David Blum | “Stay true to yourself. NYC and the art world can chew you up and spit you out."
By Michelle Laver
December 5, 2021
NEW YORK, NEW YORK!
It doesn’t matter where you are from, New York has an identity, it has charisma, it has a presence. And a huge part of that is its creativity. It is a place where we just keep coming back.
The city that never sleeps is one of the busiest urban centres in the world. Every newcomer who has ever arrived with a cultural suitcase has contributed to the sounds, tastes and textures of New York.
But it is their dreams which built the city. A city like no other.
One of the most inspiring things about the cultural life in New York City and specifically concerning visual art is that there’s just this extraordinary amount of incredible organizations.
It is one of the most vibrant cities in the world because it welcomes different worlds of art. This is why we need to hold various communities in a space of caring and light.
Not only is it about promoting visibility but creating a space where people can safely come and see themselves reflected in the artwork. It also shows people that there is more to life than they see.
The communities within New York are driving people to reveal how art gets made, who makes art, and why?
One creative who had the same vision in mind was Peter Blum and his son David. By giving artists a space that they could call home, the duo joined hands and after six years David Blum – the now official director of the gallery, has changed their New York space into something extraordinary.
Today the gallery has been around for close to 30 years.
David Blum has always felt a deep passion for the art industry. After graduating with a BA in art history and psychology at Clark University the 35-year-old claims that the overall subject has always been a thread woven within him throughout his life.
“I grew up surrounded by art. My father, Peter Blum, began his art career working for Ernst Beyeler in the early 70s, started Peter Blum Edition in the early 80s, and opened his first gallery in the early 90s. My childhood is full of memories of going with my parents to gallery openings, Museum shows, and artist studios.” – David Blum
With the weekend drawing the world’s biggest art fair, Art Basel Miami 2021 Peter Blum sits down with DDW to share why he thinks contemporary art fairs are important.
What does your business mean to you?
It means everything. It’s very personal as it is a family run business. I care very deeply for the artists that we work with and we try to promote their work in any way that I can. We are a small-sized gallery that works on a big time scale.
It gives us joy. It’s something that I am passionate about and I hope that shows.
Why do you think the concept of Art Basel or contemporary art fairs are important?
One of the main reasons is that you just meet so many new people. You can get so many new contacts from all over the world, especially from international fairs like Miami Basel. You do have people come to visit you at your gallery but this is just a great way to meet people you may never have had the chance to.
This year the people were very engaged and the response throughout, especially for Nicholas Galanin’s exhibition which was phenomenal. This presentation allowed people to discover Nicholas. We had so many people come by the booth and be like ‘who is this?’ which is a great reason to be here – to share his brilliance.
How many exhibits did you organize this year and can you tell us a bit more about the process for choosing artists displays?
In the booth, we had a solo exhibition with Nicholas Galanin which we were responsible for and in the Meridian section we held the Value of Sharpness exhibit.
Every year we have at least five-six shows, with every two months having a new exhibition. For example this year we will be having two shows with artists we haven’t shown before which will be mixed in with artists that we have shown.
We represent about 15 artists at a time and we work very closely with each one. The dedication for each artist is spread throughout. We don’t want to overextend ourselves so that we can give our time and energy to each one to try and promote their careers.
What do you think it means to be in the art industry in such a radically changing world?
I think it’s important. Art has a lot to say and I think it is very valuable for our society. It’s for people to express their ideas in various forms. This rapidly changing world will always continue to change and I think art will always be there with it and if it is not then I think society and culture will never be the same.
I understand why people are excited about the NFT world because it’s new. It’s not something that I am personally involved with yet. I respect it and definitely would like to learn more about it and see why people are interested. I don’t think traditional art will go away, I think there still will be a balance at least within this generation who may have grown up with just technology.
But it’s exciting.
If someone had never heard of your gallery or Art Basel before, what important things would you want them to know?
I would say that we have kept a very strong thread and identity within the program. It is something that we have been proud of. Peter Blum Gallery is a place that hosts younger artists – artists that may be within their mid-career as well as a few older artists. There is a conversation going on within both generations of artists. They are influenced by each other and I think that conversation is important for who we are as a gallery and we aim to showcase that.
Future goals for Peter Blum Gallery?
What’s coming up next? In January we will have an exhibition with Esther Klas, who is an artist we have shown since 2012. We will also have our first show with a young artist called Rebecca Ward in March. The second show with Nicholas Galanin in May and then in September we will have a show with an artist called Kamrooz Aram – that’s what we have in the pipeline so far.
What does the phrase ‘Don’t Die Wondering’ mean to you?
It means to take advantage of being here, be curious and continue to see things that either excite you or don’t excite you – you just never know.
“There was a moment when I was 14 years old where I’d seen an Edward Hopper exhibition at the Whitney. This was the first time I had realised that it wasn’t just a painting, there was something behind it – there is a story, it’s not just a picture. That was a real true breakthrough for me and my enjoyment in art. That is the reason I am here today” – David Blum