The French dealer Daniel Templon (*1945) opened his gallery in 1966, at the age of 21, in Saint–Germain–des–Prés before moving to his present space in Rue Beaubourg in 1972. This fall, Mr. Templon, now 68, is expanding his gallery to Brussels with an inaugural exhibition by the young Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota (*1972, lives and works in Berlin).
The new gallery is located on rue Veydt and offers a 220 square meter space. It will primarily be featuring artists already represented by the Parisian gallery. This inaugural show will be followed by an exhibition by the master of contemporary sculpture, British artist Sir Anthony Caro (born in 1924, lives and works in London).
Over the last 47 years, the gallery played an important role in introducing international artists to the French scene as well as promoting French artists aboard. According to the gallery’s archive, over 400 exhibits were staged in the gallery with works from over 300 artists. Mr. Templon is also an enthusiast in art pedagogy. He set up the Art Press magazine with Catherine Millet in 1972 and the Artstudio in 1986.
At the occasion of the opening, Mr. Templon sits down with us to talk about the idea of the expansion at a time when other galleries are closing down. With 47 years of experience behind him, Mr. Templon shares with us different views on the situation.
Selina Ting, Sept 2013, Moscow
Selina Ting [ST] : What motivates you to open a space in Brussels at this moment ?
Daniel Templon [DT] : In general, when a gallery opens a branch in another country or another city, the idea is to extend the visibility of their artists. I work with around 25 artists and none of them is represented by galleries in Brussels. Some of them such as Chiharu Shiota, Ivan Navarro, Philippe Cognée, Joel Shapiro or Anthony Caro have never been shown in Belgium, so I think it’s a good idea to open a second space in Brussels.
ST : The geographical proximity between Paris and Brussels, and the fact that you have been participating at the Art Brussels fair for more than 20 years… aren’t they sufficient for a gallery to maintain the two markets?
DT : The Belgian collectors travel a lot, they visit all the fairs around the world. But finally, they don’t come to Paris as often as we wished. Collectors need to see and follow the works and exhibitions of an artist before they purchase a piece. On the other side, for an artist, it’s important to show their work in different countries and regions. It’s a gallery’s responsibility to take care of the visibility of the artists. Brussels is a great choice for a French gallery. It’s close to Paris and the public is important but different from that in Paris.
ST : What are your observations of the art market in Belgium?
DT : The Belgian art market is very important in the sense that the Belgian collectors are very active, very well-informed and very advanced in their artistic choices. Often, they discover new works and fresh ideas before the others. There are more collectors interested in the work of young artists, so if you want to reach this group of collectors, you have to be close to them geographically. The fairs, the internet communication do part of the job, but after all, the galleries exist for the reason of showing their artists’ works, and for this, an exhibition space is still essential.
The Phenomenon of Expansion
ST : Is the geographical expansion more a tradition of American galleries than European galleries?
DT : No. I opened a gallery in Milan between 1972 and 1976. The contemporary art market was more active in Italy than in France in the 1970s. There was a real demand, a real interest for contemporary art. But then it was the time of crisis, so I closed it in 1976. But you see, I opened my gallery in 1966, six years later I opened the second space in Milan. The German gallery Konrad Fischer also opened a second space in New York in 1970s. So, it’s not something started by the Americans.
ST : Is it a heavy burden for a gallery to run two spaces at the same time ? Don’t forget that there are galleries closing down as well.
DT : Yes, but there are business that works and others don’t. There are artists that sell and others don’t. There is no business model to follow. Everyone is free to function in the way that they believed in. For someone like Gagosian, who has an imperialist vision of his gallery business, it’s his interests to open gallery spaces everywhere in the world. But there are also other galleries that are more strategic. The location depends on the market of gallery’s artists. Every gallery has its own history, there is no one model of expansion that applies to all.
ST : What do you think of Jérôme de Noirmon’s open letter on the phenomenon of ever-expending-mega-galleries and the Chelsea dealer Niole Klagsburn’s disappointment with the “gallery system” today?
