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Post COVID-19, Will Contemporary Art Come Back Stronger than Before?

A conversation with Bernard Markowicz, owner of Markowicz Fine Art

Courtesy: Ph. Adrien Rapaport

Your career started from IT. You founded the MK informatique. You were able to insert it in to the French Stock Market in 1999 while managing more than 200 employees, and then, you sold it for more than $3 million to CROSS SYSTEMS in 1998. Why did you decide to start a new life in contemporary art at this point in your career?

I have been collecting art since I was 18, and I always kept up the hobby. I became friends with the owner of Opera Gallery—Gilles Dyan, and then I partnered with him when he decided to open galleries in New York’s Soho neighborhood in 1997 and in Miami in 2001.

Why did you found your art gallery?

I was first a partner with the Opera Gallery in New York and Miami, but 10 years ago, I decided to create my own gallery to start a new kind of relationship with artists.

Why did you decide to move to Miami?

I always had the American dream in mind. When I sold my company, I took the opportunity to move with my family.

When did you start being a collector?

I bought by my first artwork when I was 20, and it quickly grew into a passion.

What was the first work of art you bought?

A piece by Alain Godon.

Do you still own it?

Yes, I do still own it and many others I bought over the years. We are even preparing a show with Alain Godon in Dallas for 2022.

Courtesy: Ph. Adrien Rapaport

Why did you decide to open a second gallery in Dallas?

The Dallas Design District acquired a giant sculpture by Idan Zareski from us, and while visiting the location of the sculpture, I fell in love with Dallas and the people there.

Your headquarters is still in Miami, which hosts the most important contemporary art week in the world. Why is the art week in Miami so successful?

Suddenly, in one week, all major collectors and art curators from all over the world converge in one place. It's a crazy, intense week. Some years, I organize one event with a different artist every night of the week in addition to the art fair.

How much does the online market affect your business?

It really depends on the artist you represent. Artists who already have notoriety online can play a major role if it's part of the artist's strategy. That’s not always the case though.

Among others, which artists do you represent?

Kai, Alain Godon, Carole Feuerman, Arno Elias, Reine Paradis.

How do you look for or find the artists you want to represent?

There are no rules. It comes down to research and luck...

Courtesy: Ph. Adrien Rapaport

How are you working through these months of immobility and limited activity?

I have been preparing for future shows, keeping in touch with collectors and artists, looking for opportunities, and taking care of family.

When COVID-19 ends, what are your expectations for the art market?

It will be different, I think. People will travel less for a while before their confidence will come back. We are looking to do popup events in some cities as a different way to communicate and also to have people do more private appointments than big openings. I was never a big fan of big openings for different reasons, and COVID-19 is triggering a change that was bound to happen.

How will the experience of COVID-19 change the way an art dealer works?

Well, we cannot rely on foot traffic anymore. Expensive rent prices for retail places was already a challenge, and it will be more and more in this economy. Before rent prices become reasonable again for independent retailers, we need to find other ways to meet collectors.

Courtesy: Ph. Adrien Rapaport


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