- Address (2): 6150 Wilshire Blvd – Los Angeles CA 90048 / 5, rue des Haudriettes – 75003 Paris
- Owner: Rene-Julien Praz, Bruno Delavallade
Rene-Julien Praz (R) & Bruno Delavallade (B): Our new LA outpost is located on the Miracle Mile, 6150 Wilshire Boulevard. A midtown location, a stone’s throw to Beverly Hills and the Westside, and half way to DTLA, at the crossroad of Fairfax and Wilshire, next to LACMA and the Petersen Automotive Museum. We cannot dream of a better place. All collectors and art lovers know this compound, which has been hosting Marc Foxx Gallery and 1301PE, Brian Butler – a longtime friend – for over twenty years. On top of that, a huge parking lot is provided to accommodate all visitors. Ideal, it is a place definitely loaded with history and we feel privileged to be in this neighborhood. We did some building out in order to make sure the gallery entrance would be next to our colleagues, in the courtyard. It does make sense to play it collective, and therefore we closed the entrance on Wilshire. We feel pretty comfortable with this new space, and we enjoy the positive vibes.
R & B: It all started in the end of 1993. We opened a tiny place in the trendy district of the time, at the Bastille. We had no experience with the contemporary art world except that we were amateurs timidly starting a modest collection. One had to be extremely pretentious or naive, maybe both, to think of opening a gallery at that time without special knowledge, and not just the thin experience of the Los Angeles art scene we had as we were already staying regularly in LA for family reasons. I was a journalist/TV producer, and Bruno Delavallade was a PR guy for the pharmaceutical industry. At first, we did not allow ourselves the creation of an art gallery but simply a space showing designs of the 50s.
Very soon we had the feeling of going the wrong way, and after 16 months we stopped this experience. Inspired by the success of Bergamot Station in Santa-Monica, Bruno Delavallade asked some of his young colleagues to rally on the same site and, by doing so, he gave birth to one of the most successful projects—known as La Rue Louise Weiss, a hot hub for contemporary art located in the eastern part of Paris.
R & B: Praz-Delavallade is a contemporary art gallery established in early 1996 on the left bank of Paris. Focused from the very beginning on Los Angeles-based artists, the gallery has gained a reputation over the years as one of the strongest European advocates of the L.A. art community in Paris. Handling a roster of established and emerging artists (European and American), Praz-Delavallade is looked at as one of the most innovative places to have set up long-term links between the Angelenos art community and European collectors. At our first solo show on rue Louise Weiss we invited Jim Shaw with to do an amazing exhibition that was entitled, “I Thought of the Paris Show”. Prior to this exhibition, we had a curated group presentation with Benjamin Weissman, Raymond Pettibon, Mike Kelley, and Paul McCarthy.
R & B: Wow that’s pretty restrictive! Let’s say genuine, dedicated, optimistic, and wholehearted.
R & B: Oh dear, what would it be? More space maybe? But more space in order to handle larger projects without feeling frustrated due to restrictions or budgeting. The more we have, the more we want. This is an endless issue, but we would love to think big for the sake of our artists.
R & B: Again this is a tricky question! We believe in long-term involvement. We have been working over the years with talented artists including Sam Durant, John Miller, Marnie Weber, Jim Shaw, and Jim Isermann, and artists of the younger generation including Ry Rocklen, Analia Saban, Matthew Chambers, Brian Wills, Matthew Brandt, and Amanda Ross-Ho. We want to provide to our collectors with a serene and trustful accompaniment. Faithfulness is the key word.
R & B: When mentioning LA, we cannot help but think of the sheer wealth of images that the name evokes and how it portrays, with surgical precision, the pathos of this mythical city, where glamour meets vulgarity and highbrow culture, the mainstream. Only LA could rub shoulders with the sublime and seductive with repulsion: this city is a world of contrast. It was high time to show the European public the importance and the specificity of a city that had been the birthplace of such a broad scope of art and which had, for so long, lived in the shadow of its rival, New York. The artistic creation today in Los Angeles is seen as a model, an alternative scene that retrospectively transforms our perception of American art, by taking it beyond the theoretical and structural frameworks of identifiable movements. How can we ignore an art scene that gave birth to such an impressive roster of artists and which attracted new fellow gallerists? We’re not trying to weigh one city against another, but over the last few years LA has experienced an arts renaissance unlike anything that’s been seen before. Local collectors are so much more embedded in their art scene with a broader view than average collectors. They’re dedicated and supportive of emerging artists. The number of galleries has grown exponentially. The desert of the 50’s and 60’s seems very far away now. The offer is varied, young galleries are numerous, historical galleries resist, and medium size galleries find their way vis-à-vis the big ones. Los Angeles has become an artistic destination like London, New York, Berlin, or Paris, but with a special flair.
R & B: It is hard to push open the door of a contemporary art gallery when you’re not accustomed to it. Too often there can be misperceptions due to a lack of confidence or knowledge. Picasso used to say that art can be learnt just like Chinese. Everyone must exercise their eyes to learn better and understand what it’s all about. Open your heart, be curious, and don’t think that art is the prerogative of the social elite. Do not be fooled by the spectacular results of the auction houses in London, New York, or Hong Kong. Contemporary art is accessible to all, and a new generation of talented artists are offering you an amazing variety of works, styles, and prices that are easily accessible. You don’t need to be a billionaire to start a collection.
