE IN THE ART WORLD SPANS BOTH FIRST-TIER AUCTION HOUSE AND GALLERY EXPERIENCE.

IN TODAY’S POST, SHE WILL SHARE HER OWN ASTUTE OBSERVATIONS ON THE EFFECTS OF THE PANDEMIC CRISIS ON THE ART MARKET.

https://www.richardgraygallery.com/

LAURA, WELCOME BACK!

WHEN YOU WERE AT KASMIN GALLERY, WERE YOU INVOLVED IN LOOKING AT ARTISTS TO JOIN THE GALLERY ROSTER. WHAT IS THE SELECTION PROCESS AT THE GALLERY?

The artist selection process at Kasmin was very democratic. We met as a team often and would raise our various ideas and discuss if they could make sense in the gallery’s program. If an artist seemed like they could be a potential fit we’d go on studio visits, bring a few of their works to fairs, etc. to explore the match further. I focused almost exclusively on estates at Kasmin and was involved in bringing one very special estate to the gallery’s roster- the American modern legend Stuart Davis, who is still thriving there. 

Gray Warehouse
Wheeler Kearns Architects
Chicago

WHAT WAS THE CURATORIAL PROCESS? KASMIN CERTAINLY HAS AN EXTENSIVE ROSTER OF STRONG MASTER AND CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS AND ARTISTS’ ESTATES, AND ALSO ORGANIZES THEMATIC EXHIBITIONS OF NOTE. 

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHTS THAT MEANT THE MOST TO YOU?

With three spaces to program on 6 to 8-week rotations, each director is responsible for organizing a few shows a year—so, we are constantly pitching to each other, looking for projects with rigor and resonance that we also felt could be financially successful for the gallery. Paul—and Nick Olney, who manages the gallery now—encouraged risk taking and were forgiving of occasional failure. That positive and supportive culture gets the best creative “juice” out of all of us! 

Alex Katz
Richard Gray Gallery
Gray Warehouse, Chicago

DUE TO THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, THERE HAS BEEN A RATHER ABRUPT SHIFT FROM THE TRADITIONAL BRICKS AND MORTAR VIEWING OF EXHIBITIONS AT GALLERIES AND AT ART FAIRS TO THE VIRTUAL WORLD.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE POST-PANDEMIC ART MARKET?

I think the consensus amongst gallerists and art professionals generally is that technology has been under-utilized in the art world, and the pandemic is going to force many to get up to speed and develop what’s needed to make e-commerce as efficient and helpful as it can be for our business. That being said, we are all desperately craving the physical experience of being with art and the exchange of ideas that gallery spaces, fairs, and openings facilitate. Their invaluable and irreplaceable nature have really been cemented.

DO YOU THINK THE SHIFT TO VIRTUAL WILL BE SUSTAINED IN THE “NEW” NORMAL?

I hope that our business will become more comfortable with technology overall, and that certain platforms that have become important during the COVID crisis, such as online exhibitions & ecommerce at a certain price point, will become a lasting and successful component of business as usual.

LRFA BLOG: SO DO I!

Gray Warehou

Gray Warehouse, Chicago

 

HOW DEEPLY AND FOR HOW LONG DO YOU ANTICIPATE THE ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF COVID-19 WILL AFFECT THE ART MARKET?  DO YOU SEE A SHIFT IN THE TYPE OF BUYING THAT IS TAKING PLACE AND IN WHAT WAY?

For the first several weeks after the quarantine began, nearly everyone’s priorities were elsewhere- including mine! Once we all began to navigate how to live in this incredibly new and cautious world, sources of pleasure and culture became desirable once again. The collectors who are continuing to buy art, of which there are many, are looking for only the very best examples and at very correct prices. I’ve seen a surge of interest in my area of expertise, Post-War and Modern, because of the established stability of that market.

THANK YOU, LAURA, FOR YOUR INSIGHTS INTO THE CURRENT ART MARKET, PERHAPS A SHIFT TOWARDS A MORE CONSERVATIVE COLLECTING ATTITUDE THAT HAD STARTED TO EMERGE EVEN PRIOR TO THE PANDEMIC CRISIS.

NEXT WEEK, THE LRFA BLOG LOOKS FORWARD TO LAURA LESTER, DIRECTOR OF RICHARD GRAY GALLERY, NEW YORK, JOINING US TO EXPLORE THE CURRENT AND FUTURE PLANS OF THE GALLERY. BE IT IN A VIRTUAL, PHYSICAL, VIEWING ROOMS, OR DIGITAL FORMAT, GRAY UPHOLDS ITS REPUTATION FOR QUALITY AND INTEGRITY.

PLEASE JOIN US AND THANK YOU FOR FOLLOWING THE LRFA BLOG!

