Curator Frederic Letzelter, who runs Zadok Art Gallery talks about running an art gallery business and offers a few tips for artists interested in trying to sell their art in galleries in this interview.
How Did You Develop an Interest in Art?
“I come from a family where art has always been part of our lives. Art has played a significant role in my family for centuries. One of my ancestors did the marital sculpture of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. His son was a bronze sculptor for Napoleon and then the family had a business of lights in bronze.
My grand-parents were also collectors and the “virus” of art was transmitted to me by my grandmother. So for me, studying the history of art and working in the industry was meant to be.”
When Did You Realize That an Art Gallery Business Was Right for You?
“I decided to study the arts, but I didn’t know how to draw and considered myself a lost cause. Managing an art gallery and representing artist, however, seemed like a great solution. Working with young, emerging artists was especially appealing to me because I believed it would be more exciting that being only an ‘art dealer’ and working with artworks from artists that were dead.”
What Is Your Favorite Thing to Do to Refill the Well?
“When I lived in Paris, I used to go to the Pompidou Museum to look for hours at the Blue paintings of Yves Klein. His IKB (International Klein Blue) is completely hypnotic for me and I was able to lose sense of the time. Activities like this are my favorite way to “refill the well.””
How Do You Find Your Market?
“Miami is a very special city for the art market. Most of the collectors do not live here year-round. For that reason, we try to keep an eye on who is coming to Miami, when and from where. Then we adapt to each of those artists’ specific needs and markets.”
Have You Made Business Connections That Helped Make Your Gallery a Success?
“It is not that much about the connections but about the relationship you have with collectors, artists, art advisors, journalists and museums. Establishing their confidence in you is essential. The art market is a very small world – everybody knows everybody. Working fairly and practicing good faith is the key to building strong, lasting relationships in this industry.”
Is It Still Fun for You to Showcase and Sell Artists’ Work? How Do You Keep It Fun?
“In 8 years in the business, I have never stopped enjoying it. Every artist, every new exhibition is a challenge. Every curatorial display is a risk taken. It would be too easy if by just hanging the work of an artist it will make him the new Picasso or Hirst. Finding patrons for the production of the artworks, support the artists, and defending the artist is a very exciting challenge. And I am lucky that each day is different – when I go to bed at night, I have no idea what the next day will be like. I may be working alongside a notable collector, discovering an incredible young artist, talking to a museum to organize an exhibition. This day-to-day excitement is what makes my work in the art world so enjoyable.”
What Would You Recommend That Anyone Who Wants to Sell His or Her Art Should Do?
“For the artists, I would advise them to not go to the first person you meet – either gallery, art adviser, auctions. Go to the one you feel most confident in. Each artwork is a part of the collector. It is not a random item you want to sell like a car, a sofa. Selling your work is a process that involves finding the right person, who wants to purchase the work for the right reason, at the right time. Make sure you go to the entity that you think will keep all of these things in mind, and ultimately represent you best.
Concerning the masters, it is a circuit completely different than the gallery world. Most of the collectors who sell and buy in this private market prefer to remain anonymous. For artists, the best is to rely on a gallery to represent them and promote their art. The best thing is to first look online for the galleries. Look at their website and see if the gallery’s artistic direction complements the work what they are doing. There is nothing more upsetting for a gallery than receiving an email from an artist who didn’t even take the time to look at who they already represent. If you are an abstract painter do not contact a gallery specializing in figurative photography. Additionally, do not go to a gallery without having an appointment. It is disrespectful to the work of the gallerist.”
After reading these tips, artists should be better prepared to sell art through galleries. In addition, artists who want to just make art for arts’ sake may have discovered that opening an art gallery is the right career path for them.