R & B: It is almost impossible to respond to your question but we, both Praz and Delavallade, have the same crush on the Austrian artist who used to be a protégé of Gustave Klimt, Egon Schiele. We love so much his drawings, noting the intensity in its raw sexuality. The twisted body shapes and the expressive lines that characterize Schiele’s paintings and drawings mark the artist as an early exponent of expressionism. We enjoy his daring and unconventional style against strict academia. But we’ve many more in mind.
R & B: Group shows are often more challenging. We can recall 2010’s “Shut Your Eyes in Order to See” , that featured 15 majors artists, among them Matt Connors, Ceal Flower, Josephine Mecksepper, Pae White, and Adi Sibony. In 2011, “Shake n’ Bake”, curated by Hard Hat and Balthazar Lovay, director of the Kunsthalle Freiburg. Many shows were related to Los Angeles, “Your History is our History” in 2013 as well as “Bloody Red Sun of Fantastic LA” after Jack Elliot’s novel and The Doors. In 2015 we showed 70 LA-based emerging artists at PIASA Paris, and in January of 2017 our inaugural show for our Wilshire outpost in, “I Love LA“. Lastly, “Over the Rainbow”, which runs from July through August 26th featuring 32 major advocates of LGBTQ Rights: AA Bronson, Nan Goldin, Jack Pierson, Catherine Opie, Zanele Muholi, Jean Genet, Phillip Lorca DiCorcia, Robert Mapplethorpe, Elmgreen & Dragset, and many more.
R & B: Provocative? I don’t know, but for sure, the most challenging decision was to open a sister gallery in Los Angeles.
R & B: The idea of opening an outpost in LA is 1) to promote LA based artists with no representation in Los Angeles and 2) to bridge our European artists with the City of Angels. We’re looking forward to showing Brian Wills in the fall, a young and talented representative of the Light and Space movement, as well as some French artists who will be represented for the first time on the West Coast: Thomas Fougeirol, represented in NYC by Lyles & King, Pierre Ardouvin, a major mid-career creator, who has recently enjoyed shows and a retrospective at The MAMVP Paris and the MACVAL, the Swiss artist Philippe Decrauzat represented in NYC by Elizabeth Dee, and the well sought-after Israeli painter Guy Yanai, represented in NYC by Ameringer/ McEnery/Yohe. Many more surprises will await our LA followers.
R & B: We seek to discover new things, talents, artworks, and artists previously unknown.
R & B: Advice is cheap. There is no recipe, as every artist is responsible for their own career. The only thing we could say is to be a warrior— but in a nice way. So perhaps a better word is knight. We think of someone honest, humble, and down-to-earth but still with determination. The art world is a very competitive microcosm, so you must be ready to endure and strive for the best. We believe in working hard, convinced that true efforts are always rewarded.
R & B: Having no scholarly education isn’t a handicap. Many artists are self-taught, and though they never received formal training, they fill this lack with a greater kind of receptivity, a deep and relentless commitment, and a fertile imagination. The wining trilogy should be talent, time, and tenets of faith.
R & B: The galleries’ framework has made a tremendous change within these past 8 years. It evolved so fast. We refer nowadays to a global market, with clients and collectors able to get ahold of us at the click of a mouse. There are fewer and fewer people in the galleries but more and more viewers on websites and social media. We need to reinforce our media presence and participate in major international art fairs in order to compensate for the lower rate of visitors. The time when collectors would come by and spend hours in the gallery is now over; everything is quicker and faster, which is the reign of immediacy. We have to provide a genuine service to collectors, advising them scrupulously while also looking out for the best interest of our artists. This is not an easy task, knowing that art advisors have partially taken over what used to be the “raison d’être” of an art dealer. Internationalization is in this case the key word.
R & B: The response is contained in your question. The biggest challenge has been the development of an international presence month after month. We did start early, long before the 2008 crisis, by opening a space in Berlin in partnership with our friend Suzanne Vielmetter. More recently, we conducted a series of pop-ups in Brussels with the support of our colleague and friend Paolo Vedovi. Our new LA outpost is a decisive sign of our desire to internationalize our daily activities. The major obstacles with being a medium size gallery are time, human resources, and financial means. We are often in an acrobatic situation to manage them all.
R & B: Because of the specific nature of our roster of artists, we’re international by presenting mostly LA-based artists in France and Europe. Today, we tend to open our doors to a newer generation of French artists, but it takes some time to start the evolution. Concerning the representation of artists, it has to be a true and sincere involvement from our end which once again demands time and alertness.
R & B: Introducing international artists into the mix has elevated our experience and awareness, leading us to a more accurate and professional handling of our business.We learn new things every single day, either through artists or collectors, and despite occasional troubled waters from time-to-time, we remain enthusiastic and with determination. “All things are difficult before they are easy.”
- Featured image on the top: Over the Rainbow – 2017
- Photos courtesy of the artist and Praz-Delavallade Los Angeles