Daniel Boeri opened L’Entrepot Gallery in 2009 and it quickly became become one of the most forward-thinking contemporary art spaces in Monaco. Daniel is best known for embracing artists who are outsiders or mavericks on the art scene. In this exclusive interview with CityOut, he reveals the method behind his own ‘madness’.
In 2010 you opened an exhibition called Art Brut where you celebrated artists who were truly crazy or off-the-wall. This was another step in your personal journey to challenge the expectations of the typically ‘stiff’ art of Monaco. How did you emerge as the electron libre of the principality?
The easy answer as to why I put on Art Brut was a marketing fix. I needed to create a summer exhibition that would rival other popular exhibitions and featuring big-name artists. I simply cannot afford to exhibit Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, or others of that calibre. I am alone and create my own collection. Also, I desire to be different. I ask people to look at life not always the same direction. I urge them to be curious. I want to do the same with art and culture and Art Brut satisfied this urge in me.
You launched Open Des Artistes three years ago; a competition with Monaco Telecom to discover and promote emerging European artists. Tell us about the competition?
I came up with the concept and was lucky that Monaco Telecom helped fund the scheme. We have discovered over 200 new artists, many who may have remained little-known. An artist like our 2010 winner Michel Lavail is now getting many more exhibitions offered to him following his success. Last year our website received over 250,00 hits from around the world in 10 days as the competition opened to the public. I see this as an opportunity to open the mind of the world to the Riviera and its rich artistic seam. Next year we want to make the competition international.
Have you always been a rebel?
Yes. When I created my management consultancy company 37 years ago, I was able to travel the world serving many multi-nationals. That sense of movement and cultural change opened my mind. To this day my gallery carries the slogan ‘Open your mind’.
How does a business consultant become an art gallery owner?
When working as a consultant, many of my clients were large companies. Every festive season it became a struggle as a solo consultant to find a quality gift for my clients that they would remember. If I bought a client a bottle of champagne, there would be a bigger company that would buy them a magnum. If I bought a CEO a quality cigar, you could be sure another would gift them 10 cigars. So I sought to find the ‘perfect’ gift. I found the solution in art and commissioned local artists to create for me unique artworks that I could give to clients. Over time I build a network of young artists. This made it possible to fuse my business acumen with my contacts. I opened L’Entrepot Gallery in July 2009.
Do you think your business mind has helped your artistic mind?
As a management consultant I work across many businesses and sectors. I thought I could apply the principles of business to the gallery. I learned I could not. We had to create a ‘net’ to attract the art buying public. This was difficult, because the art world is like no other.
But surely this is a marketing problem?
Not only. Certainly communicating information to the public is about marketing. But to get a would-be buyer to come to my gallery is not a marketing problem. In my consultancy work, I have my reputation and my published books. In the art world I had to be known. At the start I was not.
Describe the Monaco ‘art world’ as you see it?
Monaco is mainly concerned by the recognized artists because thre are many big collectors. These people seem not to be interested in emerging artists or outsiders. This is why what I try toachive is difficult to balance with art sales.
But doesn’t this make you an important figure in this scene?
I suppose it does, but the big collectors still don’t come to me! I would like the big collectors to come to my gallery and take the opportunity to see something fresh. Perhaps they don’t want to buy, but to see.
L’Entrepot Gallery, 22 Rue de Millo, Monaco, 98000