“I want the gallery to be anchored in Paris, to integrate into a social and artistic fabric”

Specializing in works by Calder, Fontana, Kooning or Soulages, the powerful New York gallery Lévy Gorvy moves to Paris on October 22, and inaugurates its space with an exhibition of the latest works by German artist Günther Uecker. Adjacent to the Art: Concept gallery, the place, located at 4, passage Sainte-Avoye, had previously been occupied by the collector and filmmaker Claude Berri. Interview with its co-founder of Swiss origin, Dominique Lévy.

You already have three spaces, in New York, London and Hong Kong. Why open an additional gallery in Paris, in the midst of the crisis due to Covid-19?

I wasn’t looking for just any space in Paris, but I wanted this one, which I already knew, which is neither too big nor too small, ambitious but intimate. When, in December 2019, Saint-Gobain, which occupied the premises, decided to leave, I began discussions to obtain it. But, on December 28, I learned that the chocolatier Valrhona had signed the lease. I contacted its president and convinced him to find another place.

To tell the truth, I had been thinking for years in Paris, where I have a pied-à-terre. With the opening of new foundations, the commitment of the Palais de Tokyo, we can sense a renewal. Where else than in Paris can we discuss art, philosophy or politics until 2 am? Not in the United States, where we go to bed early, we get up early. But I was worried it might not be commercially viable. For three years, the prospect of Brexit has served as a trigger. London has become an island. Quite the opposite of our philosophy. Above all, I don’t want to be seen as “the American gallery that is moving to Paris”, but I want this space to be anchored in the city, to be integrated into a social and artistic fabric. We will start very small, with a team of collaborators that we already have. Some will be shared between Paris, London and Zurich.

The new health constraints in Paris, the late cancellation of the FIAC, haven’t they made you hesitate?

The reasonable decision would have been to take a step back, but I would have shattered a dream. Of course, I read terrible things about Paris in the press, but all my French friends tell me that it is good to be in Paris, compared to New York. Even if coming to Europe from America is difficult, I am doing everything to get to Paris for the opening via Switzerland, where I will quarantine myself.

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