Setting a high standard: Van de Weghe Fine Art opens in 2000 with a Warhol exhibit
THE ART EMPIRE CREATED BY LARRY GAGOSIAN IS OFTEN SCRUTINIZED AND ANALYZED AS ARE MOST HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL OPERATIONS IN EVERY INDUSTRY. IN 2016, PHAIDON PUBLISHED “MANAGEMENT OF ART GALLERIES”, A UNIQUE RESEARCH PROJECT ANALYZING THE INNER LIFE OF ART GALLERIES BY MAGNUS RESCH, ART MARKET ANALYST, TECH ENTREPRENEUR AND PhD IN ECONOMICS. ONE OF THE UNDISPUTED CHARACTERISTICS OF GAGOSIAN’S SUCCESS, A NETWORK OF 16 OUTSTANDING GALLERIES AROUND THE GLOBE, IS THE INDEPENDENT, ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT OF ITS DIRECTORS.
CONFIRMED BY CAIT MUNRO IN AN ARTICLE ON ARTNET, AUGUST 5, 2015:
With spaces all over the world, Gagosian relies on a team of trusted directors to manage day-to-day operations and liaise with big-name artists and collectors. Each employee is reportedly assigned to manage an artist, while collectors are assigned to whomever they dealt with upon first contact.
IN 2015, JOURNALIST BRIAN BOUCHER, A CONTRIBUTING EDITOR TO ARTNET news TOOK A LOOK “INSIDE GAGOSIAN GALLERY’S TALENT FACTORY”, TRACKING THE PROFESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF “FORMER STAFFERS WHO HAVE GONE ON TO DO GREAT THINGS ON THEIR OWN”.
THE ARTICLE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN COMPLETE WITHOUT A PROFILE ON CHRISTOPHE VAN DE WEGHE, FOUNDER AND OWNER OF VAN DE WEGHE FINE ART, 1018 MADISON AVENUE, BETWEEN 78th AND 79th STREET IN NEW YORK.
Christophe van de Weghe, New York dealer
After spending seven years as a salesman with Gagosian, from 1993 to 2000, Christophe van de Weghe has gone on to run a Madison Avenue gallery. Van de Weghe exhibits at top art fairs like Frieze Masters, Art Basel, TEFAF and FIAC. He deals in modern and contemporary artists from Carl Andre and Francis to Rudolf Stingel and Christopher Wool.
When asked what was the best thing he learned from the master dealer, Van de Weghe was unsentimental: “How to buy and sell artwork!”
One thing you probably didn’t know about the Belgian-born dealer is that from 1986 to 1989, he was an accomplished professional tennis player, ranked among the top 500 in his class worldwide by the Association of Tennis Professionals, he told artnet News.
CHRISTOPHE, WELCOME BACK TO THE LRFA BLOG. TO CONTINUE…
GAGOSIAN IS AN EXTREMELY POWERFUL INTERNATIONAL FORCE IN THE ART WORLD, REPRESENTING ARTISTS’ ESTATES, ESTABLISHED CONTEMPORARY MASTERS AND CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS WITH ACKNOWLEDGED CRITICAL AND COMMERCIAL RECOGNITION.
WHAT PROMPTED YOUR DECISION TO LEAVE AND OPEN YOUR OWN GALLERY?
After seven years, I had accumulated great experience and was doing well financially, but it was in me to have my own business. I had an entrepreneurial spirit from the start, liking the challenge of taking risks.
In 2000, I had heard about a small space on 76th Street between Park and Madison that housed Per Skarstedt, and I was very interested. After seven years, it was time to do it! I asked Larry if he would have lunch with me and told him I wanted to show him something, that I wanted him to see a space and was thinking about opening my own gallery. “I need your blessing, Larry, everything I know, I’ve learned from you and it is very important that you agree it’s time to fly with my own wings. There was one artist, in particular, that I was very close to that I wanted to exhibit. Larry said it was a very good idea and to do it. My first sale, in partnership with Larry, was a Warhol and it sold quickly.
THE INAUGURAL EXHIBITION AT VAN DE WEGHE FINE ART IN NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2000, WAS ANDY WARHOL: WORKS ON PAPER FROM THE EARLY 60s. EVERY WORK WAS FIRST-TIER, WARHOL’S MOST ICONIC IMAGES: THE CAMPBELL’S SOUP CANS, DOLLAR BILLS, AD LOGOS AND CELEBRITY PORTRAITS. THE EXHIBIT INCLUDED RARE, HAND-MADE WORKS ON PAPER AS WELL AS UNIQUE SILKSCREENED IMAGES. THE EXHIBIT WAS DOCUMENTED WITH AN ILLUSTRATED CATALOGUE WITH AN ESSAY BY GERALD MALANGA WHO HAD WORKED WITH WARHOL DURING THE 60s.
CHRISTOPHE, YOU SET A PRECEDENT WITH THIS EXHIBIT IN LAUNCHING SHOWS WITH HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE AND CURATORIAL IMPORT. HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON THIS SHOW AND WHAT DO YOU RECALL OF THE PUBLIC’S RESPONSE AT THE TIME?
When I opened the exhibit on 76th Street with Warhol’s Works on Paper From the Sixties I was able to obtain some great loans culled from a number of private collections. The exhibit provided a great opportunity to document Warhol’s talent as a draftsman and his experimental use of techniques that trace his path from the handmade to the ready-made.
One day during the show, I was sitting in my office and two people called, one a prominent Hollywood star and the other a famous singer in a well-known band. I was very proud that these people, whom I didn’t know, would call me to ask about the exhibit and that I had taken the leap to have my name on the door.
I soon outgrew the space and moved to 23rd Street between 10th and 11th Avenue in Chelsea.
LVR ASIDE TO CHRISTOPHE
I remember stopping by 76th Street to see an exhibition and visit with you. You sounded me out about taking a big space in Chelsea. I must have been playing devil’s advocate (“the voice of reason”) and I clearly remember your reply.
“This is the right time for me to do this. I have no wife and children yet and can take the risk”.
It rang so true. I was impressed by Christophe’s self-awareness and sense of purpose. I was certain the move would be expansive in every sense. It is so nice when one’s powers of prediction prove true – and in this case, it was accurate and then some!
IN OUR NEXT BLOG POST, WE WILL TRAVEL TO CHELSEA AND THE OPENING OF VAN DE WEGHE FINE ART IN A 4000 SQUARE FOOT GALLERY SPACE. THE NEW LOCATION AFFORDED THE GALLERY THE OPPORTUNITY TO PRESENT MORE EXTENSIVE EXHIBITIONS AND SIGNIFICANT LARGE-SCALE WORKS.
PLEASE JOIN US!