Gray gallery director, Laura Lester: her perspective on working in both the auction and gallery worlds

Richard Gray Gallery  Director Laura Lester

IN 2014, Christie’s hired more than 115 people in the Americas and that number has been surpassed since the year of the survey. “It’s a reflection of the growth of the art market overall and increased participation from new and young collectors who have a passion for everything from fine art to design, jewels, watches and wine”, according to the company.  Offering a variety of experiences, auction houses are one of the top employers for those hooked on art. These are sought-after jobs. Jessica Phillips, human resource and systems administrator at Sotheby’s, said, “We look for candidates who are passionate about the arts. Everyone goes through a rigorous process in his or her knowledge of the art world. We look for applicants who realize the scope [of working in an auction house], who are interested in seeing the art they’ve once studied.” According to Kathleen Doyle, chairman and CEO of Doyle New York, “talented, smart and energetic candidates for employment are drawn to working in the art field because of their passion.”

Jane Freilicher
Whitney Museum of American Art

Trish Walsh, marketing and communications manager at Phillips told us, “People who join us with an interest in being specialists have a strong interest in art as a business, have studied art history and have interned at auction houses and galleries. So they have a good understanding of the business and a strong interest in having a career in an auction house.”

The Observer, Marissa Mule, 02/23/15

CERTAINLY, LAURA LESTER, RECENTLY APPOINTED DIRECTOR OF THE PRESTIGIOUS RICHARD GRAY GALLERY CHICAGO/NEW YORK, MEETS ALL THE REQUISITES NECESSARY TO WORK IN AN AUCTION HOUSE. APART FROM A LOVE OF ART, SHE HAS GREAT PERSONAL STYLE, AN ARTICULATE AND INTELLIGENT PERSONALITY AND A DEDICATION TO HARD WORK AND BEING AVAILABLE 24/7. ALL GREAT ASSETS IN ANY FIELD BUT CRUCIAL, IN THE OPINION OF THE LRFA BLOG, TO WORKING IN THE ART WORLD.

https://www.richardgraygallery.com/

Lee Krasner
Another Storm, 1963
Estate represented by Kasmin Gallery

TODAY, THE LRFA BLOG IS DELIGHTED TO CONTINUE ITS CONVERSATION WITH LAURA AND FOLLOW HER PROFESSIONAL STEPS IN THE ART WORLD GAINING A VAST VARIETY OF SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE BY WORKING AT FIRST-TIER GALLERIES AND CHRISTIE’S AUCTION HOUSE.

LAURA, HOW LONG WERE YOU AT CHRISTIE’S, IN WHAT DEPARTMENT AND WHAT WERE YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES? 

I was at Christie’s for over three years, all in the Post-War and Contemporary Department. I was hired as an object cataloguer and in that capacity, I worked on nearly every sale in the department, from private sales and day sales to their marquee evening sale. When I departed Christie’s, I was a specialist focused mainly on business getting. 

WHAT DID YOU LIKE THE MOST ABOUT AUCTION? IN WHAT WAYS WAS THE EXPERIENCE SIMILAR TO YOUR GALLERY EXPERIENCE AND IN WHAT WAYS DID IT DIFFER?

Auction is very cyclical, and laser focused on one major event each “season”, the sales. Much of the hard work in the months leading up to the auctions is solitary and intense. We spent hours in their warehouse examining objects for cataloging, proofing pages for print or writing essays. It is satisfying and celebratory to see your hard work come to fruition in a beautiful, public way when the view is hung, and a successful auction transpires.

Gallery work is more varied—you’re often working on multiple future exhibitions of different scale as well as managing artist’s needs and planning for fairs and other projects. 

Lee Krasner
The Umber Paintings
Kasmin Gallery

WHEN YOU DECIDED TO RETURN TO THE GALLERY WORLD, WHAT APPEALED TO YOU THE MOST ABOUT KASMIN GALLERY?

I have always admired Paul Kasmin’s program. His taste was highly original, and he had made a habit of scouting history for overlooked artists long before that was fashionable. I had become increasingly focused on Post-War American art while at Christie’s; when the director position opened at Kasmin, they had just signed Lee Krasner’s estate which was a very appealing opportunity.

Painters of the East End
Kasmin Gallery

WHAT ARTISTS DID YOU EXHIBIT AND WHICH EXHIBITIONS RESONATED THE STRONGEST WITH YOU?

