Art inspiration with Gagosian’s Gary Waterston
As Managing Director Europe at Gagosian, an international art gallery with premises across Asia, Europe and North America, Gary Waterston answers our questions and shares insight into today’s diverse art world.
What appeals about the art world and Gagosian?
I was incredibly lucky to join Gagosian in 2002. I’d been a late starter, only visiting my first contemporary art gallery exhibition at the age of 21, when a curator invited me to a private view.
What makes Gagosian a world leader?
We aim to be leaders in every aspect of what we do, as a business and as a team. We set the highest standards, from the artists and estates we work with to the physical premises we build and exhibit in. We operate in 17 spaces worldwide, producing exhibition catalogues, monographs, magazines and other publications, participate in high-profile art fairs, have a strong digital offering, and always aim to raise the bar with every opportunity we invest in.
How did Gagosian react to lockdown?
At the core of what we do are the relationships we have with our artists, our collectors and our community. Like many other organisations, we found alternative ways of working such as virtual meetings or the good old telephone. We started a new ‘Artist Spotlight’ focusing on a different artist each week, paving the way for us to share new content. It’s been very popular and is something we’re looking to continue.
What effect has this period had on your artists?
Many artists are impacted right now through exhibitions being cancelled or postponed but in terms of what art comes from this period, I can’t wait to see. Many have gone back to basic principles, which has been interesting. Those who have enjoyed larger studios and working collaboratively, have found a different set of circumstances by going into the studio on their own. How that manifests is going to be very intriguing.
Have your galleries reopened?
All of our galleries in Europe are open again. Each space has responded to the opportunity incredibly elegantly, in keeping with how we want to present our exhibitions and respectful of local government guidelines. We’ve introduced face masks, hand sanitiser and social distancing to make the environment safe for both our colleagues and clients. Some clients have requested exclusive gallery viewings on their own, which we will try to create where possible.
Can you share some upcoming London highlights?
We have three exciting new exhibitions in London this autumn. There’s an installation of paintings by Los Angeles-based artist Mary Weatherford at Grosvenor Hill (from September 22) and a show of Nathaniel Mary Quinn’s collage-style composite portraits at Davies Street (from October 1). Another must-see is a sweeping exhibition of works from Meleko Mokgosi’s ambitious ‘Democratic Intuition’, a series of paintings depicting southern African life and folklore, over on Britannia Street in King’s Cross (from September 29).
Has there been any positive impact on the art market?
Yes, people have spent time at home considering the things in life they truly care about and the family, friends and objects they want to surround themselves with. For some of our collectors, it’s created a unique opportunity for them to re-engage with their collection and examine the importance that art plays in their life.
Right now, technology presents a great opportunity for new collectors. Galleries are putting together so much content on behalf of their artists and making it freely available through various digital platforms. It’s easier than ever for collectors to search, find, discover and learn about artists, so why not make the most of this great resource.
What things do you like to see in Paris, London, Milan, Rome and LA?
In Paris, I try to see whatever exhibition is on at the Giacometti Institute. Every visit is refreshing and I always learn something new about Giacometti. Any visitor I have to London gets taken to Sir John Soane’s Museum – it’s always high on the itinerary along with visiting at least one room at the National Gallery. Luca Tommasi Arte Contemporanea is a tiny gallery in Milan with an eclectic group of artists that’s well worth seeing. In Rome, I recommend our own Gagosian space followed by dinner at Due Ladroni on Piazza Nicosia. In Los Angeles, a visit to The Broad is always inspiring – not just the collection and exhibitions but the opportunity to glance at their storage facility is always a thrill.
Main image: MELEKO MOKGOSI, Democratic Intuition, Exordium, 2013 -present, Oil and charcoal on canvas, 7 panels © Meloko Mokgosi
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