Leslie Rankow Fine Arts

INTERNATIONAL ART ADVISORY SERVICE

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!

Matching talents and tasks at David Zwirner with the gallery partner Greg Lulay and director Veronique Ansorge

Installation view
Mamma Andersson: The Lost Paradise
David Zwirner, NY 2020
Courtesy David Zwirner


DAVID ZWIRNER IS AN INTERNATIONAL GALLERY ARTISTS ASPIRE TO SHOW WITH,  COLLECTORS FLOCK TO FOR WORKS OF THE HIGHEST QUALITY BY BOTH ESTABLISHED CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS AND MODERN MASTERS, CURATORS DEPEND UPON AS A SOURCE FOR ARTISTS WORTHY OF ACQUIRING FOR THEIR MUSEUMS AND ART CAREER PROFESSIONALS VIE TO WORK AT SUCH A PRESTIGIOUS VENUE. THE GALLERY HAS ALWAYS BEEN ALWAYS ARTIST-CENTRIC AND OVER THE COURSE OF ITS TWENTY-SEVEN YEAR HISTORY, ITS PROGRAM  HAS DEVELOPED AND MATURED GLOBALLY, ESTABLISHING LOCATIONS IN SEVERAL DIFFERENT COUNTRIES AND CITIES AND A PRESENCE WORLDWIDE. DAVID ZWIRNER OFFERS ITS ARTISTS AND ARTIST ESTATES AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE A PART OF A GLOBAL NETWORK OF EXHIBITIONS, ART FAIRS, AND  BOTH INSTITUTIONAL AND PRIVATE ART COLLECTIONS.

Greg Lulay
Partner
David Zwirner Gallery

TODAY, THE LRFA BLOG IS VERY PLEASED TO CONTINUE TO POST ITS CONVERSATION, HELD IN APRIL 2020, WITH GALLERY DIRECTOR VERONIQUE ANSORGE, AT THE 19th STREET GALLERY (525 WEST 19th STREET) IN CHELSEA, AND WITH GALLERY PARTNER GREG LULAY, AT THE TWENTIETH STREET GALLERY ( 538 WEST 20th STREET).

RUNNING AN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TAKES AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF HARD WORK AND DEDICATION, NOT ONLY ON THE PART OF ITS FOUNDER BUT ALSO ON ITS EXTENSIVE STAFF, EVERYONE FROM PARTNERS TO DIRECTORS TO THE SUPPORT STAFF OF REGISTRARS, INSTALLERS, EXHIBITION CATALOGUERS, RESEARCHERS AND A  HIGHLY SOPHISTICATED TECH TEAM.

HERE WE HOPE TO SHED A LITTLE LIGHT ON SUCH AN ENORMOUS UNDERTAKING.

Interior view of library
537 West 20th Street Gallery, 2013

VERONIQUE AND GREG, WELCOME BACK AND THANK YOU BOTH!

DO YOU EACH HAVE RESPONSIBILITIES AS A LIAISON TO SPECIFIC ARTISTS AND ARTISTS’ ESTATES AND IF SO, WHO ARE THE ARTISTS THAT YOU CONCENTRATE ON IT?

Greg Lulay: The overarching gallery structure is one that was built so that it serves all of us together in all locations. There are members of our staff who are specialists in research, conservation, inventory management, finance, installation,  public relations, sales, and artist relations, like myself and Veronique. My artist management responsibilities are split between living Contemporary artists and Estates.

I work closely with Philip-Lorca diCorcia, an incredible photographer; and Lucas Arruda, a very talented young Brazilian painter. I also work with the Fred Sandback Estate, the Al Taylor Estate, the Gordon Matta-Clark Estate, and the Franz West Estate. I’m charged to help foster the careers of those artists, both within the gallery and outwardly in their exhibitions and programs around the globe. In addition to artist management I also have sales responsibilities and oversee all of our art fair participations around the world.