I worked on Kasmin’s estates program and had the opportunity to organize a number of really special exhibitions for the gallery. I put together two Krasner shows with a great colleague, Eric Gleason. The first focused on her umber paintings, the second was an exhibition of mural studies she created while working for the WPA. Last summer, I coordinated a show we titled Painters of the East End, which was all artists working on Long Island in the 50s, 60s, 70s that happened to be women. I included household names from the period such as Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler alongside other really talented, lesser known artists such as Nell Blaine, Jane Freilicher, Mary Abbott, Perle Fine and Jane Wilson. My last project at Kasmin was a curatorial collaboration between myself and two independent LA based curators, Sonny Ruscha Granade and Harmony Murphy, exploring the aesthetic legacy of European surrealism in Southern California. We titled it Valley of Gold. I’m really disappointed this show was only on public view for a week due to COVID closures- it was one of my favorites! 

Valley of Gold: Southern California and the Phantasmagoric
Kasmin Gallery

MORE ABOUT LAURA’S EXPERIENCE AT KASMIN GALLERY IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG POST.. PLEASE JOIN US!

 

An introduction to the legendary Gray Gallery, with gallery director, Laura Lester

 

Laura Lester
Director
Gray Gallery, NY

GRAY GALLERY, FOUNDED IN CHICAGO BY RICHARD GRAY, AND HEADED BY HIS SON, PAUL, THE GALLERY IS MADE UP OF A GLOBALLY RECOGNIZED TEAM OF ART PROFESSIONALS. ALL ARE DEVOTED TO FOSTERING THE DEVELOPMENT OF HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT ARTIST CAREERS AND TO BUILDING OUTSTANDING ART COLLECTIONS FOR THEIR CLIENTS. THEIR FOCUS CONTINUES TO BE ON DEEP AND INSIGHTFUL RELATIONSHIPS WITH BOTH ARTISTS AND COLLECTORS.

FOUNDER MORE THAN FIFTY YEARS AGO, THE GALLERY’S REPUTATION FOR QUALITY AND INTEGRITY HAS SPANNED TWO GENERATIONS, INSPIRED BY THE CREATIVITY OF ARTISTS, THE PASSION OF COLLECTORS AND BY THE TRUST PLACED IN THEM BY BOTH.

Richard Gray
Founder, Richard Gray Gallery

WHEN ITS FOUNDER RICHARD GRAY DIED IN 2018, THIS IS JUST ONE OF TRIBUTES

Richard Gray was a legend in the art world, establishing galleries in Chicago and New York. He received well-deserved international recognition in the art world and was a dedicated patron to Chicago’s cultural institutions. His son, Paul, has carried on his legacy.

Juane Plensa
Richard Gray Gallery

“Richard was a beacon in the art world,” said Jaume Plensa, whose Crown Fountain sits in Millennium Park. “We are orphans without him.”

“Richard Gray was my dealer for 40 years. His humanity and appreciation for the human condition was immense,” Jim Dine said in a statement Thursday. “His deep love of drawing suited my obsession for the medium to a tee. To me he was a great dealer and a great guy.”

Jim Dine
Richard Gray Gallery

CHICAGO TRIBUNE, KT Hawbacker, May 17, 2018

IT IS A PLEASURE AND A PRIVILEGE TO WELCOME THEIR RECENTLY APPOINTED DIRECTOR, LAURA LESTER, TO THE LRFA BLOG. A VETERAN BOTH OF THE FIRST-TIER AUCTION AND GALLERY WORLD, SHE BRINGS HER UNIQUE FOCUS, KNOWLEDGE AND ENERGY TO BEAR AT GRAY GALLERY, NEW YORK.

https://www.richardgraygallery.com/

LAURA, WHERE DID YOU GROW UP AND WERE YOU ALWAYS INTERESTED IN ART?

I was raised in Wilmette, IL, which is just north of downtown Chicago on Lake Michigan. I grew up visiting the city’s great museums with my parents and have always been interested in the history of art but did not take it seriously as a career path until college.

WHERE DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL AND WHAT ACADEMIC PURSUITS DID YOU PURSUE BEFORE FOCUSING ON A CAREER IN THE ART WORLD.

I earned a dual undergraduate degree in English Literature and Art History at Indiana University. I attended IU, initially, because I was interested in music; I was a serious pianist growing up and they have a fantastic music school. After matriculating at such a large university, I quickly realized how big the world is and began exploring its many offerings- that’s when I really fell in love with art history. After college I moved to New York City to get a master’s degree in modern and contemporary art from Christie’s, which positioned me well to enter the commercial art world.

Christie’s Education
Master’s Program, New York

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB AND HOW DO YOU FEEL THAT EXPERIENCE SERVED YOU IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL PATH?

My first job was a receptionist position at Gagosian uptown. It was a real crash course in who the players are in the industry! I moved from that position to assisting Larry directly and traveling with him, which was an incredible education. He taught me a standard of fastidiousness in all things that has stuck with me to this day.

