Larry Gagosian opened his first gallery in Los Angeles in 1980. In 1985, he opened a space in New York City, showing Emily and Burton Tremaine’s famous collection. From 1989 to 1996, he managed, together with the legendary gallerist Leo Castelli, an exhibition space in SoHo dedicated to important exhibitions of post-war American art. In forty years, Gagosian has been transformed into a global network with 18 exhibition spaces, well known for their exceptional architecture and programing.
Opened on December 15th, 2007, Gagosian Rome is the American network’s first gallery in continental Europe. Located in a 1921 building, between Piazza di Spagna and Via Veneto, the space was designed by the Rome-based architect Firouz Galdo. Located in a 1921 building, between Piazza di Spagna and Via Veneto, the space was designed by the Rome-based architect Firouz Galdo.
Since 2007, under the guidance of Pepi Marchetti Franchi, the gallery has presented over 50 exhibitions, showing many of the greatest international artists. In recent years, the gallery has also cultivated important institutional relationships that have led to major exhibition projects in various Italian cities.
New Paintings, Cy Gavin
“For a gallery, the first target audience are the artists themselves. If you have a good “stable”, the market follows. ”
Pepi Marchetti Franchi. Courtesy Mutina. Photo: Andy Massaccesi
In conversation with Pepi Marchetti Franchi, Gagosian
What is your background?
I graduated from the University of Rome La Sapienza in Contemporary Art however with a thesis on American Nineteenth Century painting (Ah Italy!). This somewhat unexpected research took me to the United States, where I decided to continue studying, eventually earning a Masters degree in Arts Administration from New York University.
How did your career in art begin?
While I was studying in New York, I started a stint at the Guggenheim Museum. I ended up staying for nine years, the last five of which I spent working with the Museum’s Director on the international programs. It was there that Larry Gagosian found me and “stole” me away. But actually, my forays into art started much earlier. When I was seven, I visited the Museum of Roman Civilization in Rome. I decided on the spot that when I grew up, I would work in a museum.
How did the Roman branch of the gallery come into being?
I was at the Guggenheim in Bilbao for the inauguration of their magnificent commission to Richard Serra. Larry Gagosian was there too. Realizing that I was from Rome, he confided that he wanted to open a gallery there and that we should talk about it once back in New York. I didn’t really give it much thought, until, during a series of conversations, he explained his idea, which I found a bit eccentric. But I guess I couldn’t resist the greatest dealer in the world, and a few months later I was on board.
Tell us about the space you chose for your gallery and the surrounding area.
The space is a crucial ingredient in the success of the gallery: a large oval room in a 1921 building in the center of the city. Finding a space that lived up to Larry Gagosian’s expectations was one of the hardest parts. When I described it to him, he was a bit nonplussed at first – curved walls? Maybe I was obsessed with the Guggenheim? It actually turned out to be an exceptional container. Artists love it.
Why did you choose this city?
The city was an integral part of Larry’s plan. For years he’d been coming to Rome to visit Cy Twombly and realized that for artists, it’s a real heaven. Nobody would turn down an invitation to Rome, the opportunity to engage with Caravaggio, Bernini, Michelangelo. It’s not obvious, but for a gallery, the first target audience are the artists themselves. If you have a good “stable”, the market follows.