Gary Nader is a breed apart in the art world. For over thirty years, he has been regarded as one of the most savvy and successful art dealers and gallery owners in the world, with a far-reaching influence that spans the United States, Europe and Latin America, all the way to the Middle East where he embraces his Lebanese roots. Nader deserves credit for helping to educate a vast number of collectors and art lovers towards an understanding of the values an historical importance of Latin American art. To that end, his latest and most ambitious project, thus far, is the creation of the Museum of Latin American Art.
Nader owns two of the largest gallery spaces in the world: Gary Nader Art Center, in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, boasts an exhibition space of 55,000 square feet (colossal in gallery-speak) and the recently opened Gary Nader Fine Art in New York, with more than 4,500 square feet of exhibition space. The inaugural exhibition last October featured the paintings, drawings and sculpture of the Colombian master Fernando Botero. Nader is an avid Botero collector and owns about of 100 pieces of the master’s work, which make him the man with the most extensive Botero collection anywhere in the world.
As a curator, Nader uses his razor-sharp eye to detect and choose quality and innovation. The same eye is ever- focused on choosing artists for inclusion in his personal collection. He brings his characteristic keen knowledge and scholarly intensity to everything he does. His publishing company, Nader Editions, publishes exquisitely crafted art books and catalogs.
This lucky correspondent who has been carefully observing Nader's ascent in the art world with a particular interest for years, recently had the opportunity to chat with him about all things art-related:
Rendering of the Latin American Art Museum (LAAM) designed by well-known Mexican architect Fernando Romero.
AZUREAZURE.COM [AA] / Gary, you’re of Lebanese descent, raised in Santo Domingo, by parents that owned galleries, so naturally you are following a family tradition to some degree.
Gary Nader [GN] / My parents collected Dominican and Haitian Art. My father opened a gallery in Santo Domingo when I was just a boy, and I would visit every weekend. I saw my first painting when I was 10, and it has been a joyride ever since. I opened my first gallery when I was 19, in Santo Domingo, and my second gallery in Miami when I was 23. At that age, I purchased my first work, and it was a collection of drawings by the Mexican artist José Luis Cuevas that I still own to this day. It’s the largest and most important collection of his drawings from the 40’s and 50’s.
AA / You mentioned you read a lot about art. What kind of art literature influenced your development?
GN / I started by reading the biographies of the great masters like Picasso, Chagall, Matisse, Da Vinci and Michelangelo. Over the years, I must have read about a million articles and at least 500 books about art. I now have a publishing company because of my love of books. Before the Internet existed, I published the Latin American Price Guide. It included a listing of every auction and every painting, the title, the size, the year, the estimates and how much the work sold for. Everybody in the business would ask for it. We sold over 20,000 copies.
AA / When did the idea for the Museum of Latin American Art start germinating in your mind?
GN / Over 20 years ago. When I moved to Miami, I noticed that no one knew anything about Lam, Matta, Botero, or Torres-García, to name just a few. When I moved to Paris in my youth, I began buying all the Latin American art I could find and eventually brought it back to Miami. This was a key to my success, because I was bringing the highest quality of Latin American art available. Now, all of those artists are represented in the top major museums of the world.
AA / How do you think Latin American art is perceived by the world?
GN / I strongly believe that Latin American art is still very much underappreciated, undervalued and not understood. That is why I want to build this museum because it will create a sense of much more respect. I want to tell our story and at the same time I want to give an opportunity to young talent to show in a Latin American institution because they are not going to get it from anybody else.
Gary Nader with Colombian master Fernando Botero.
AA / Where in Latin America would you say the most promising new talent is coming from?
GN / Some of my favorite artists are Brazilian. After that Mexico and the Mexican diaspora, then Cuban artists. For such a small island, they have produced an amazing array of interesting artists, and they are lucky enough to have found the support of the Cuban diaspora in Miami. Unfortunately, other countries are way behind. Colombia is coming close. Venezuela has its master, but no one has come out of Venezuela in the last thirty years, it's just amazing.
AA / You created your own art fair, Contemporanea, in Miami in 2002. What do you think of Art Fairs in terms of how they affect the market and the value of art?
GN / To be honest with you, I am tired of them. There was a time in this business when it was more serious; you had a few art fairs in Europe, such as Basel and a few others, and that was it. Now, there are fairs every other week somewhere in the world. If you are to fill 4,000 booths a year, you need to create a lot of artists, and it has created a false market and a false sense of what the real value and real art is about.
AA / What is the best way to become an art collector and to know the real value of the artwork?
GN / If you want to become a collector, you have to read a lot, you have to visit museums, you have to go to galleries, and make up your mind. Do not believe what every art dealer tells you. That this is going to be the next Basquiat or the next whomever… You do not have to buy the NEXT NEXT; you have to buy the one that is NOW. You have to form your own conclusions. When I moved to Paris, I went to the Louvre for two weeks straight from 10 in the morning until they closed. I did the same in every major museum in Europe and New York. I read the labels, learned the names, and I can probably recognize a hundred artists a mile away. You have to do the homework. The only way you can learn is by dedicating hours and hours to this.
Nader brings his characteristic drive and dedication to all his ventures, in the name of art. He believes wholeheartedly that he is making art history as he goes along, that without the collector; there is no art market. That he, and those, who care about art, are the catalyst of the art world. A breed apart, indeed. ■
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Tanya Capriles de Brillembourg
Tanya Capriles de Brillembourg: where art meets philanthropy.
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