meet the curator
By: Tal Levy
20 April, 2023
A small conversation with the 'Galerie Droste' Manager about herself, her influences and her curatorial practice
Credit Galerie Droste
Tell us about yourself.
There is a bit of hybridity, I think, in the way I have to present myself: I am first and foremost an art historian, I sometimes curate, I sometimes write for the press and artists and I also create, but the heart of my current job is in Paris, at the Galerie Droste. In fact, all this is very linked and I usually say that I am an artist's showman and an image maker. I like the idea of craft in these turns of phrase.
Can you tell us about your background in the arts, and how you ended up working as a curator?
After obtaining two degrees at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris, in art history and museology, I became an art historian: this term, which in itself does not designate a single profession, allows to approach art and culture by various ways.
Before becoming Gallery Manager for Galerie Droste, I also worked in other art galleries and museums, notably the Musée d'Orsay, where I was able to work on two beautiful exhibitions as a conservation assistant intern. At the same time, I have always had at heart to continue a personal artistic practice, it seems to me to be an asset more than a loss to succeed in understanding the desires of artists.
The role of the curator is continuously in development. According to you, what does it mean to be a curator today?
Being a curator can mean everything and nothing. The phrase may seem a bit odd, far be it from me to denigrate this role, on the contrary, but this status is unfortunately also under the assault of fashion: many people can use this term wrongly. I think we must see this role with a lot of humility, remembering that it is more of an opportunity than a profession (I mean that few curators manage to live only from their curatorial work). I myself take great pleasure in saying that I have curated an exhibition, but I will not present myself as such, only as a curator.
Credit Institut Géographique National Paris
Tell us about your curatorial process.
When I think about an exhibition, I need to surround myself with a lot of books and references in art(s) history: I keep my researcher's reflexes. My project is simple: I have not given up on the notion of beauty and I have very specific ideals in mind. I keep the idea of
being able to create beautiful, informed, deep, daring exhibitions that have meaning and that can connect artists with the world and with people who can help them develop their art, always. In his Nobel Prize speech, Albert Camus said that the artist should not isolate
himself, that he is subject to a humble and universal truth that he transmits to the greatest number. I always remain faithful to this thought and I believe that whoever exhibits an artist must have the same direction.
"Being a curator can mean everything and nothing."
Credit Anaïs Novembre
How do you build relationships with artists?
The artists I like or dream of exhibiting are always artists whose works I would like to own and I will obviously never resell. I will keep them jealously to create a collection of interesting and intelligent things against all that is frightening in our societies. It is difficult
for me to detach myself from the feeling and I constantly try to establish a relationship of trust that can be transparent and benevolent. An artist told me a few days ago that I didn't scare her: I took that as a very nice compliment. But does that mean that others are trying to
rule by terror? I'm not interested in trying to impress people by terrifying them.
Can you highlight some of your influences and discuss how your influences have made an
impact on you and your curatorial practice?
My answer may be surprising, perhaps: I am thinking both of the great art merchants of the 19th and 20th centuries, but also of the small cafes of the neighborhood who agree to show the works of one of their clients or friends with great generosity and confidence. Ambition
inspires as much as modesty. I think the important thing is to want to show the work of an artist and not to erase it by taking her or his place.
Credit Galerie Droste
What are you currently working on?
Patrick Droste and Katharina Galladé, Galerie Droste owners, gave me carte blanche to realize the first solo show of the artist Eve Malherbe in a Parisian gallery. The exhibition is called PARAGONE, after the great theoretical and rhetorical debate that took place during the Italian Renaissance. The idea of the Paragone at the time was to find a status for the artist and to create a discourse defending an artistic practice, by having fun comparing the arts. Eve being a multidisciplinary artist, who paints, draws and even sculpts, we thought of the exhibition as a nose-thumbing at the debate, and at everything that asks artists to choose, by altering their freedom and stifling their imagination. The purpose of the exhibition is not to criticise the Paragone, which was a very interesting exercise, but rather to question the boxes in which some want to place artists today.
What are your plans for the remainder of this year?
I have the opportunity to work on new and exciting projects with the gallery, including group shows that we prepare with my colleague Claire Guinet, the Paris gallery director, and to personally accompany several artists by applying with them for prizes, competitions and by
helping them to present themselves to other professionals in the art world. There are some great writing projects underway as well - writing is one of the things that motivates me the most - and I thank each artist who decides to trust me: I hope to bring them as much as they bring me.