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GALLERY OWNER IN AN INTERVIEW - Gerd Harry Lybke, Director GALERIE EIGEN+ART

In 1983, Gerd Harry Lybke founded his first gallery in Leipzig. A few years later he opened his second in Berlin and became a "global-player". He represents some of the most successful German artists like Tim Eitel, Jorg Herold, or Neo Rauch. Words have it, that even waiting lists for their art works exist…

Artfacts.net: Herr Lybke, not many galleries celebrate their twenty-third birthday. What is the secret? What differentiates your gallery from the others?
GL:
An important difference you already mentioned. Eigen+Art has existed for over twenty years, and is still one of the leading galleries in the contemporary area. And that not only as short-term marketer, but we guide artists long-term. That is our secret. We're very effective in our work with our artists. The coworkers, our gallery's team, is the second secret. The team is just as effective and also around for as long. Our gallery works for the artists, and not the artists for the gallery.

Artfacts.net: How do you find the artists you represent? Do they come to you in the gallery?
GL:
It's really like the motto, "We'll call you, don't call us." We have been in the business so long, and I do nothing else than to go to studios, and be at art fairs and to browse. Therefore I am seeing the new things which are to come, I am following the trends, and I am trying to pick-out the best things for me. I go to art schools, too, however, I don't pick-out anyone from art school. Instead I wait a few years after school, to see how the artists have developed.



Birgit Brenner
"Installation "Die besten Jahre" in the Galerie EIGEN + ART Leipzig
Wood, cardboard, print, acrylic, marker, wool, nails
variable, 2005
Photo: Uwe Walter
courtesy Galerie EIGEN + ART Leipzig/Berlin


Artfacts.net: What kind of relationship exists between you and the artist?
GL:
Five or six years pass before we work together with an artist. We look at the whole situation very, very long, before we really make the next step to work with someone. But then we stay with the artist and represent him exclusively. The artists become represented exclusively by Galerie Eigen+Art, even though they naturally have exhibitions in museums and art clubs. We always try to find another gallery in the world to work with, but not more than one. But independent of whom we work with, we stay exclusive representatives of the artists, also if we work together with other galleries, institutions, and so on.

Artfacts.net: What roll do the fairs play?
GL:
For me fairs are first a commercial platform for the artists' newest work. It is not just about the sale. If I am at a fair, I must already have earned the money that the fair costs – in advance. So that I can relax at the fair and act strategically wise by not trying to bring only the salable works, but more importantly by showing every artist's strategically best placable work, which probably will be the most current or one of the most current works. Whether or not they are sellable is a totally different question. I am doing public representation with the works. I show the work to a large pool of collectors, museum people, and Curators, and I must tailor fair participation just for them.



Jörg Herold,
Installation view "Zeugnisse und Schriften der Reise eines Dokumentararchäologen", in the Galerie EIGEN + ART Berlin, 2005
Photo: Uwe Walter
courtesy Galerie EIGEN + ART Leipzig


Artfacts.net: You're now talking about the art market. How is the art market in Berlin (and Leipzig!)? Is it true that the market is not growing here, like in London or New York?
GL:
The market is global and therefore overall the same. The few differences at that time are maybe that here in Berlin artists have the best conditions to live. Due to the low rents, and maybe due to politics, there is a liberal situation for art here. If someone is a global-player in Berlin, then this is actually wonderful. The market is global, so you have a fraction of everything and in addition you have this very pleasurable situation for art in Berlin. If you are not a global-player, and act only in your small area of the city, you settle in as a gallery, then Berlin is indeed the best place in Germany. But not as good as New York, London, or other cities. Then the gallery has to position itself globally.

Artfacts.net: So the art market is global. But is it efficient?
GL:
The information is global. The market is global. But what one wants to buy these days are the individual differences. Nobody wants to buy the "rightly made" art. Nobody cares about the way international art is supposed to look. But rather wants the art from e.g. Mexico, if possible from an Mexican person, so that one is able to understand why the one creating the artwork did it like he did. Meant are the questions about the artist's work, himself, and his biografy. The concept of the work is very important nowadays and of course the point of view of how the artist sees the world. The artist has to take a view, he has to have a place of rest where he is coming from. He has to be understandable, he should do his art out of himself, his artwork should be unique, tracable to the artist – only to this one person.



Yehudit Sasportas,
"Night recording, black ants", drawing, ink marker on paper, 158 x 200 cm, 2005
Photo: Uwe Walter
courtesy Galerie EIGEN + ART Leipzig/Berlin


Artfacts.net: You already mentioned that information is global. But a point often critizised is that information is not that easy to obtain and that only insider get informations at an early point. Would you agree that a certain degree of transparency is missing?
GL:
Well, I don't know. If we sell an artwork, we first offer it of course to people we think are important, so that the artwork will likely be placed in a collection. So if one is in the wonderful situation that one has an artwork everybody wants, and further is as a gallery in the strong position to choose to whom to sell it, one will sell the work very calculated. A gallery owner who looks beyond his own horizon and into the future has to be thoughtfull about who he is selling his artwork to. So that he doesn't just sell art to somebody who has money and speculates with it.

Artfacts.net: What role does the internet play in finding information about the market?
GL:
I think it is good that you can be globally informed anytime and can make comparisons, like you can at fairs. But the internet cannot be a substitute for seeing the actual work. But for comparisons, this medium is of course wonderful.

Artfacts.net: What do you think of the Artfacts Artist Ranking, which measures the attention an artist receives?
GL:
One likes to look, but if you want to discover something new, the ranking is too late.

Artfacts.net: Herr Lybke, thanks so much for the interview.
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