Interview with Max Mayer, founder of the gallery Max Mayer in Düsseldorf
The son of famous gallery owner Hans Mayer, Max Mayer opened his gallery in 2011 after having studied Art History and Curatorial Studies. His aim was to develop long lasting collaborative relationships with the artists he admired. And in order to do that, he at first decided he did not need a physical space. In this interview he reveals what he learned from his father, from his artists, and his thoughts on running a gallery after the financial crisis.
How did your father influence your career and what have you learned from him?
Both my parents influenced me in such a way that I knew running a gallery can be such a rewarding profession. There was never a feeling of being outside the art world and their circle of artist friends, which influenced me deeply. I learned from my father that it is necessary to make risky decisions when you believe in the artist.
What is the program of your gallery? What kind of art do you represent?
The program of my gallery is rooted in the Rhineland tradition and tries to connect it with certain international contexts and practices. I believe that a gallery should always do both: be first and foremost connected to your local discourse, and on the other hand connected to an international outside that shares similar ideas and values.
Can you give some examples by briefly explaining the work of some of your artists?
One artist that I would call a mentor in those concerns is Jef Geys. From Jef, I have learned everything when it comes to locating a program in a local context, with the freedom to apply these local narratives to contexts far away from his hometown of Balen, Belgium. He does it as an artist, while I do it as a gallery owner in Düsseldorf.
Please tell us about the space of your gallery and your decision to start your gallery without a physical space
Seven years ago, the decision to open the gallery without a space was influenced by a more curatorial approach to running a gallery. At that time, it was interesting to me to introduce the gallery more in a sense of how I work as a curator, and with less of a focus on the architecture of the gallery. After this introduction, it felt very important to mark a particular neighbourhood and have a constant space, which connects to certain aspects of the tradition of the white cube, is flexible, and is a reliable meeting place for people who are interested in our program.
What are the characteristics of the Düsseldorf art scene today and how has it changed over the years?
The Rhineland scene in general has changed quite a bit over the past 25 years. Once being a major concentration of discourses, it is now in an interesting state of being on the periphery, but with a considerable history. That leads to a slower -and sometimes more accurate- pace, which is fueled by an amazingly rich history that commands a relationship to any contemporary program and artistic practice.
What are the difficulties for young galleries today, and your strategies to overcome them?
I believe that everyone running a gallery that opened after the financial crisis of ten years ago faces similar challenges and I believe that we are still in the process of understanding the implications of these changes. The only option is collaboration, exchange and real conversations.
Can you tell us about your project for Paris Internationale?
At Paris Internationale, we will present a two-person show including a sculpture by Jef Geys from the body of work called “Schildwachten”, accompanied by three new paintings by Flora Klein.
Max Mayer takes part in the fourth edition of Paris art fair Paris Internationale, from October 17th to 21st, 2018.
Worringer Straße 64
40211 Düsseldorf, Germany
Tue – Fri, 1 – 6 pm
Sat, 12 – 6 pm