Philip-Lorca diCorcia
Heavenly Bodies
David Zwirner Gallery Viewing Room

Veronique Ansorge:  I think given the nature of how I started at the gallery, and given the fact that I’m from Germany, I was naturally working with David on a lot of his German clients and activities. I began working with German artists and Estates such as the Estate of Sigmar Polke, Thomas Ruff, and Isa Genzken. I also now work with the New York–based photographer James Welling, which I am very excited about. While I have cultivated client relationships across the globe, I feel my focus is within the German-speaking market.

GL: One of the strengths both of our sales team and of the larger gallery is that David has really paired our individual talents with the tasks which give the most benefit to our artists and thus to the gallery. This informs our specific duties and responsibilities.

VA: Yes, and I think it is fascinating that the gallery really allows for this talent to be expressed – to identify their strengths and nurture them.

Screen capture
David Zwirner Online
Harold Ancart: Pools

HOW DOES THE MANAGEMENT OF A LIVING ARTIST DIFFER FROM AN ESTATE?

VA: With a living artist, you are in constant dialogue and they are actively producing work. You manage exhibitions of new work, not only in the gallery but in institutional environments. Within this, you are working to cultivate their career. With an Estate, it’s not necessarily new work, but you try to do the same.

GL: Certainly there are some strong parallels between the two approaches. In both cases we operate somewhat like an agent; working collaboratively with artists or estates to promote their careers and strengthen their position within the history of art by presenting their artwork on various platforms to audiences around the world. In the early days of the gallery, David began representing our first estate – the Estate of Gordon Matta-Clark.

Then in 2004 we began working with the Fred Sandback Estate, and today we represent 26 estates. It is in collaboration with these people that you  are charged to further the conversation about their work and encourage new discovery. One of the biggest challenges we face working with a living artist is to support and guide them without interfering with their creative process. This is completely different from working with an Estate. Their voice is more active.

VERONIQUE AND GREG WILL CONTINUE TO SHARE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WORKINGS OF DAVID ZWIRNER GALLERY IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG POST!

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR FOLLOWING. PLEASE JOIN US!

 

A very warm welcome to David Zwirner Gallery’s Veronique Ansorge and Greg Lulay

David Zwirner and gallery partners by John McCracken’s FAIR (2011)
David Zwirner Gallery, West 20th St, NY

IN JANUARY 2018, DAVID ZWIRNER GALLERY CELEBRATED ITS 25TH ANNIVERSARY. WITH AN IMPECCABLE ROSTER OF LIVING ARTISTS AND ARTISTS’ ESTATES AND A GLOBAL NETWORK OF GALLERIES IN NEW YORK, LONDON, PARIS, AND HONG KONG, DAVID ZWIRNER HAS ALWAYS BEEN A VISIONARY DEALER. INITIALLY, HE OPENED A RELATIVELY SMALL SPACE AT 43 GREENE STREET IN THE SOHO DISTRICT OF NEW YORK.  MANY LOCATIONS LATER, MUCH EXPANSION AND AN INTERNATIONAL PRESENCE AS ONE OF THE VERY TOP LEADING GALLERIES WORLDWIDE, THE ONE CONSISTENT THREAD THROUGHOUT THE NOW TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS IS DAVID ZWIRNER’S COMMITMENT TO SHOWING CHALLENGING, THOUGHTFUL, MEANINGFUL WORKS OF ART WITHOUT COMPROMISE.

David Zwirner
First gallery in SoHo
43 Greene Street, New York

FROM GREENE STREET TO CHELSEA IN NEW YORK TO THE UPPER EAST SIDE OF MANHATTAN, FROM LONDON TO HONG KONG WITH A MUCH-ANTICIPATED EXPANSION IN CHELSEA UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF ARCHITECT EXTRAORDINAIRE, ANNABELLE SELLDORF, ZWIRNER HAS CREATED AN INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY OF DEDICATED STAFF, COMMITTED COLLECTORS, CURATORS AND SUPPORTERS. THE GALLERY’S COMMITMENT TO ITS ARTISTS AND TO THE INTEGRITY OF THEIR WORK SET A STANDARD WHEN THE GALLERY FIRST OPENED THAT HAS CONTINUED TO THIS DAY. MANY OF THE ARTISTS IN AN EXHIBITION, FIVE YEARS, 1993-1998, COMMEMORATING THE GALLERY’S FIRST FIVE YEARS ON GREENE STREET, CONTINUE TO BE REPRESENTED BY DAVID ZWIRNER GALLERY TODAY.

