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Testimony of a Partner Gallery: Agnez Art Gallery

Meeting with Nicolas Samson-Agnez, Founder-Director: is the pop-up gallery model the new solution to face the difficulties of the art market?

· Art Market

Could You Briefly Introduce Your Gallery?

Agnez Art Gallery is an itinerant contemporary art gallery. Without fixed walls, it settles everywhere in France or elsewhere. Agnez Art organizes its exhibitions as close as possible to the public to encourage encounters with artists and the discovery of their works.

This itinerant approach is not synonymous with working with our artists in the short term. On our website and our online gallery, each of our artists also has its own page and its itinerary is carefully indicated. Thus, during our nomadic adventures, collectors and amateurs can refer to it and contact us.

Homme de profil, by Isabella Kretzdorn, photo credit : AgnezArtGallery

Why Did You Choose this Travelling Gallery Concept? And How Do You Organize Yourself in Practice?

During my studies, I first discovered pop-up stores in England. As usual, we're a little behind... And it was only a few years later that various brands took this path in France, for example with corners in department stores, especially in the ready-to-wear sector. I thought it was a very good idea! It makes it possible to promote a new brand or a new product line, to feel the public's taste and analyze their reactions, while reducing investment and risk-taking.

This model can be perfectly suited to the world of art galleries. Thus, a few years after my experiences in a traditional gallery, I wanted to reproduce this concept of ephemeral address.

In practice it is quite simple. It's a question of finding available spaces for rent or finding places to welcome you. What's interesting about this way of working is the diversity of possible locations, sometimes very far from the idea of the "white cube" (editor's note: a square or rectangular gallery, with white walls).

What Consequences Have the Containment and the Current Crisis Had on Your Business? Has Our Atypical Model Enabled You to Better Resist?

Eventually, the consequences were quite small for the gallery. In fact, because of our concept, we had no problems related to a closed space.

It is sure that the very functioning of the gallery naturally fits in with an adaptability to face the coronavirus crisis

Beyond the nomadic nature of the gallery and long before the imposition of confinement, I had already strongly reduced the programming of exhibitions, wishing to give more time to writing and artist coaching.

The confinement therefore gave me precious time to move forward on these projects.
I worked as a specialized writer and, more concretely, on the implementation of a training program, mixing face-to-face individual exchanges and distance learning courses and content. I had this appreciated experience with La Condamine and I recently had very interesting exchanges with Le Garage and its team, focused on digital expertise. This way, we could extend the content of the training courses to themes such as digital marketing or online presence. Accompanying artists in these uncertain times makes even more sense!

Another important editorial project is the writing of an essay on the art market and its perspectives, through my experience as a gallery owner and my many encounters.

What Action Have You Taken to Respond to the Difficulties Encountered?

As for most of the actors, I have imposed an intense presence online and on social networks myself, as I was unable to organize direct meetings with our collectors.

Thus, I contacted most​ of the artists I work with most regularly in order to make a selection of works to put online, both on the gallery's website and on our partner websites. As a result, we have sold a few works online and notably with Artsper!

Exhibition "On n'y voit rien" with Claire Artemyz, photo credit AgnezArtGallery

What Would You Say to a Gallery Owner Who Doesn't Dare to Embark on this Nomadic Gallery Concept?

The nomadic gallery takes on its full meaning in the 21st century, offering the fluidity and agility needed now. We see this all the more so when an unforeseeable event occurs, such as the current health crisis. And even if we remain very positive, this crisis is far from over...

I therefore encourage any new passionate gallery owner to embark on this adventure of a gallery without address! This approach also contributes to the birth of a new generation of gallery owners, who do not focus solely on a neighborhood, a type of population, or a stereotypical place called a "gallery".

It is then a question of taking into account the difficulties linked to this mode of operation, particularly those of communication. It is more delicate to guide towards oneself collectors or curious people without a fixed address. Even if the art market is in full evolution, we are not yet at a total upheaval. Indeed, many collectors still do not wish to settle for a purchase on an online gallery, even among the youngest. Hence the importance of intermediaries and advice that gallery owners can give when buying a work.

Double-page article in the newspaper Libération on the "Life Drawing Marathon" organized in 2016 by Agnez Art Gallery in partnership with Life Drawing Montmartre

Can You Share With Us a Highlight that Has Deeply Marked the History of Your Gallery?

Finally, the highlight of a young gallery is undoubtedly its launch. It is the moment when you realize your ultimate wish, that of showing, revealing and sharing the work of artists selected through trips and studio visits. The Agnez Art Gallery's inaugural exhibition entitled "Gender Duality" took place in May 2015 in Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

Another great moment was undoubtedly the "Life Drawing Marathon", organized in May 2016 in the mythical Montmartre district. It was a great success and generated many articles in the press, such as a double-page article in Libération questioning the activity and profession of the model.

To conclude, I will say "Stay curious beyond the market", here is my approach!

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