Brigitte Mulholland on opening her gallery in Paris and giving to the city

Installation view, 2024, Brigitte Mulholland Paris, France

By TIBO V.-DUCIMETIÈRE April 23, 2024

Paris feels like it’s on the verge of a little renaissance these days. As the city prepares for the Olympics, it’s also absorbing the energy London left behind after Brexit, gradually building a position of cultural capital of Europe.

It’s in this context that many artists and galleries are settling here, including Brigitte Mulholland, former Senior Director at Anton Kern, who recently opened her contemporary art gallery on the renowned rue de Turenne.

A dark teal storefront entirely renovated for the occasion, right across from Perrotin and the unique neoclassical church of Saint-Denys-du-Sacrement (you can’t really miss it).

We met up a week after the inauguration of April 13th. I was naturally curious about a New Yorker opening a new gallery here, especially one 5 minutes away from home — and the energy that night felt like both the results of months of hard work, and the realisation of something the Parisian art scene had been awaiting.

Installation view, 2024, Brigitte Mulholland Paris, France

“It’s a very weird time in the art world and the art market, so I wanted to do something kind of big and different.” “People are constantly talking about mega galleries opening their branches here and this influx of money or energy or capital. But my feeling is that – the way some people speak about what’s happening here, there’s a sense of taking something from Paris and this current hype or moment or what not – but I want to give something to this city. That’s really my impulse here. I had a lot of people coming up to me at the opening that said ‘You usually have to go outside of Paris to see those kind of artist names’. That’s exactly what the intention was behind this gallery: to bring my vision and networks of artists to Paris because I know Parisians like those artists too. And the reception has been very nice, some people were like ‘Oh my gosh, color!'”

“Le vernissage, partie un” (“The opening, part one”) showcases an amazing and eclectic curation of 26 artworks from different artists. It’s sometimes funny and festive, sometimes serious and beautiful – overall harmonious, personal and hard not to love. It’s also a bit friendlier than what’s in the many white cubes around, like the vintage Chesterfield that sits in the back living room of the space attests.

Installation view, 2024, Brigitte Mulholland Paris, France

“I think the first two shows are really just an expression of my taste. I could have just called it ‘Here’s shit I love’ — to introduce myself to the city and give some background about what I’ve done and what I want to do.” “I like so much. I’m obsessed with Rothko, Monet, modern masters… in terms of contemporary art, I love painting — I know it’s cliché, but I love the smell of fresh oil paint, especially when you open a shipping box. I also get into fucked up installations, and films. It’s really based on feeling. Sometimes I love art that is just easy, happy, and beautifully made; and sometimes something will get under my skin and I’ll ask ‘wait, do I love this or do I hate this’?”

“I believe in art and I believe in artists and I know I’m good at putting up shows and putting it in front of people. I’ve been doing it for so long that Inhave collectors that really trust me, my taste, and my eye. Now I feel very lucky to be able to do that for the artists that I believe in and that I get to choose.”

Installation view, 2024, Brigitte Mulholland Paris, France

An impressive number of artists, collectors and friends flew in from all over for the opening and the office is still filled with flowers from last week. It somehow doesn’t feel so recent though as everything around is nicely done and thought of.

“I’m from New York and I worked in the art world there for 18 years. I spent almost 8 years working at Anton Kern Gallery, where I ended up as Senior Director. I worked there a long time. And… I reached a point where I felt like I had done everything that I could in New York.”

“Having my own gallery had always been a dream, living in Paris had always been a dream, and people said to me enough times ‘When are you gonna open your own gallery in Paris?’ — that it started to sound like the thing I should do, doesn’t it? I thought I would be on a longer timeline but something over the summer told me ‘You gotta to do it now’ and I pushed for that.”

Installation view, 2024, Brigitte Mulholland Paris, France

As to why Paris in particular, it felt like an evidence for Mulholland who had to count how many times she visited to apply for her visa: 45 times since 2008. Which surely qualifies for francophile.

“The quality of life here is different and people still appreciate nice things — it’s more thoughtful. If you go to a gallery in New York you can walk in, look around and just walk out. But here I noticed that people stay and look, and I really like that.”

Installation view, 2024, Brigitte Mulholland Paris, France

“New York is also very saturated with galleries and recently has just gotten very expensive and hard to live in. Paris has a lot of amazing galleries but not as many as New York does, and not as many as London does. But this city has so much history and so many historic, especially female gallerists like Ileana Sonnabend — and I want to bring that back a little bit.”

“I know collectors here, in New York, and all over the world. But in Europe it’s a different sensibility in some ways. They are thoughtful, they take their time. They’re never in a rush and they do their research. I really appreciate that level of care.”

Installation view, 2024, Brigitte Mulholland Paris, France

Brigitte Mulholland’s new space feels poised to become an influential contributor in the global art scene in the coming years with a foot in Europe and another in America. “New York and Paris have a love for each other and the intention was also to be a bridge for the two cities. I guess it’s kind of in my name too!” WM

Brigitte Mulholland
81, rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris
“Le vernissage, partie un” is on until June 1st


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