THAT IS A PHENOMENAL INTRODUCTION! WHAT PROMPTED YOUR DECISION TO LEAVE GAGOSIAN AND ENTER THE AUCTION WORLD?

After nearly four years of really interesting assistant work at Gagosian, I felt I had learned a lot about the ecosystem of collectors, client service and deal making but was lacking object connoisseurship. I knew a cataloging position at an auction house would teach me that inside and out.

McArthur Binion
DNA: Work and the Under: Conscious Drawing
Gray Warehouse, Chicago
Current exhibition

IT IS NO SURPRISE THAT WITH THE  CAREFULLY PLOTTED ACADEMIC AND PROFESSIONAL STEPS  LAURA HAS TAKEN, SHE IS NOW THE DIRECTOR OF GRAY GALLERY.

IN OUR NEXT POST, THE LRFA BLOG LOOKS FORWARD TO LAURA’S INSIGHTS INTO BOTH THE GALLERY AND AUCTION HOUSE WORLDS, THEIR SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES.

PLEASE JOIN US!

The future is now: traditions and innovations at David Zwirner with gallery partner Greg Lulay and director Veronique Ansorge

 

Isa Genzken
Paris New York
Opening at David Zwirner, Paris

OVER THE LAST DECADE, DAVID ZWIRNER HAS UNDERGONE AN UNPRECEDENTED TRANSFORMATION AND STANDS AS A MAJOR DRIVING FORCE IN REDEFINING WHAT A GALLERY PRESENTS AND HOW AUDIENCES INTERACT WITH THE ART AND EXHIBITIONS. A NEW BREED OF EXPANSIVE AND TRANSPORTING SHOWS OFFERS UNIQUE EXPERIENCES TO A WIDER , CULTURALLY ENGAGED PUBLIC WHILE ALWAYS SUPPORTING AND HONORING THEIR ARTISTS’ AMBITIOUS VISIONS.

THE LOCKDOWN AND PANDEMIC CRISIS ONLY SERVED TO FURTHER STIMULATE THEIR EFFORTS TO SUPPORT THEIR ARTISTS, THEIR GALLERIES AND OTHER SMALLER STRUGGLING GALLERIES  REACHING OUT IN NEW AND INNOVATIVE WAYS TO THEIR INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC.

William Eggleston
David Zwirner Hong Kong
Opening September 10

TODAY, THE LRFA BLOG WARMLY WELCOME BACK VERONIQUE ANSORGE, GALLERY DIRECTOR AND GREG LULAY, GALLERY PARTNER, TO SHARE THEIR ARTICULATE VISION OF DAVID ZWIRNER NOW AND IN THE FUTURE.

GREG AND VERONIQUE, ART FAIRS HAVE BECOME A DOMINANT VEHICLE TO SHOW ARTISTS. WHEN THE PANDEMIC HIT, HONG KONG ART BASEL WAS THE FIRST FAIR TO CREATE EXCLUSIVELY VIEWING ROOMS FOR ALL THE EXHIBITORS AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO BEING AT THE FAIR.

HOW DID THE GALLERIES IN GENERAL DO AND HOW SUCCESSFUL WERE THE MAJOR INTERNATIONAL GALLERIES?

GL: I think that the dominant form of physically seeing work still happens within the galleries and museums themselves. After that, comes the art fair setting.  

Since the 1970s, with the birth of Art Cologne, and on to the long-standing fairs like Art Basel, we’ve seen the landscape of art commerce change dramatically. The art world and the art fair sector of that art world has grown tremendously into a global industry. Regional art fairs are now held across the globe and are typically intended to serve the collector base of the specific country or region where they take place. Other art fairs have a much wider reach in terms of exhibiting galleries and the international patrons that visit and buy from the fair. The difference between the two types of fairs has to do with the brand behind the fairs, the destination, the time in the yearly calendar, and the longevity of the fair as an institution. As the art fair model of business took off, galleries became more reliant upon them for a large part of their annual business. In one week and in one spot you are able to interact with large numbers of new and existing clients, connect with curators, and make significant sales. Over the years we’ve found that all of that activity for each fair is precluded by digital outreach to our clients. So, there’s been a growing online component of what we do at a fair which occurs digitally even before we set foot in our booth. 

Suzan Frecon
Opening David Zwirner Gallery
September 10 – October 17, 2020

I think one of the big questions is, will the digital art fair exchange begin to replace the need for an actual art fair? 

When Art Basel Hong Kong was cancelled earlier this year due to Covid-19, all galleries had to turn solely to online presentations and interactions supported by Basel’s new online platform. Because our gallery already had developed the technology to support an online viewing room experience, we were able to do something in tandem with Art Basel’s platform. We were able to reach people who were interested in looking at art even if they couldn’t go to the fair, let alone leave their homes.