Veronique Ansorge
Director
David Zwirner Gallery, New York

THE LRFA BLOG IS HONORED TO WELCOME VERONIQUE ANSORGE, DIRECTOR AT DAVID ZWIRNER, 525 WEST 19th STREET, IN CHELSEA, NEW YORK AND GREG LULAY, PARTNER AT DAVID ZWIRNER, 537 WEST 20th STREET, NEW YORK. COLLEAGUES AND FRIENDS, THEY HAVE JOINED FORCES TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE LRFA BLOG. AFTER AN INITIAL INTRODUCTION TO BOTH OF THEM, WE WILL FOCUS ON THE RELEVANCE OF THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC AND ITS IMPACT ON THE WAY IN WHICH ONE OF THE GREAT INTERNATIONAL GALLERIES HAS HAD THE FORESIGHT TO PREPARE FOR THIS UNSEEN CRISIS.

New York: 19th Street

https://www.davidzwirner.com/galleries

VERONIQUE AND GREG, THANK YOU SO MUCH. I KNOW YOU ARE BOTH AS BUSY AS EVER, WORKING FROM HOME, ONLINE AND JUST RECENTLY, BY APPOINTMENT AT THE NEW YORK GALLERIES, TO CONTACT CLIENTS AND CONTINUE TO SUPPORT THE PRESENCE AND COMMERCE OF THE GALLERY DURING THE SHUTDOWN.

FIRST, A BIT ABOUT YOUR PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUNDS.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BOTH BEEN AT THE GALLERY AND HOW DID YOU COME TO WORK AT ZWIRNER? WAS YOUR BACKGROUND IN THE ARTS, AS AN ACADEMIC, IN THE AUCTION WORLD OR IN ANOTHER GALLERY?

Greg Lulay:

I’ve been at the gallery for 17 years, starting at Zwirner & Wirth, which was the secondary market gallery David opened on the Upper East Side in 2000. Prior to that, I was at university in Seattle, where I studied business, fine arts, and art history, and worked in a gallery in Seattle upon graduation. I worked for a gallery there for a few years, which brought me to New York in 1999. 

Veronique Ansorge:

I’m originally from Germany, and I  started at the gallery in December 2007. I have an MBA, studied Economics in college, and previously worked in business consulting and marketing. I switched careers because of my interest in art. I started as David’s assistant and was lucky enough to grow within the company. I’m now a Director on the gallery’s Sales Team.

GL: That’s amazing. I remember when I started working at the gallery there were only three people at Zwirner & Wirth, including myself, and only a handful of people working at the Chelsea outpost. It’s changed quite a bit in the 17 years I’ve been here. I went from working the front desk and as a gallery manager for years to making my way into sales and artist management.

New York: 20th Street

HOW IS ZWIRNER STRUCTURED?  THE GALLERY HAS VENUES VIRTUALLY ALL OVER THE WORLD, NEW YORK, LONDON, HONG KONG, AND NOW A BEAUTIFUL NEW SPACE IN PARIS.  ARE EACH OF THE GALLERIES AUTONOMOUS IN TERMS OF EXHIBITION SCHEDULES AND CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS OR, IN THIS GLOBAL MARKET, IS THE PLANNING FOR ALL THE ZWIRNER GALLERIES WORLDWIDE HANDLED BY A SPECIAL TEAM?

VA: The way it’s structured, it’s still very much driven by David Zwirner as the owner and main strategist of the gallery. However, he has eight partners that have a lot of influence in making decisions on artist management and exhibition schedules. New York is the hub, but we all connect on a weekly basis. Our decisions are made as a team.

