The art world cognoscenti have been taking much notice of late Soho gallerist Georges Berges who many refer to as ”the next Leo Castelli.” He was the art world gorgon in the 1970’s who discovered Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg and had put American contemporary art on the global map.
GEORGE WAYNE: How would you define or what would you consider to be your signature?
Signature is that energy and imprint left behind when you meet someone or after a lived experience with a family member, friend, or other. Signature is a primary element – as common wisdom dictates, you only get one chance to make a first impression, and that first impression is in many ways your signature. As a gallerist and art dealer, my signature is very important to me – I want people to feel enriched by their interaction with me in person or through one of my businesses at the Georges Berges Gallery or Berges Creative Group. I want people to feel heightened by the art, curation, and environment of my gallery, or by the act of buying a Picasso or Dali directly from me through my art-advising firm.
Signature matters. It is one of the reasons I chose to open a gallery in SoHo. To me, Leo Castelli was one of the most transformative art dealers of the last century. His gallery was not far from where the Georges Berges Gallery is currently located.Castelli made the buying of art in his gallery not just something to do, but something to experience, and that became his signature. I am very much attached to art and fashion, and like most dealers and artists, I am very much a visual person so I am greatly affected by the art I wear and surround myself with. I want everyone who comes to Georges Berges Gallery or interacts with Berges Creative Group to leave confident and empowered by the experience. What I do, what I wear, what I create, and who I am – is my signature.
GW: Almost four years ago when you first opened your Soho/West Broadway gallery, I told you that you were destined to be ”the next Leo Castelli” and I am happy to see that you have not been proving GW wrong on that notion.
GB: Thank you, im a great admirer of Leo Castelli, although I’m far from him he is someone to aspire to, the art world would be better served if we had more people aspiring to be Castelli. It’s been an amazing adventure thus far and as they say in the movies, I’m just getting started!
GW: Was it a conscious effort on your part to separate yourself from the new art gallery mecca in Chelsea and such environs?
GB: It was, I always felt it would have been the easy thing for me to do to just go to Chelsea – I wanted a place that was rooted in history. To me the 70s and 80s in SoHo was a transformative time in the art world – I haven’t seen any other part of New York even come close to replicating that. I also wanted my gallery to have a global perspective not just on art but everything directly and indirectly related to art – I see myself, personally and professionally in much the same way. So I chose SoHo almost as a tip of the hat to an era gone by – and I hope that when people visit my gallery, see the dynamics between artist and gallerist and the curations that they get a real sense that it’s a different type of gallery. To me, art should be accessible and transformative to everyone.
GW: Tommy Hilfiger is an avid contemporary art collector have you sold him anything? Or for that matter Donna (Karan) Calvin (Klein) or Vera (Wang) who are also noted fashionistas who are also avid collectors?
GB: In all honesty, I don’t necessarily disclose who buys art from me, art is something personal and special, as it should be, so even if I did sell them art, I couldn’t and wouldn’t tell you. I want people to know that any art purchased from my gallery or through Berges Creative Group are held under strict privacy and confidence, unless of course people publicly already decide to reveal their purchase.
GW: And the chic Soho sophisticated have been flocking to your gallery- isn’t Arthur Baker one of your prized collectors? And Jamie Dimon?
GB: I am a friend of Arthur Becker and hope to work together soon, he’s a very talented. Again, I try not to reveal too much of my collector base, I have had Jamie Dimon’s family in my gallery – I am working with someone near to him, we’ll leave it at that.
GW: You are always on the road scouring and scouting for new talent. Talk about your latest trips and some of your next big art stars being groomed by your stable.
GB: I was just in Mexico City for Zona Maco and have just returned from a trip to Paris, Lyon, and Cannes where I visited quite a few artists in their studio. I’ve been working with Eric Roux Fontaine in Lyon who’s paintings can only be described as magical realism – I love them. And I’m visiting a few other artists that I have my eye on, and of course reconnecting with old and new collectors.