VA: I’m very happy that it was a success for the gallery. We will all have to see what is happening now based on the health crisis in the long run for the art fairs. But you do miss the interactions with clients in an art fair context, and human interaction will certainly not be able to be replaced completely.

GL: Certainly not. I think that a key component of this industry is that it is experiential and social. People who are interested in building collections and living with art love the personal connections they make with artists, curators, and art dealers. There is a social aspect of gallery openings and art fairs that will never be replaced by a purely online experience. What we have built online is something to run in tandem with what we are already doing in our physical spaces. 

Harold Ancart: Traveling Light
David Zwirner Gallery West 19th Street
Opening September 10th

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE OTHER WAYS IN WHICH YOU ARE NOW COMMUNICATING WITH CLIENTS AND ARTISTS IN LIGHT OF THE CURRENT CRISIS?

GL: I think in a time when people are forced to be at home, we all still have a need to be connected. Even this conversation that we are having now is being done virtually, where we can see each other on the screen and have a conversation. This is something we are doing on a daily basis with our artists, many of which are busy in their studios, but they need a connection and want a connection just like the rest of us.

VA: And obviously all these video conferencing apps that allow you to have meetings and interact with multiple people are very helpful both in terms of internal meetings and meetings with artists. I do feel a lot of clients also appreciate calls and ways of communicating where we see each other.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS TO DEVELOP YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE IN THE FUTURE?

GL: While we discussed this earlier,  I think it’s worth noting that while we have focused on this initiative for the past several years, we are only just beginning and will continue to explore what this new online platform can offer to our artists.

VA: Yes and also making it usable in a way where artists can really have control over the experience the visitor has on the site; the artist can put their artistic vision in it. 

Josh Smith
David Zwirner, New York East 69th, London, Grafton Street
Opening September 15th

DO YOU AGREE THAT THIS IS MORE AND MORE THE FUTURE OF THE GALLERY WORLD, AND THAT THE COVID-19 WAS MORE OF A CATALYST TO AN ALREADY ESTABLISHED TREND?

VA: Yes, Covid-19 is somewhat of a catalyst. As the other options are temporarily inactivated it is forcing us to accelerate our performance in the digital space. 

GL: Exactly, I think that this is obviously the way in which the world is moving, and people are becoming more and more accustomed to receiving content of all sorts online. Like we’ve said, these changes are not going to replace the essential in-person exchange or experience. But certainly in this moment when none of us can physically be with each other or walk into a gallery space, the necessity to charge ahead in some fashion has been a catalyst for this digital exchange on a larger scale. 

GL: It’s worth saying that the gallery in its 25+ years has weathered several storms, including the attacks on September 11th and Hurricane Sandy. This is a new experience for all of us, and a challenge we will overcome together, hopefully stronger as a gallery and as a world. During this uncertain time we have come together as a gallery to help those who may be struggling even more than we are. We’ve been able to share our existing technology and Online Viewing Room with galleries in New York and London who don’t have the same capabilities to present and sell artworks online. With an initiative called Platform: New York, and Platform: London, respectively, we’ve invited a group of young gallerists from those cities to select one artist from their program to feature on our online viewing room platform. We’re hosting our friends and neighboring galleries in an effort to connect them with collectors who are interested in buying art during this very challenging moment.

Platform
David Zwirner Gallery

IT HAS BEEN A GREAT PRIVILEGE TO HAVE GREG AND VERONIQUE SHARE THEIR THOUGHTFUL AND DEEPLY KNOWLEDGEABLE PERSPECTIVE ON THE DAVID ZWIRNER GALLERY PLATFORM, PHILOSOPHY AND ARTIST-CENTRIC POINT OF VIEW AND THEIR VISION OF OUR ART WORLD IN GENERAL NOW AND IN THE FUTURE.  SO MANY THANKS TO YOU BOTH!

THE LRFA BLOG WILL RESUME AFTER LABOR DAY. WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO A CONVERSATION WITH LAURA LESTER  AND LEARNING ABOUT HER NEW POSITION AS DIRECTOR OF GREY GALLERY, NEW YORK.

A cultural experience in a multitude of forms : bricks and mortar, online, podcasts, publishing, with David Zwirner’s director Veronique Ansorge and partner Greg Lulay

Kerry James Marshall
Online exhibit
David Zwirner Gallery

On March 16, 2020, as the world closed its doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, Robin Pogrebin, a reporter on the Culture Desk of the New York Times, reported the following on the effect to the art world.

In 2017, having realized how much business the gallery did through online previews before art fairs, the dealer David Zwirner decided to develop virtual viewing rooms.

