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Late last year, Dominique Lévy announced that she would be teaming up with former Christie’s chairman and international head of postwar and contemporary art Brett Gorvy to launch Lévy Gorvy. The gallery expanded to take up all three floors at 909 Madison Avenue in New York as well as a London location. In addition to continuing to grow its exhibition programming and publishing, the merger debuted a complimentary advisory service.
Earlier this year, the gallery showed the first-ever pairing of abstract work by Zao Wou-Ki and Willem de Kooning, followed the work of Seung-Taek Lee, a recent addition to the roster. On view now at their New York space through June 24 is “Diane Arbus: In the Park.” We spoke with Lévy in January, while she was in San Francisco for the FOG Design + Art fair for the first time, about her vision for Lévy Gorvy.
WHITEWALL: How would you describe the mission of the new gallery?
DOMINIQUE LÉVY: We’re continuing our passion for art, our love for the history of art, and our commitment to ethics and advising our clients in the best possible way. Our values are going to stay the same. The growth is happening within our building at 909 Madison. We now have three floors of exhibition space so we can do exceptional one- and two-person exhibitions, historical shows, or we can do three projects at the same time. We have an extraordinary flexibility to offer to the artists and estates we are representing and will be representing.
Where you can expect the change is our program will be richer, not for quantity but for quality. We recently announced Korean artist Seung-Taek Lee, for instance. Brett has traveled extensively in Asia so we are looking to have a strong presence there—probably not a gallery, but as a high-level advisory service.
And we have expanded our art fair presence. We really see the importance of going to see our clients—the collectors, the artists, the museums. We go to the art world; the art world doesn’t always come to us. We’re growing our outreach not by opening multiple spaces, but by going and presenting very well-curated, very thoughtful booths or events.
WW: In the announcement of Lévy Gorvy, you said you both were inspired by dealers like Leo Castelli, Peggy Guggenheim, and Pierre Matisse. What about how they work inspired your approach as a gallerist?
DL: I think these are people I’ve always looked up to and modeled my career on. I think that these gallerists, at their core, are art lovers. They live for the arts—it’s not a business it’s a life. I think they are committed to the art and the artist. They had incredible relationships. If you look at collections that have been built by these advisers, dealers, gallerists—call them whatever you like—they are among the great collections. The ambition is to follow the passion for the arts, the rigors of knowledge. That’s very much what we’re about. It’s not always what you see today in the art world. I’m a romantic! I think art can change the world.
WW: Your gallery has always had a large focus on historical shows, on publishing books and new scholarship and research. Why has that been important for you?
DL: It’s an extraordinary value. I think we bring first, I hope, joy and pleasure, then I hope we bring discovery. When you put two artists that have never been put together, like de Kooning and Zao Wou-Ki, for many people it’s a discovery of Zao Wou-Ki and a rereading of de Kooning.
WW: You grew up around the art world, attending fairs at even the young age of three. Given that art was family-focused for you, has that continued with your home life?
DL: I grew up with parents that loved the arts, especially my mother. Especially growing up in a small town in Switzerland, the art opened my mind constantly. Art is part of what allows me to be what I am as a human, not just as an art gallerist, but it shaped my personality, it shaped my open-mindedness, and it shaped my life. I couldn’t have lived without art around me. If I couldn’t have a work of art, I’d have a poster; and if I couldn’t have a poster, I’d have a book. I need my surroundings to be a constant quest or a constant stimulation, because that’s where I feel the happiest.
This article is published in Whitewall‘s spring 2017 Women in the Arts issue.