Fatally, these attract fewer major artists". Jean-Gabriel Mitterrand knows all about this evolution in the market, for he has lived through it. When in 1988 he opened his first gallery in the capital’s rue Jacques- Callot, the atmosphere was completely different. Having made his first steps at Artcurial, which was at the time not an auction house but rather a versatile space dedicated to art, the young merchant still believed in eclecticism. He exposed works by François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne who he had previously exhibited at Artcurial, as well as by their friends Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely, Marina Karella, Igor Mitoraj ... He renamed his gallery the JGM Galerie. François Mitterrand was the French President, and his nephew chose to remain discrete. Over the years new artists joined the team, yet nonetheless he felt that he had a problem with his image. To give himself a more contemporary identity, Jean-Gabriel Mitterrand moved in 2003 to the Marais. But the world of art was in the process of radicalisation and three years later, the new committee of the Fiac (International Contemporary Art Fair) rejected his participation after some fifteen years of presence. No doubt his unwavering support for the Lalanne couple, at the time associated with the decorative arts, partly explains this decision. The gallerist nonetheless remained optimistic, and went on to refine his selection of artists (Keith Sonnier, Tony Oursler, Allan McCollum, Richard Pettibone), exhibiting at the world’s other fairs and expanding in 2014. The same year, he surprised everyone in undertaking a particularly ambitious project. With the help of his son Edward advising him as artistic director, he created a 12-hectare park in Le Muy, half an hour from Saint-Tropez, in which sculptures by Sol LeWitt, Keith Haring or Tomas Saraceno are exhibited each summer. "Collectors can buy works, but this is above all a display window to show our know-how”. The project has been a success, and this year Jean-Gabriel opens a department specifically dedicated to monumental sculpture. Meanwhile, he has also taken the plunge and renamed his gallery Mitterrand. "I wanted to make the name last, and it will make it easier if Edward wants to take over one day”. Rendezvous in 50 years.
Dans le parc du Muy, une oeuvre de Tomas Saraceno.
Le galeriste ne se décourage pas. Il affine sa sélection d’artistes (Keith Sonnier, Tony Oursler, Allan McCollum, Richard Pettibone), court les autres foires dans le monde et agrandit son espace en 2014. La même année, il crée la surprise en se lançant dans un projet très audacieux. Avec l’aide de son fils Edward qui le conseille en tant que directeur artistique, il crée au Muy, à une demi-heure de Saint- Tropez, un parc de 12 hectares, où chaque été sont exposées des sculptures signées Sol LeWitt, Keith Haring ou Tomas Saraceno. « Les collectionneurs peuvent acheter les pièces in
situ, mais c’est aussi un modèle pour montrer notre savoir-faire. » Cette nouvelle direction porte ses fruits, puisque cette année Jean- Gabriel ouvre un département spécifiquement dédié à la sculpture monumentale. Entre temps, il a également sauté le pas et rebaptisé sa galerie Mitterrand. « J’avais envie de pérenniser le nom et c’est plus facile si Edward souhaite s’en occuper un jour. » Rendez-vous dans 50 ans.
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