Now, as art fairs are canceled, museums close and auction houses consider whether to call off their spring sales in response to the coronavirus, Mr. Zwirner seems prescient.

This week Art Basel will, for the first time, offer online viewing rooms to replace the Hong Kong fair that was canceled this month because of the pandemic. More than 230 dealers who planned to bring work to Asia will instead offer some 2,000 pieces through the virtual fair with an estimated value of $270 million, including 70 items over $1 million. And galleries throughout the United States are considering web-based works and curated online exhibitions.

The future has “arrived so much sooner,” Mr. Zwirner said. “If galleries are closed, how can we sell art? The online platform is something we have envisioned as an important part of what we do.”

http://Art Galleries Respond to Virus Outbreak With Online Viewing Rooms

March 16, 2020, New York Times, Art & Design

“Neo Rauch: Blätterrausch,” 2019.
Credit David Zwirner

DAVID ZWIRNER GALLERY, AND A PRESCIENT GROUP OF GALLERIES WITH INSIGHT AND FINANCIAL WHEREWITHAL, HAD BEEN WORKING ON CREATING SOPHISTICATED ALTERNATIVES TO VISITS TO GALLERY EXHIBITIONS AND ART FAIRS FOR SEVERAL YEARS. COVID-19 WAS SIMPLY A CATALYST INTENSIFYING THE SPEED WITH WHICH BUSINESSES OF EVERY TYPE, BE THEY ESSENTIAL, FINANCIAL, RETAIL, NON-PROFIT OR CULTURAL HAD TO EMBRACE NEW WAYS OF COMMUNICATING. IT IS THE VIEW OF LRFA BLOG THAT EVEN AFTER THE WORLD RETURNS TO A NEW NORMAL, THESE DEVELOPMENTS ARE VERY MUCH  HERE TO STAY.

TODAY, THE LRFA BLOG IS DELIGHTED TO HAVE THE DAVID ZWIRNER GALLERY TEAM OF VERONIQUE ANSORGE AND GREG LULAY SHARE THEIR HIGHLY INTELLIGENT AND THOUGHTFUL PERSPECTIVE ON THE MULTIPLICITY OF WAYS IN WHICH DAVID ZWIRNER GALLERY ATTRACTS, RETAINS AND GROWS ITS CULTURAL AUDIENCE.

At Sea
Online exhibition
David Zwirner Gallery

WHEN DID THE GALLERY BEGIN TO DEVELOP ITS ONLINE PRESENCE? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE VERY FIRST EFFORTS AND WHAT WAS THE RESPONSE?

GL: Well, it’s interesting to go back to not so many years ago. The way images are disseminated has changed dramatically and that’s true for many industries. I remember labeling transparencies. We used to take photographs of artworks and then take that film, send it out and have transparencies duplicated from negatives. We used to mail offer packages by FedEx, which is just insane to think about now. But as time changed, so did technology and the way in which we – as a world – are used to disseminating, receiving, and digesting those images. We found quite quickly that clients and audiences became more accustomed to looking at art and making decisions on a screen. While there is no replacement for physical interaction with an artwork, many more people around the world are experiencing art on the digital platform. With this, in 2017, the gallery began to put more emphasis on our website –  we realized that there could be a different way for audiences to connect with us online.

We want to bring the work of our artists to a larger audience around the world, and that’s really what the intent is here.

Studio: Raymond Pettibon
Online at David Zwirner

DID YOU FIND THAT THE CLIENT BASE DIFFERED FROM THAT OF THE “BRICK AND MORTAR” CLIENTS AND, IF SO, IN WHAT WAY?

VA: I think that a very important component of developing our online efforts has also been developing the backend – we really have a strong team that works on data mining and understanding how clients move online. There is an audience that is much more in tune with the internet and navigating websites, younger people tend to be more confident navigating online.

GL: Yes, and Leslie, I think that your question whether we see a difference between clients who are finding us or looking at our content online versus those who are coming in to our brick-and-mortar galleries is an interesting one, but I think the larger question is really about the overall audience that now makes up this current art world. It’s changed, it’s grown, it’s international, and it’s well educated. People are looking at work from galleries from all over the world at the same time and in various ways. One of the unique services that a gallery provides is an experience that is completely free. Providing that access and that freedom in a larger way online is quite interesting for us. There are many people who are used to seeing art in a brick-and-mortar space. It’s what they prefer, and that probably won’t change for them, but a large number of people in this world have become accustomed to looking at things, reading news, receiving information, exchanging personal information through various online and social channels and that is what we are trying to embrace here. Often we find this online audience to be younger because generations have grown up in this new norm, but I think that on a whole, most people are now used to at least having an initial discussion online even if it is followed up with a phone call and visit to the gallery.  That’s how we communicate.

