The Montreal Gazette profiles Robert Landau and his wife Alice who got into art dealing from the fur business. Often cited as the dealer with the best stock at fairs around the world, Landau is conscious that his style of dealing is becoming rare:
“A new generation of contemporary art dealers has sprung up, but they don’t really own their own inventory. We own it. Most people can’t afford to do it any more. Most older dealers like Klaus Perls in New York, Jan Krugier in Geneva and Beyeler in Basel have gone out of business.”
Landau also tells the story about how he first went to ArtBasel:
“We set up our small stand not knowing anything about anybody or who was what, and we sold a painting by Tamara de Lempicka that I had bought privately. We sold it for $300,000 before the fair opened. The whole fair found out about it and suddenly we were on the map. Who were these people? How did they sell the painting before the fair opened? We were invited the following years for a bigger stand, and that’s how it went.”
Landau had a similar ascent at Maastricht TEFAF.
“The first year, we were given the worst stand, and every year we didn’t want to be there. The first four, five years, we were lucky because we managed to sell one painting. My wife didn’t want to go back, but we stuck it out. Now we have the biggest stand.”
Other art fairs followed — Art Chicago, Art Basel Miami and the Biennale des antiquaires in Paris, where, Landau recalls, his first year he was again allotted the worst space — the basement.
Former Montrealer at pinnacle of art dealing world (Montreal Gazette)