• gerard van weyenbergh

Larry Gagosian, the strong man of Contemporary Art, 1/2

75 years old, Larry Gagosian reigns over 17 galleries across the world and rules the craziest market of the time. For the first time, he opens the doors of his luxurious home in the Hamptons.

Behind the astronomical prices of Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst or Takashi Murakami, in the shadow of exhibitions worthy of the great museums, hides a silent and fiery man: Larry Gagosian.

Global, glamorous, expensive, very expensive: these are its codes, imposed on an art market for which this big boss dictates the trends, shining in the heart of the tiny circle of merchants capable of bringing artists to posterity. Like Durand-Ruel, ambassador of the Impressionists, Ambroise Vollard, discoverer of Cézanne and Van Gogh, or Leo Castelli, promoter of pop art.

With platinum hair, the 75 years old handsome Larry reigns over seventeen galleries from Beverly Hills to Hong Kong, from Paris to Athens. At the start of 2021, he will invest a new space of 9,300 square meters, in Los Angeles, in the former Freemason temple, which then housed the Marciano collection. "We must always grow; otherwise, we go back.

If I hadn't taken this building, someone else would have done it," explains calmly the man who, always elegant, plays tennis three times a week and carefully maintains his reputation as a party animal. Covid requires, since last March, Gagosian has not left his property in East Hampton, near New York. A thousand square meters revolved around an interior garden designed in 1983 by the architect Charles Gwathmey. His American galleries (five in New York, two in California) are, except for one, all closed for business

From his residence, Gagosian, hyperactive, constantly converses with the 85 artists of his stable

"In the United States, it all happened at the same time as a huge storm. In addition to the health crisis, there were the presidential elections, which made us worried, and this racial issue that the country must resolve. "He hopes the rapid discovery of a cure for Covid. "We could then imagine that the major art market events, such as Art Basel, will resume next June. It is difficult for living artists because they want to sell their work, show, and comment on their work to the artistic community. The Internet does not provide the sensations of a real exhibition. "

From his residence, Gagosian, hyperactive, continually talks with the 85 artists of his stable. There are those he pampers, admires, encourages to produce. And the mass of others, whom he leaves alone. Among his favorites: the Swiss Urs Fischer, exhibited last winter in Paris, Ed Ruscha, this veteran of Californian pop art hatched by a long-standing friendship, or even Richard Serra. To promote the latter's colossal steel sculptures, it was necessary to invest a gigantic space in New York. Nothing is too big for Larry. "The current pandemic is not an upheaval for the daily life of artists. They have spent their entire existence confined to their workshops. As for their work, I haven't noticed any changes, no revelations so far.

With the crisis, like everyone else, the merchant has reduced his sails. "It's costly, a gallery with 250 employees who, from openings to fairs, constantly travel around the world! We had to come to some savings, and we had to ask some employees to leave. "His appetite is nonetheless insatiable:" I have the same motivation as when I started. I always have to create new things to move forward. It is my driving force, my approach to business. The fierce individualist joined recently forces with two major New York brands, Bill Acquavella, of the gallery of the same name, and Arne Glimcher, of the Pace Gallery, to acquire the sumptuous collection of financier Donald Marron. A first, for a treasure rumored to be 350 million dollars. "Each partner has a strong network of collectors.

I wanted a global gallery to reinvent the system by settling in key cities around the world.

With Leo Castelli, promoter - among others - of Andy Warhol, Gagosian found a good example: "I watched him sell, talk about artists and talk to them. However, those who known the two believe that Larry Gagosian is setting his sights on names that have already proven themselves.

From his space in SoHo, New York, Castelli set up a galleries network that played correspondents. Gagosian set up the principle on its scale, disproportionate: "I wanted a global gallery, to reinvent the system by settling in key cities around the world, and by following my instinct and my ambition. It is not easy every day, but I love to work! "

As the professionals have called it, the other characteristic of the "Gago system," as the professionals have called it, consists of leading the way. © Paris Match. - Judith Benhamou-Muet