Art in Dubai has never had more emphasis. This past year, the Art Dubai and Design Days fairs alone contributed US $35 million. The city is no longer a newbie in the art sphere. People are investing in art like never before and perhaps it will be in Dubai that you will uncover the next Picasso at one of its exhibits. But beauty, especially in terms of art, just does not lie with the beholder, expresses Guillaume Cuiry, the Director of La Galerie Nationale, a gallery specialised in original art furniture made by top designers representing the 20th century in Al Serkal Avenue. Luxhabitat talks to him about art as an investment:
1) What's your perception on collecting art here in the UAE? Do most people buy as an investment or for end-use?
GC: The investment rating is essential in any act of acquisition in the market of art. Only a few pieces of artworks could be considered as serious investment. After 40 years of experience, our customers expect from us the best advice. It’s a huge challenge for us. This is one of the main reason our clients contact us. A non-specialist is often troubled by all information he can catch on the web. Art is not pure speculation, it is an expertise. I have never proposed an art piece showcased in my gallery only as an investment, but we have sufficient experience to advise our customers.
When you really want to invest in art, follow the advice of a specialist. Aesthetic and emotional arguments are not enough. Of course when you can have the 3 characteristics in your piece: emotion, aesthetic and good investment, as an end user this will be the total paradise.
2) What are the parameters by which one starts collecting art?
GC: A collection start by a heart shot. Always. You meet an art piece, but, in fact, the art piece selected you. Then you discover the artist, his life, his work, his story. Then you'll learn his art and the art environment. You'll read books, visit museums, visit art galleries. An art lover quickly becomes an Art Connoisseur, then an Art Collector. At the beginning it is a must to be passionate. If you have the budget for it, try to buy an artwork done by a master artist with an official quote. If you have any doubt, please contact an expert before you buy the piece, not after.
3) What are some of the key points to be kept in mind while purchasing art?
GC: The key point is definitely to love the piece. It's not realistic to buy an artwork you don't like and see it every day, every week, every month or every year. This way, if one day you decide to resell the piece, the sale will be much easier. If you love it, others will love it too.
4) What have you seen in regards to buyer behaviours in the UAE?
GC: In my gallery, expatriates and visitors enjoy viewing artworks done by global international artists and they also love to acquire pieces from these artists. UAE visitors take the opportunity of a visit to discover artists only showcased in famous museums. That's not the same regard. The common trait is they have the same strong interest in art. Visitors are able to buy an artwork before any investment consideration, but when we are talking about price, the question is essential, in UAE like anywhere in the world.
5) You are a passionate vintage art furniture collector. What are the items that one can find in your gallery?
GC: I have a fascinating collection of original vintage art furniture designed by famous designers such as Marco Zanuso who was one of a group of Italian designers from Milan shaping the international concept of "good design" in the postwar years. There is also Jean-Pierre Laporte who designed the “Esox” chair, the first iconic piece he designed in the early 70’s. As all high level design, this armchair combines comfort and aesthetic. One is at the Beaubourg Museum in Paris. JP Laporte was very surprised when he discover that the other is in Dubai.
We also represent Alberto Giacometti who designed the Sculpture which is one of my favourite art pieces as it is the first and last stone furniture sculpture ever made in the world by Giacometti. Giacometti's work of the 1930s represents probably the most important contribution to Surrealist sculpture. Some were influenced by primitive art, but perhaps most striking were those that resemble games, toys, and architectural models. They almost encourage the viewer to physically interact with them, an idea which was very radical at the time.
Maybe only 50 20th century designers could be considered as iconic. That’s a few. Leaders for me are Jean Royere, one of the most prolific creator, Jouve for the elegance of his ceramics, Jean-Michel Frank and Dupré-Lafon for the quality of details, Serge Mouille for the design (r)evolution he did in the lighting like Raymond Subes, Max Ingrand or Jacques Biny. We also have to consider famous tryptic masters Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand and Jean Prouvé as the great promotor of industrial design.
From Mathieu Mategot to Raymond Loewy, Roger Tallon or Willy Rizzo, it’s impossible for any design lover to find a style with great character. I would like to suggest all readers of this article to go on the web and study their work.
Images courtesy: La Galerie Nationale