GL: Although each of our galleries around the world have distinct qualities unique to that physical location and city, the larger gallery operates collectively – as one company. For example, certain operational decisions are specific to doing business in London versus Hong Kong, and largely those decisions are made by our teams in those locations. However, the majority of decisions we make are coordinated across all locations, be that client outreach, exhibition planning, research, communications, inventory, shipping.  But, as Veronique noted, one aspect that adds to the success of the gallery is the fact that we operate in a team format. We make decisions as a team, and are stronger because of it.

IN NEW YORK, VERONIQUE AND GREG EXEMPLIFY THAT TEAM SPIRIT, TRAVELING BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN THE 19th AND 20th STREET GALLERIES WITH CLIENTS AND MUSEUM CURATORS  BOTH OFTEN WORKING IN TANDEM TO SHARE THEIR LOVE OF THE ARTISTS’ WORK AND THEIR DEPTH OF KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THEIR PROCESS AND AESTHETIC WITH THE VISITORS TO THE GALLERIES. SOCIAL DISTANCING OR NOT, THE LRFA BLOG PREDICTS LINES AROUND THE BLOCK FOR THE KUSAMA EXHIBITIONS ARE NOT A THING OF THE PAST!

IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG POST, THEY WILL CONTINUE TO ADDRESS THE WORKINGS OF THE GALLERIES WITHIN THE UMBRELLA OF DAVID ZWIRNER WORLDWIDE. PLEASE JOIN US!

Art Market Update: Bank of America Private Bank, a three phase perspective

THE ART MARKET’S RESPONSE IN THREE PHASES

The art market tends to lag the stock market and the broader economy. Pullbacks are typified by a misalignment of buyer-seller expectations. We’ve had three major art market pullbacks in the last 30 years: the 2008–09 financial crisis, the 2001 bursting of the tech bubble (compounded by the 9/11 terrorist attacks) and the 1990–91 global recession. The two most recent pullbacks had V-shaped recoveries, while the 1990 collapse took nearly a decade to bounce back, partly due to higher interest rates. We expect the post-COVID-19 art market to avoid a steep collapse and forge a three-phased path ahead: The Bridge, The Adjustment and The Recovery.

The Bridge Phase (now through Fall). As the medical crisis wanes, local economies reopen and the world begins to spin again, we expect the art market will likely be supply-constrained until there is more economic clarity. But don’t expect deep discounts in Phase I. During the last crisis, the total value of art sold fell 40% from 2008 to 2009.* This was driven by sellers refusing to accept lower prices from bargain-hunting buyers, not price depreciation. Expect a similar phenomenon through the summer as consignors sit on the sideline awaiting economic clarity, and auction houses, art fairs and galleries shift to digital sales channels to salvage some revenue. Perhaps counterintuitively, the few works that do come to market will likely be met with surprisingly stable demand as stimulative monetary policy and a bored, quarantined collector base continues to buy. While the summer auctions will likely have thinner offerings, previously negotiated guarantees and stable demand should keep price levels stable.

The Adjustment Phase (Fall through Spring 2021). Beginning this autumn, the number of works coming to market are expected to spike sharply and outpace demand in some segments, pushing prices lower. Cash-strapped galleries in need of liquidity, distressed sellers impacted by market volatility and consignors who’ve psychologically accepted lower prices will hit the public and private market. Demand—a function of collector sentiment—will ultimately be determined by the medical reality, stock market levels and buyers’ liquidity. But we expect prices to recalibrate slightly downward during this period. Prices on the few masterpieces that trade should remain stable, but hyper-contemporary and middle market works will likely see downward pressure. Phase II is the time for bargain-hunting.

