The artist/gallerist relationship at Cheim & Read with director Maria Bueno
CHEIM & READ GALLERY HAS ALWAYS BEEN PRESCIENT ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE ART MARKET. IN 2018, AT A PANEL AT ART BASEL MIAMI BEACH, CO-FOUNDER HOWARD READ, AT “THE FUTURE OF THE ARTIST AND GALLERIST RELATIONSHIP” DISCUSSION, ANNOUNCED THE GALLERY’S PLANS TO OPEN ON THE UPPER EAST SIDE, AND LEADING THE WAY TOWARDS A NEW MODEL OF GALLERIES THAT IS MORE PROGRESSIVE. WHILE CONTINUING TO DEAL ON THE PRIMARY MARKET, WORKING DIRECTLY WITH ARTISTS IN RELATIONSHIPS THAT CHEIM & READ HAS LOVINGLY CULTIVATED OVER THE YEARS, THE GALLERY WILL CREATE A MORE FLEXIBLE INFRASTRUCTURE, FOCUSING ON THE SECONDARY MARKET, COMMISSIONS, AND TARGETED ART FAIRS.
MARIA BUENO, DIRECTOR AT CHEIM & READ, CELEBRATES HER 10TH ANNIVERSARY AT THE GALLERY AND SHARES WITH THE LRFA BLOG THE GALLERY’S ENORMOUS RESPECT FOR ITS ARTISTS, AND SENSITIVITY TO THE ARTIST/GALLERIST RELATIONSHIP.
MARIA, WELCOME BACK AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE LRFA BLOG.
WHAT WERE THE SUBSEQUENT STEPS THAT LED YOU TO CHEIM AND READ?
I graduated college, moved to Europe for a year (and worked for a gallery in Barcelona), and then came back and worked for Phillips in their contemporary art department. I started there as an administrator, then a junior specialist, and although I enjoyed the educational component of learning about new artists as well as the evening sales adrenaline rush, I missed the connection to working directly with artists. I kept in touch with Cheim & Read and when the timing was finally right, joined them in 2010.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH THE GALLERY AND WHAT IS ITS BUSINESS STRUCTURE?
Next year will be my 10th year anniversary with Cheim & Read. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with John Cheim and Howard Read. They encouraged me to find my own identity and style as a dealer, supported projects or initiatives I thought would be beneficial to the gallery, and entrusted me to form my own relationships with the artists they so carefully cultivated over their careers.
For over two decades, Cheim & Read represented over twenty artists and estates and most of our focus was building and supporting these artists on the primary market. We also had a strong presence in the secondary market with artists with whom we had an interest or particular expertise. In June of 2018, we announced that we would be relocating from Chelsea to a more intimate gallery on the Upper East Side and shifting our business model to one that is more nimble, flexible, and in line with John Cheim and Howard Read’s interest in pursuing projects and working with artists they are truly passionate about.
DO YOU HAVE WORKING RELATIONSHIPS WITH SPECIFIC ARTISTS OR IS YOUR FOCUS PRIMARILY IN THE SALE OF WORKS FOR ALL THE ARTISTS THE GALLERY REPRESENTS?
We have a very organic approach to working with artists – there is no such thing as an “artist’s liaison” at Cheim & Read. John and Howard have their longstanding relationships with our artists and I support their efforts by developing my own relationships so that we can best service the needs of the artists on an individual basis. It has a family-like quality that I think is rare for galleries in the present day and has served us well throughout the gallery’s history.
WHAT ARE THE WAYS IN WHICH A GALLERY BEST REPRESENTS AN ESTATE? IS THE EMPHASIS ON PLACING WORKS IN COLLECTIONS OR MUSEUMS OR IN ARRANGING MUSEUM EXHIBITIONS ON AN INTERNATIONAL BASIS?
Our strategy is to first mount exhibitions of important but perhaps overlooked periods in an artist’s career. The goal here is to expose curators, collectors, and the general public to a body of work that perhaps has not been seen in many years or has not been explored in further depth.
Notable examples of this are Al Held’s Alphabet Paintings (2013), Hans Hartung’s late paintings (2010), the work of Serge Poliakoff (2016), and the Board paintings of Milton Resnick (2018). These exhibitions are accompanied by scholarly publications with writing from curators or critics that helps to reframe this work a contemporary context. These efforts usually begin important conversations with museums to acquire works for their collection and/or mount their own presentation of the artist. We also establish more in depth strategies with each estate to feature works at art fair presentations or other exhibition or project opportunities, undertake outreach efforts to institutions and foundations to feature and/or acquire works, create and/or help organize an estate’s archive, and much more.
IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG WITH MARIA BUENO, DIRECTOR OF CHEIM & READ, WE WILL EXPLORE JUST A LITTLE OF THE GALLERY’S VERY RICH HISTORY.
VISIT CHEIM & READ’S NEW UPTOWN SPACE, AT 23 EAST 67TH STREET, AND ITS EXUBERANT INAUGURAL EXHIBITION CELEBRATING THE WORK OF RON GORCHOV.