San Francisco-based Berggruen Gallery is presenting a special “pop-up” exhibition space in East Hampton this summer. A curated selection of Modern and Contemporary paintings, sculptures, and limited-edition prints will be on view through Thursday, September 30.
We caught up with gallery owner John Berggruen about his eponymous gallery, “pop-up” East Hampton location, summer programming, and more.
You first opened your eponymous gallery in downtown San Francisco in the spring of 1970. Since then, your gallery has presented over 800 major exhibitions, and taken part in prominent art fairs such as Art Basel Miami Beach. What drew you to the art world?
JB: I grew up in San Francisco. In my early twenties, after graduating from college, I went to Paris to reconnect with my father, Heinz Berggruen. He owned a small, very active gallery in Paris. I ended up spending some time there, before working for a gallery in London for a year and a half. I then moved to New York City, where I worked for the Perls Galleries, and I got to know many interesting people, among them, Alexander Calder. It was a fortuitous time to be working in the art world. In 1969 I moved back to San Francisco and opened my own gallery the following year. I began with a rather comprehensive exhibition of original prints by Joan Miró. I was fortunate to meet great friends, clients, and artists along the way, and have been able to continue doing what I love to this day!
What was the first piece of art that you acquired?
JB: While it may not be my first acquisition, one of the most memorable works that I collected in the early days was purchased while visiting the Basel Art Fair in Switzerland. I bought a small pastel by Wayne Thiebaud. I did not know him personally at the time, but this early acquisition stands out to me because it began a lifelong relationship with the artist. Collecting and exhibiting his work, along with getting to know him closely as a friend, has been a great joy in my life. The small pastel is still a part of my collection today and hangs in my home in San Francisco.
Why did you feel that now was the right time to have a presence in East Hampton?
JB: There has always been a great community of collectors in the Hamptons. Of course, many people have recently relocated to this area for longer than just the summer, and there is now a very active group of collectors from Manhattan and beyond. I am very fond of the programming at the various institutions including Guild Hall and the Parrish Museum, and there is now a wonderful community of international galleries, particularly those that have popped up along Main Street in East Hampton. I have spent quite a few summers with my family in East Hampton, which was always so enjoyable. It is a sentimental place for us. For so many reasons, we are happy to be here!
Tell us about some of the artists represented by Berggruen Gallery that will be featured at the “pop-up” exhibition space?
JB: This summer we will be featuring a diverse group of internationally acclaimed artists, including renowned Post-War American painters like Richard Diebenkorn, Helen Frankenthaler, and Wayne Thiebaud, as well as many important contemporary artists such as Diana Al-Hadid, John Alexander, John Currin, Isca Greenfield-Sanders, Paul Kremer, Tom McKinley, and Jonas Wood. I am so excited to present such a breadth of work—transcending subject matter, composition, medium, and technique—for the summer of 2021 in East Hampton.
What does Berggruen Gallery have planned for the summer?
JB: We have opened with a group exhibition that includes works by each of the above artists. We additionally have shows planned with Julian Lethbridge and Carl Andre in July, and John Alexander in August. More details forthcoming!
Who are some of the artists and pieces that are inspiring you at the moment?
JB: I have been inspired by the ingenuity of our artists over this past year. We have some wonderful new paintings by John Alexander, Isca Greenfield-Sanders, Paul Kremer, and Tom McKinley, among many others. I am delighted to see their continuing talent.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
JB: The gallery is located in the heart of East Hampton Village at 55 Main Street. Berggruen Gallery’s special “pop-up” will be on view through September 2021. Hours: Monday and Tuesday, by appointment; Wednesday through Sunday, from 11:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, visit www.berggruen.com.