The Recovery Phase (2021 and beyond). The art market’s deflationary period should end as capital markets strengthen, the corporate profit cycle normalizes and economic sentiment rebounds. During this period, economies will begin paying for their monetary and fiscal responses to COVID-19 through inflation. This should again drive capital into art (the Fed can’t print Picassos). Primary market contemporary artists—particularly young figurative pre-crisis market darlings—will lag more established artists. Middle market galleries and museum acquisition programs will likely take years to recover, and some will close. Well-capitalized mega-galleries should emerge stronger and the art fair calendar will likely shrink. We expect virtual sales rooms, online auctions and digital channels to boom, but ultimately the art market could return to its social, tactile roots in Phase III (vaccine willing).

 

THREE BIG ART MARKET TRENDS

  1. Art ecosystem adapts. The art market’s infrastructure is in the midst of an extreme retrenchment. Galleries, auction houses and museums have cut or furloughed staff and are pondering how to function in this new environment. Expect a wave of consolidation and closures—the galleries we’ve spoken to say revenue is off by 80%. The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) estimates that 30% of museums will not have the resources to reopen, and galleries tell us that business will be down 70% this year. We expect the most rapid, potent innovation cycle we’ve ever witnessed in the art market’s history. This means a more accessible, impersonal, transparent, slightly dreary, virtual art world in the near term.
  2. Auction house strategy. Last year three auction houses sold themselves—Hindman, Bonhams and Sotheby’s. A battle for market share has eroded industry margins, and the age of social distancing has accelerated their move into new product areas and digital sales channels. Expect the live digital-hybrid auction model to be used for its major sales for the foreseeable future. You’ll also see a proliferation of eBay-style multiday auctions with the option to offer a buy-it-now price and significantly more lots sold via private treaty sale than under hammer. Expect creative alliances among auction houses (for example, Guardian and Christie’s in China) and with the private market (Sotheby’s Gallery Network). Finally, look for the houses to make strategic bets in fashion, retail and even financial services.
  3. Rise (and fall) of digital. Social distancing has expedited the art world’s transition to digital sales channels. We first saw the digital acceleration in March as Art Basel Hong Kong launched an entirely virtual fair. Expect all art fairs to have digital sales rooms. Galleries tell us that virtual sales are 25% of live fairs. The new format creates more price transparency, which drives market efficiency and accessibility. Recent online auctions and digital art fairs have proven surprisingly effective with high sales and up to 40% of auction bids coming from new bidders. You might never see an in-person day-sale auction again. While the digital dream is now real, it is wanting; as a result, we expect the art market to transition to a hybrid digital/in-person world, once we are able.

FOUR TACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR COLLECTORS

  1. Consider your art as a source of liquidity. As interest rates drop and markets turn choppy, take stock of your liquidity options. More collectors hold their art on the balance sheet and use it as a strategic source of capital to redeploy into investments. And because art is not priced daily, art loans offer lower margin call risk than a typical margin loan.
  2. Consignment considerations. As you think about selling art, consider the benefits and drawbacks of your current options: hybrid auction formats, private treaty sales, online-only digital sales and gallery consignment. To help manage risk for our clients, we’re building optionality into consignment agreements to provide a release valve should the medical or financial crisis intensify.
  3. Planning considerations. Appraisals are expected to adjust lower, which should in turn affect planning. Certain planning techniques are more efficient when interest rates are lower. For example, the Internal Revenue Service 7520 rate is issued monthly and reflects an assumed rate of return. Since the June 2020 rate is the lowest it has ever been (0.6%) it provides an opportunity to transfer even more wealth to the next generation.
  4. Gifting and philanthropy. Aside from selling, collectors have additional options for their art: give it to family members or donate it to charity. Lower values affect both of these options. While no one likes lower values, they do allow a senior generation to transfer more wealth to the next generation at a reduced transfer tax cost. Conversely, depressed values (and appraisals) may lower charitable income tax deductions for donations of art. However, the ability to deduct cash donations was increased to 100% of adjusted gross income as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”), which dramatically increases the deduction for cash donations to art and cultural institutions.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT BANK OF AMERICA’S ART SERVICES, CONTACT EVAN BEARD, NATIONAL ART SERVICES EXECUTIVE, at evan.beard@bofa.com

https://www.privatebank.bankofamerica.com/articles/art-services-market-update.html