When the opening of Pace Gallery’s new city flagship made a historic splash last year, there was no doubt its ambitions to continue to shepherd the contemporary art scene were more stout than ever. This summer, the gallery opens a small, temporary exhibition space in East Hampton. We check in with Marc Glimcher, Pace Gallery’s president, to learn how he is navigating the bumpy roads of our brave new world.
Pace Gallery’s NYC flagship
How has the art world evolved over the years?
Art is speaking to a larger and larger audience now; it is playing a more central role in our culture. We have almost a million Instagram followers but only 800 clients. That’s saying something about it.
What’s the role of an art dealer in this ever-shifting landscape?
We are hired by the artists to sell their work... to protect their legacy. That’s the greatest job you can ever have. I see myself as working for the artists. And everybody feels quite connected to them right now. The way we’re all living, that’s the way they live. That’s how they’ve always lived, locked up in their studios alone, not knowing if the world cares or doesn’t care... laboring away at this thing and having to stare at a blank canvas, which is like a mirror. We’ve got a little taste of their life recently, in a way.
Pace Gallery President Marc Glimcher
With so many art fairs on a hiatus, how do you see the role of a gallery?
Today, the mechanism by which we get to connect to the artist has been cut off because, as much as we try with our online and virtual art world, artistic encounter is a real-life experience. Going to enjoy and participating in the arts is really difficult for large institutions in this really low-capacity way dictated by social distancing. Galleries are the only entities that can support these low capacities because our business model doesn’t depend on huge numbers. We can afford to start getting people back together with art in a very careful, very safe way.
What propelled your decision to open in East Hampton?
It all goes back to my job with the artists, and that’s to sell their work. That’s first and foremost and nothing to be ashamed of. The good side benefit is that not only is the East End full of art collectors, it’s also full of artists and curators and writers and so on. ... There’s a chance to interact with very interesting people out here.
Torkwase Dyson, Drawing/collage for sculpture for Bird and Lava project, 2020
You are opening with a showing of the sweetly sinister work of Yoshitomo Nara.
It was the show we were going to have in the summer on our seventh floor. We’re going to have it out here first, then we’re going to show it in the city. We are bringing the shows and the artists we were going to do some projects with like Torkwase Dyson, who just won the Studio Museum award. We want to bring people in to see her work and talk about it.
Yoshitomo Nara, “Play the thinker” (2020, acrylic and colored pencil on cardboard), 12 11/16 inches by 12 3/4 inches.
How do you address concerns about Pace’s arrival from galleries that have been here for a while and are not leaving after the summer?
The galleries always support each other. We always end up in the same neighborhood for a reason. The more galleries there are, the more reason there is to think about art.
To what do you attribute Pace’s success?
We all are very lucky because we have a lot of history. And we’ve been working very hard for the past 60 years to make Pace more than just one person’s personality cult. My father did not call it the Arne Glimcher Gallery, and there was a reason for that. He never wanted it to be just about him. That’s why it is possible to go from father to son. Although we have very strong opinions about the things that we are very passionate about, this gallery is more than just our passion.
Pace’s temporary space in East Hampton is open through Columbus Day weekend.
Photography by: From Top: Thomas Loof/ Courtesy of Pace Gallery; Portrait by Axel Dupeux; Torkwase Dyson© Torkwase Dyson/ Courtesy of Pace Gallery; Yoshitomo Nara Photo© Yoshitomo Nara/ Courtesy of Pace Gallery; East Hampton Photo by Sylvia Muller/Courtesy of The Mill House Inn