DT : I don’t really share Jérôme’s view points. I could have also said that after 40 years, I wanted to close my gallery. But it’s my pleasure to continue the gallery business, to continue exhibiting in my two spaces in Paris, to open a new space in Brussels, to meet new artists, to travel and to participate at fairs. It’s a huge pleasure for me! The financial reason is an important factor but it’s not essential. Jérôme has worked with many important artists, so I don’t really understand why he closed his gallery. I don’t know Nicole Klagsburn personally… There are many reasons for a gallery to close. It can be personal or family reasons, or emotional reasons, or a question of ideology.
ST : What about the highly demanding financial commitment and the keen competition in the industry?
DT : The competition is getting more and more intense because the prices went up, because there are more and more people and money involved. Before, dealers chose their career because they had a passion for art. Today, it’s the economic interests that dominate in the gallery industry. The competition is tough because there is money to make. If there is no money to make, there would be no competition. Many dealers became dealers for the reason of financial return. I have nothing against making money. It’s a good thing! I don’t criticize people who make money, it’s only that the expansion of the art market brings more and more actors to the scene and they all come with different motivations and intentions.
ST : Here I am quoting Nicole Klagsburn, “In the 1980s and 1990s, you’d sell smaller things to people who had less money and they’d be excited—it meant something to them. Now, a lot of the younger collectors are like gamblers, they just want to make money from art. Some good people have been priced out. Others collectors are just confused.” You have witnessed the changes in the art world in the last 47 years, any comments on the changes of collectors’ behaviors in the last decades?
DT : There is no difference. The majority of collectors buy art because they love art. There are always speculators, of course. Just that the art public enlarged, there is a much larger number of collectors, some buy art to decorate their wall, some for social status, some for networking, some for passion, and then some for speculation… but speculation is a natural phenomenon, it doesn’t change the situation or system of the art! I don’t know the story of Ms. Klagsburn, so I can’t comment on what she said. The principles of the gallery business are always the same – promotion, exhibition, collection, publication, etc. What’s different is that there are more responsibilities, activities, art fairs. It demands more and more time and energy. It’s a 24/7 engagement.
ST : What about the mentality? Any changes in people’s attitude? Are they becoming more ambitious, even aggressive?
DT : The mentality is the same. It’s the same industry just that the constraints are different. One has to be more rapid, more vigilant, more international…
Back to the Begining…
ST : What motivated you to become a dealer in 1966, at the age of 21 ?
DT : It’s very difficult to give an explanation on my motivations at that time. There is an intellectual curiosity, a tendency for action, discovery and taking risks but always in the cultural domain. When I started my career in the art, I just wanted to be persistent with my choice and to do the best in my business. Maybe I was too young to start a gallery, I didn’t really know art; I didn’t have any money or any contact / network in the art market. But at that time it was still possible to start a gallery like that. The overhead wasn’t that expensive, you could survive even if you didn’t sell much.
ST : What were the other galleries in contemporary art when you opened your gallery ?
DT : There were two other contemporary art galleries – Ileana Sonnabend and Yvon Lambert in the Saint-Germaine district.
ST : Was there a turning point, a crucial moment in the history of the gallery that you recall in particular?
DT : When I was young, I had a lot of help from Leo Castelli. We collaborated in early 1970s. He trusted me and helped me to introduce the works of young American conceptualists and minimalists to Europe, such as Donald Judd, Richard Serra, etc. That was how the gallery became known in the early 1970s, which was a key moment in my career.
ST : Who are the taste-makers today?
DT : There are too many layers and structures in the art world today –the museums, the art reviews, the galleries, the auction houses, etc. I think that no one single entity can be the taste-maker but a mix of all of these. The auction houses or certain mega-collectors can fabricate the artists but the final taste-maker is “time”.
ST : Thank you very much!
19 Sept – 02 Nov 2013
Galerie Daniel Templom
13 A rue Veydt – Veydtstraat, 1060 Bruxelles
Tuesday – Saturday from 11 am to 6 pm