Nicole Klagsbrun to close gallery after 30 years in the business
New York dealer says she is “sick” of the current system
By Charlotte Burns. Web only
Published online: 28 March 2013
The New York dealer, Nicole Klagsbrun, will close her gallery this summer. “I’m not sick and I’m not broke. I just don’t want the gallery system anymore,” Klagsbrun says. “The old school way was to be close to the artists and to the studios. Nowadays, it’s run like a corporation. After 30 years, this is not what I aspire to do. It is uninteresting.”
Klagsbrun will continue to work, however. “I’m not quitting the business—I want to be involved and engaged, but from a very different angle,” she says. “It’s been my forte to find artists and I want to do that. I want to connect things in a way that’s not just a conduit for a marketplace.”
She will continue to work with artists, and will maintain representation of the estate of Cameron Parsons. She plans to organise shows in America and Europe, starting with the first solo show of works by the young artist Brie Ruais in a rented space in New York this autumn. She will also keep a small office space in Chelsea on West 26th street, on the site of her former gallery.
Klagsbrun says that the current “structure of the system is overwhelming. A dealer’s job is to edit an artist’s work but your eye for quality gets swallowed up by this endless sea of events, fairs and biennials. The pace of it means you don’t have time to reflect or think, or strategise about the right steps for your artists’ careers. The standard of the art goes down, but there are always buyers and, if you don’t take part, you’re not successful.”
She says that the public has changed too. “The conversation is very much about the market—more people ask me about the price of a work than what it’s made of. Paint is irrelevant,” she says. “People want the shopping mall experience of fairs and auctions. In the 1980s and 1990s, you’d sell smaller things to people who had less money and they’d be excited—it meant something to them. Now, a lot of the younger collectors are like gamblers, they just want to make money from art. Some good people have been priced out. Others collectors are just confused.”
Together with Clarissa Dalrymple, Klagsbrun founded the Cable Gallery in 1984. She then established her own gallery in Soho in 1989, before settling in Chelsea in 1998. She has a reputation for a keen eye. The gallery made early showings of artists including Candida Höfer, Karen Kilimnik, Sarah Morris, Billy Sullivan, Rashid Johnson and Brendan Fowler. Klagsbrun has long promoted West Coast artists such as Wallace Berman and Jay DeFeo in New York, presenting a group show in 1991 called “California Assemblagist”.
“I don’t know how sustainable the [current global] gallery model is. If you don’t want to compromise, it’s very difficult—it’s like the Barnes and Noble effect. There are no little libraries.” But, she is looking forward to the next chapter. “It is the end of a series rather than a closure,” Klagsbrun says. “Now I’ve spoken to all the artists, I am starting to feel excited. It’s a new model of functioning.”
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