Dialogues
Podcast
David Zwirner Gallery

WHEN DID THE GALLERY LAUNCH THE GALLERY PODCAST, DIALOGUES, IN WHICH EACH PODCAST EPISODE PAIRS TWO CREATIVE PEOPLE, USUALLY A WRITER, OR CURATOR AND A VISUAL ARTIST? WHO DECIDES ON THE CONTENT?  WHAT HAS THE RESPONSE TO THE PODCAST BEEN AND IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU PLAN TO EXPAND IT?

GL: One of the many things the gallery provides is a very strong cultural experience, and that can take many forms. We have a Content Team that is developing various types of cultural experiences online so that you can, for example, virtually walk through an exhibition or see one of our artists in their studio. Lucas Zwirner came up with the idea of our podcast and then developed it with his team, and it has been famously received.

VA: This was started in the summer of 2018. Now we are in our third season, and it’s been really successful. I hear from people all across the world that they enjoy the content. We do try to create content that directly speaks to what’s physically going on in our spaces around the world. For example, we recently launched a podcast with Doug Wheeler and Vija Celmins parallel to Doug’s exhibition at the gallery.

GL: There’s such a rich exchange of material that we are hoping to bring to our audiences, which ultimately is to further the careers and understanding of the artworks that our artists are making. The podcast is an incredible addition to what we as a gallery have been doing for years.

Oscar Murillo
Etica y Estetica
Online exhibition
David Zwirner Gallery

ONE OF THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAYS TO REACH A GLOBAL AUDIENCE IS THROUGH ART FAIRS. GALLERIES ARE EXHIBITING EXAMPLES OF WORKS THAT THE GALLERY REPRESENTS TO PROVIDE VISITORS TO THE FAIR WITH A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF THEIR WORK AND OF THE AESTHETIC PLATFORM OF THE GALLERY ITSELF. WHETHER ONLINE DUE TO THE SHUTDOWN DURING THE PANDEMIC CRISIS OR IN PERSON, AT ART BASEL SWITZERLAND, MIAMI ART BASEL, BASEL HONG KONG, FRIEZE LONDON AND NEW YORK, TEFAF OR SAN FRANCISCO’S FOG: DESIGN AND ART, THE MISSION IS THE SAME: TO INCREASE THE GALLERY’S PRESENCE WORLDWIDE.

NEXT WEEK WE WILL EXPLORE THIS IN DEPTH. THANK YOU FOR FOLLOWING THE LRFA BLOG!

The artist-centric philosophy at the David Zwirner Gallery with Veronique Ansorge and Greg Lulay

Dan Flavin
Interior view of the entrance at 537 West 20th Street, New York,
Photo: Jason Schmidt

IN 1993, WHEN DAVID ZWIRNER OPENED HIS FIRST GALLERY, A 1600 SQUARE FOOT SPACE ON GREENE STREET IN SOHO, HE LAUNCHED WITH RADICAL EXPERIMENTAL SHOWS BY THEN EMERGING ARTISTS SUCH AS STAN DOUGLAS, JASON RHOADES, AND DIANA THATER, ALL OF WHOM HAD SOLO EXHIBITIONS AT THE GALLERY IN ITS INAUGURAL YEAR, AND ARE STILL PART OF THE GALLERY ROSTER TODAY.

Randy Kennedy, March 21, 2013, New York Times Magazine

https://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/21/t-magazine/david-zwirner-the-art-of-the-dealer.html

“ZWIRNER’S PROGRAM WAS FAIRLY RADICAL AND RIGOROUS, WITH A ROSTER OF UNDER-RECOGNIZED EXPERIMENTAL ARTISTS…HIS GALLERY WAS A LEAN OPERATION, WITH AN EMPHASIS ON WORK FROM EUROPE AND THE WEST COAST.”

The New Yorker 

TEN YEARS LATER, THE GALLERY MOVED FROM SOHO TO CHELSEA. A DECADE LATER, DAVID ZWIRNER HAS EXPANDED ITS FOOTPRINT TO INCLUDE A SPACE ON THE UPPER EAST SIDE OF MANHATTAN, A SPECTACULAR TOWNHOUSE DESIGNED BY ANNABELLE SELLDORF IN THE MAYFAIR DISTRICT IN LONDON, A GALLERY PRESENCE IN HONG KONG IN A VISIONARY BUILDING ON QUEEN’S ROAD , AND MOST RECENTLY, AN IMPECCABLE VENUE ON RUE VIEILLE DU TEMPLE IN PARIS.

