Art is about experiencing something transcendental, it's personal, and great art can manifest that experience onto the canvas that allows us to remember the complex and oftentimes joyful or hurtful experiences of being alive; to remember.
Georges Bergès is a gallerist based in New York and, he has galleries in New York, Berlin, and -soon in, Mexico City. His gallery can boast celebrity art-loving clientele and artists and this fall he will show Hunter Biden in New York and Laddie John Dill in Berlin. Georges was born and raised in California. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Clinical Psychology (art therapy) from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1999 and his Master's degree from Seton Hall University in 2005.
While many art collectors do not have the time or inclination to travel, Georges feels that it is integral to see the artists where they live, and this year he anticipates trips to Ghana and Vietnam. When Georges is seeking art, it foremost has to personally moved him. The art and the artist have to have integrity, and he has to foresee its relevance now and for years to come. For the artists of today, it is big shoes to fill. We may have considered the connection between art and travel. Have many of us given thought to art's relationship with time?
Recently, I met up with Georges Bergès in New York to learn more about his quest of art.
What is your favorite city for art and culture and why?
I still believe that New York is the heart of the global art world. Its vibrancy and diversity I have found nowhere else; London, Berlin, and Mexico City, come close but still, I feel New York has the perfect combination of energy, diversity, ingenuity, creativity, and cultural freedom found nowhere else - a mix rooted in the American ideal that we can become and all are Americans. As a child of immigrants, while growing up this American narrative resonated deeply with me and the heart of it can still be found in New York.
What was it about the ’70s and 80s art scene in New York that you were particularly drawn to and admired?
I feel that people were liberated during that time and it’s reflected in the amount of creative energy that came from that cultural monuments which we still live with today: from famed Gallerist Leo Castelli to Warhol and Basquiat and countless others that made that period not only special but transformative. Interpersonal relations were critical to the art world at the time we still remembered the intrinsic value of art even if its exchange value was gaining center stage in the art world. There’s a romance I still have about the art world rooted in the period which I think it’s important to retain.
What did you like about Leo Castelli?
I feel Leo Castelli had the perfect balance between love of art, the lifestyle, what it meant to place a work in a home, and its exchange value.
Do you believe in art as an investment?
A resounding Yes! Art can be one of the best investments in your self-worth, your career by surrounding yourself with art that allows you to survive, and financially it can be one of the best places to put your capital in.
What is it that you find meaningful about art?
That allows me to remember that I'm part of a grander heritage which is humanity to find meaning, or a semblance of it, through art creation.
What can we change to make our American culture one that is more conducive to artists so they can create with ease?
To focus on the intrinsic value of art more and the artists that create the work. There's a certain sophistication in life that I feel we’ve lost. I don’t know what exactly to change or what exactly has been lost, but something has. The artworld is a lifestyle - a way of being - and we owe it to our artists to enable us to transcend the minutiae of daily life. But too often artists, I feel because of economic pressures, are forced to participate in a very unnatural state where they become creators and merchants of art which changes how art is created, their art. I honestly don’t know what to change societally so I focus on my immediate surroundings.
If you could have any work of art in the world, what would be your top three?
A Rothko, 1969 untitled that’s at the MOMA, Bacon’s Three Studies of a Self-portrait or his Portrait of Pope Innocent X, and countless Freud’s – one can never have too many.
What books should someone read if they are interested to learn more about art?
I like a lot of books written by Donald Kuspit about art, but I also think that reading books seemingly unrelated to the visual arts are important, such as the Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov: its magical realism will transform the way you see art.
Name two of your favorite books?
A Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell, and Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh.
When George isn’t traveling for work, he pursues nature and isolation in coastal Maine, the Fjords of Norway, and Baja, California. With three galleries across the globe and traveling far to meet with artists, it is apropos for Georges for him to take time to get away from it all. Whether Georges is traveling for business or leisure it is apparent as the acclaimed American fashion editor Diana Vreeland said:
The eye has to travel.