Last week, the Parisian gallerist Almine Rech announced that her son, Paul de Froment, will be the director of her forthcoming New York outpost. The news brought to mind another recent opening: Lisson’s New York gallery, where the second-generation dealer Alex Logsdail serves as the international director. His father, the British art dealer Nicholas Logsdail, co-founded Lisson in 1967, brought Alex into the business in 2009 and made him director in 2011. Logsdail and Rech are not alone: many major players, including David Zwirner, Arne Glimcher and Sean Kelly, have made room for their children in their businesses.
As the son of Arne Glimcher — the dealer who nurtured the careers of Robert Rauschenberg and Jean Dubuffet — Pace president Marc Glimcher now effectively runs his father’s international gallery. Schooled in molecular biology and immunology, Marc initially stayed away from the gallery at his father’s request, but found himself habitually returning. “At some point, if your parent is Arne Glimcher or Paula Cooper or Rudolf Zwirner, you have to confront two things. You have to come to peace with the idea that you’re going to do the same thing that your father did, and your father was pretty great at it,” Marc says. “You also have to come to grips with the fact that he started it from scratch and you are never going to do that. It’s an internal struggle that took me 20 years to untangle.”
Marc had to call in his longtime friend, Matthew Marks, to vouch for him, but eventually convinced Arne. “When my children were little, I said I’d support them with anything but coming into Pace,” Arne says. “If anything, Marc did this in spite of me. He has very much his own identity, and I feel at this point that I work for Marc more than he works for me. I’m very privileged.” Marc’s first assignment, a book on Picasso’s sketchbooks, eventually led him to start a publishing house of his own, called Second Sons.
Lucas Zwirner, 25, is attempting to do the same thing at the recently established David Zwirner Books, the imprint of his father’s namesake gallery. A third-generation gallerist, Lucas will inevitably face the same scrutiny his father endured in trying to outrun the legacy of Rudolf Zwirner, the legendary German dealer who revolutionized Cologne with artists like Cy Twombly and Joseph Beuys in the ’60s. “I look at it this way, the publishing house is this post that every artist passes through. Over the course of five years, you’ve probably worked with 80 percent of the artists in the gallery stable,” says Lucas, who studied philosophy and literature. (Lucas’s younger sister is now interning at David Zwirner’s pop-up bookshop, too.)
Communications departments are also a common entry point for art-dealer offspring. Lucas Cooper just recently left the music industry to help his mother, Paula Cooper, with press. And when Josie Nash started at her parents’ gallery, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, she worked in communications, though she has since graduated to associate director. Nash admits that she sought advice from Lauren Kelly, the daughter of Sean Kelly and director of his eponymous gallery — who was happy to share her experiences. “It’s definitely a learning curve,” Lauren says. “When I’m interacting with Sean, he’s my father first and foremost, but he’s also my boss. We’ve had to come to our own terms of what it means to be personal and professional.”
Any concerns the children have, the parents have twice over: Nepotism is a dirty word. “It’s incredibly complicated, because one has to wear all these different hats,” Sean Kelly explains. “One has to be a parent and a boss. You want your children to do a great job, but you don’t want them to seem enfranchised in a way your other employees are not. It takes time, but when you get the balancing act right, it’s incredibly rich and rewarding.” Kelly should know; both his children, Thomas and Lauren, have influenced the gallery and its ever-growing roster of artists. “When she first joined, I was surprised by how much she already knew,” Lucy Mitchell-Innes says of Josie. “Children know their parents better than anyone else at the gallery, so they know in an unspoken way the viewpoint and value system of the gallery. It’s not something that has to be learned.”
The phenomenon is evident across the art globe. The Brazilian gallerist Nara Roesler’s sons, Alexandre and Daniel, have helped grow their mother’s business into an international program. The Berlin-based dealer Max Hetzler’s son, also named Max, is still in school, but works at the gallery in his spare time. Tina Kim, who operates an eponymous space in Chelsea, has carried the legacy of her mother, Hyun-Sook Lee, from Seoul to New York. Cristobal Riestra, of Mexico City’s Galería OMR, recently transitioned from being a director to a managing partner of the gallery, with his parents Patricia Ortiz Monasterio and Jaime Riestra now taking a more advisory role. Art Basel 2016, on now, is the first fair Cristobal has tackled on his own. “I hope to develop the eye they’ve had, because I think it’s priceless for any gallery,” he says. “I also hope I inherit their capacity for change. It’s resilient to change, it’s how you stay relevant, especially in context of contemporary art.”Continue reading the main story