WHAT REMAINS THE SAME IS THE ETHOS AND SPIRIT OF COMMITMENT TO THE ARTISTS AND TO THEIR ART. THAT GUIDING PRINCIPLE IS SHARED BY THE DIRECTORS AND PARTNERS OF THE GALLERY AND MANY OF THE FOUNDING TEAM HAVE CONTINUED WITH THE GALLERY TO THIS DAY.

John McCracken
Installation view 1997
David Zwirner Gallery, SoHo

THE LRFA BLOG IS PRIVILEGED TO CONTINUE ITS CONVERSATION WITH THE HIGHLY INTELLIGENT AND ARTICULATE VERONIQUE ANSORGE, A DIRECTOR BASED AT 19th STREET IN CHELSEA, AND DEEPLY KNOWLEDGEABLE GREG LULAY, A PARTNER OF THE GALLERY, BASED AT THEIR 20TH LOCATION.

DOES DAVID ZWIRNER HIMSELF DECIDE ON THE ARTISTS THAT THE GALLERY ADDS ON OR DO EACH OF THE DIRECTORS HAVE INPUT ON THE AESTHETIC PROFILE OF THE GALLERY?

GL: Every single Director and Partner works in conversation with David about the stable of artists we represent. This is something we are constantly looking to build upon. Ultimately, it’s David’s name on the door, but he looks to us for our insight and opinions.

VA: Yes and I feel it’s important to know that it’s very much encouraged that we share what we see out there, what we like, and discuss it with the team. We can always bring ideas to the table. 

WHAT ARE SOME OF QUALITIES THAT YOU WOULD SAY CHARACTERIZE ALL OF THE ARTISTS THE GALLERY REPRESENTS, WHETHER THEIR PLATFORM IS PAINTING, SCULPTURE, VIDEO.

VA: We consider them to be incredible talents!

GL: Yes, and one of the key cornerstones of the gallery and a key philosophy of David’s is that our artists always come first. This has been and will continue to be a guiding principle for the gallery.

VA: I think it’s interesting to look at the development of our roster over time. There are these connections between many of our artists, so much so that it seems almost like an organic process where the artists themselves influenced which other artists might join our roster.

The Estate of Anni Albers David Zwirner Gallery

GL: If you look at the gallery’s program that has continued to build since the early 1990s, there are some specific focuses within the program. There is a strength in historical Conceptual and Minimalist artists who worked within that language and became leaders of that voice, but there’s also a very strong group of figurative and abstract painters, an incredible group of photographers, sculptors and filmmakers. One of the things that I think has been true since the very beginning is that each of these artists has a singular and radical voice. Their work is challenging. They challenge audiences to rethink the way they are looking. 

Estate of Josef Albers
David Zwirner Gallery

VA: I think it is interesting to point out, as an example, a natural connection within our program. Let’s look at Josef and Anni Albers. After taking them on we then added Ruth Asawa, a dear friend and also a student of Josef Albers, and then we also started showing Paul Klee, who was also an artist and teacher at the Bauhaus. So adding artists that obviously are standalone very strong voices, they also allow us to capture a certain moment in time and understand how they influence one another and certain art historical movements. This is also certainly the case for American Minimalism. I feel some of these networks are certainly an interesting part of the program, but as Greg said, I feel that all of them are very strong, unique voices that pushed whatever medium they have their focus  in a very specific and strong way.

Ruth Asawa
Installation view at David Zwirner Gallery

GL: Of course, and I think part of the strength of these individual artists and the place they have now in art history has to do also with the connections between them, but also how radical their work is. I mean, can you imagine walking into a gallery in the early 1960s and seeing a bunch of fluorescent lamps in various colors bolted to a wall? Think about how radical that was – that concept entering into the white cube of a gallery. Dan Flavin, completely radical in his thinking, was not alone in that thinking. You can compare him to someone like Richard Serra or Ad Reinhardt, or some younger artists that came after them – think about how radical Jason Rhoades’ work was.

Marlene Dumas
Installation view, 2018
David Zwirner Gallery, NY

Or a painter like Marlene Dumas, or Luc Tuymans – their approach to painting was radical and it changed the entire landscape of European painting. Whether there were specific historical connections and influences from one artist to the next, all of our artists bring a completely new process, and incredibly personal voice to the world.

Jason Rhoades
Installation View 2014
David Zwirner Gallery, NY

IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG POST, VERONIQUE AND GREG WILL SHARE THE EXTRAORDINARY TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES THAT THE GALLERY HAS MADE, CERTAINLY STARTING SEVERAL YEARS AGO BUT PROPELLED BY THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. DAVID ZWIRNER’S SHIFT TO A PREDOMINANTLY VIRTUAL, ONLINE WORLD, AND HIS SUPPORT OF SMALLER, STRUGGLING GALLERIES IS A LESSON FOR US ALL.

PLEASE JOIN US!