Interview with Art Dealer Charles Guice – Part 2

If you missed it, read part 1 of my interview with art dealer Charles Guice.

D&B: What kind of art collectors do you work with?
CG: I work with both public and private collections. Obviously; it’s essential to sell work into public collections; I was thrilled to place the first pieces that the J. Paul Getty Museum acquired by Carrie Mae Weems. Even though she was the first living artist who had exhibited at the museum, they did not own any of her work. In addition, I’ve placed works in prominent collections throughout the United States and abroad, including The Brooklyn Museum of Art, The High Museum of Art, The International Center of Photography and The Williams College Museum of Art.

But, for me, placing work in a private collection can be just important as a public one. A number of years ago, I met a private collector from Birmingham, Alabama. He purchased several works from me, and then invited me to come and visit him. So I did, and I took several artists with me. I returned later, with more artists in fact, but that first trip led to countless opportunities for me as well as for my artists, including a significant endowment for a major body of work.

The most important aspect, however, are the friendships you can establish with private collectors. They’re truly one of the benefits of the job.

Max de Esteban
from the series Proposition One, 2010
Courtesy the artist and Charles Guice Contemporary, New York

D&B: What advice would you give to artists wanting to enter the art market?
CG: The foremost advice I would give to an artist that wants to enter the art market is to decide what type of artist you want to be. That single factor will determine how you and your work will be perceived in the market and in the art world in general. It’s not unlike a corporation determining what’s its core business is; it’s essential to promoting yourself and your work.

Secondly, and I can’t stress this enough, make a point of going out too see work. Not just within your own medium, but all forms of creative artwork. An example that immediately comes to mind—clearly because I’m a fan of all three—is the dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch. She directly influenced the directors Pedro Almodóvar and Wim Wenders, so much so that both featured her in their films.

Not every artist will adhere to, or even want to adhere to, what has now become the traditional route into the art world, e.g., art school, residencies, gallery shows and then museum exhibitions. I think that’s fine, but it’s still incumbent upon the emerging artist to study independently.

D&B: Are there any emerging artists that have recently caught your eye?
CG: There are actually quite a number of emerging artists that have caught my eye, that I’ve either met during portfolio reviews, in museum shows, or online. I’m really excited about Eufália Cristina Paz de Almeida, a conceptual artist who uses photography in a way very similar to Sophie Calle and whose work feels at home in that same Oulipian school.

I also like Linarejos Moreno, whose photographs document her performative installations, much like Lalla Essaydi’s. Adam Wiseman’s work is fantastic, particularly his series Area Conurbada and Not Too Close, as well as Sylwia Kowalczyk’s portraiture. Her 2009/2010 series, Temporal Portraits, is simply wonderful.

Elías Heim’s oeuvre crosses the boundaries of photography, sculpture and installation, but I really like his 2009 work Geheimzimmer (Gabinete Secreto). Finally, I’d be hugely remiss if I failed to mention Vincent Delbrouck, particularly Beyond History or his most recent series, As Dust Alights, or Jim Mortram’s work. All of it.

Erika Diettes
Sudarios installation at El Museo Iglesia de Santa Clara, Bogotá, Colombia, April 2011
Courtesy the artist and Charles Guice Contemporary, New York

D&B: You’re quite the prolific Twitter user. How have you used social media for your art business?
CG: I’m a huge fan of Twitter, although I have to admit I wasn’t always. At one time, I eschewed—can I say that with a straight face?—Facebook, Twitter and, more recently, Google +.

I created my original Twitter account in 2009, but never used it. But a year or two later, I realized it was an easy way to keep up with English football (I’m an avid—read rabid—fan of Arsenal Football Club). I can find out information from journalists or other fans, generally long before the major news outlets begin to report it. As a football fan, Twitter has become invaluable to me.

I eventually realized that I could use it in my business. There’s a huge photo-community using Twitter; virtually every major museum is on, as well as countless artists, curators, and museum directors. Twitter allows you to reach audiences in a way that email and Facebook simply cannot.

Every single reviewee I met with at FotoFest earlier this year heard me say the same thing: Twitter is about what’s happening right now; Facebook is about what happened yesterday, and email is about what happened last week. And for those that remain skeptical, I remind them that every single Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 company is on Twitter.

Personally, I use Twitter to announce exhibitions, book releases, and to comment on artists and work that I see and like. Not to mention an occasional tweet about Arsenal.

D&B: If money were no object, what art piece would you want to own?
CG: If money were no object, the art piece I would want to own—if I may include a complete work of art—is Gerhard Richter’s cycle October 18, 1977. I had always been a Richter fan, but in 2002 I saw the traveling exhibition, Gerhard Richter: 40 Years of Painting at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

October 18, 1977 consists of fifteen paintings Richter created “…as a result of his fascination with the Red Army Faction (RAF), which had been active in Germany since the beginning of the 1970s.” Robert Storr organized and curated the show, and I recall transcribing a portion of the audio guide, which I still have, word-for-word. He talked about the relationship between photography and Richter’s painting, and specifically about the genre called “history painting”.

I was also fascinated with the Baader-Meinhof Gang and, as a life-long German speaker, the German culture in general, and I was struck by this passage, in which Storr wrote:

“The function of recording history has been turned over to photomechanical means. In choosing to paint things that have already ben photographed, Richter, in a sense, juxtaposes or pits against each other, the two ways of representing history. In this case, the story that he tells episodically is not one which united Germany, but one which in fact divides them, and has done for almost 30 years.”

I remembered thinking at the time that this one passage summed up almost the entirety of Richter’s work, as well as the Sturm und Drang—which I’m using liberally here both literally and figuratively—of Germany after World War II.

And my second choice, or my first, if it has to be a single work of art? Martin Puryear’s Ad Astra—actually, almost any sculpture by him!

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