He tells us about how he came to work with Louis K Meisel, the art dealer pioneer of photorealist art, how he selects his artists, support young artists and more.
As a fan of this art movement, I cannot recommend enough this amazing gallery, representing the world’s best artists of this genre, and I feel very grateful to Frank Bernarducci both for his welcome and time.
You opened your first gallery in 1984 exhibiting East Village artists. What led you to realism and hyperrealism?
Well the east village artists were basically all figurative painters. Once that scene was over I came uptown to work for two representational painting Galleries throughout the 1990s. That’s why when I approached Meisel about a partnership he and I clicked because he knew those Galleries and had been showing Photorealist painters since the early 70s.
How do you choose the artists that you represent?
Talent. Originality is the key. Naturally we look at technique first; for example there are a lot of respectable still life painters out there; but if I see one more static painting of marbles or antique toys, I’m going to scream. It has already been done and better than anyone by Charles Bell. Maybe there are artists who think they can do it better or maybe they think no one remembers or maybe they just don’t know anything about the history of contemporary realist painting; but why would you put so much time and effort into something that has been done better by somebody else? `
You also present some artists in your First look section to showcase less established artists. Can you tell us about your process to identify these artists?
First there must be an emotional response to the work; something spiritual, a certain truth and beauty. The artist must have an idyllic vision of whatever is being depicted, a unique point of view. There must be a sense of structure and of course technically, it must transcend the reality of the subject being depicted whether it is a painting of a figure, a landscape or a still life. It must be painted in a thoroughly modern way, a way that we have never seen before. We receive more than 10,000 artist submissions a year so we know right away when we have something special.
Below example of works from FIRST LOOK artists
Some say that nothing has changed in the art world in the last 20 years, some others that it’s under major change. What is your point of view?
Both are true. We are all still all having monthly exhibitions with the artists standing around drinking white wine but we are also part of a global community of museums and galleries where artists can show anywhere in the world because we are now tied together primarily through social media.
How do you feel about the role that art fairs play in the life of an art dealer? It’s too expensive. A booth at Art Basel Miami costs $90,000
You’re also an art collector. Can you tell us about your collection? Do you select the artists you collect the same way than the ones you represent?
Yes, 80% of my collection includes at least one painting by each artist I represent – with a couple of exceptions. I hope to own a Nathan Walsh one day but his work is currently too large for any wall in either of my homes.
Do you have an anecdote that you’d like to share? One of your biggest achievements?
Well I’m not very good at tooting my own horn but I feel that over the years, our Gallery has supported a lot of artists and helped them build homes and have children and be full time artists. We have also contributed paintings to important collections world-wide and we often get feedback on how a certain painting acquired from us has received by far the greatest number of compliments.
What is the question you’re asked the most? “How long did it take to make that painting?”
What is the question you’d like to be asked? How do I go about purchasing that painting?
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