Cultured Magazine

June/July 2015

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Whatever one's preconceived notions might be of Richard Taittinger, (yes, that Taittinger), one conversation with the newly minted art dealer—who earlier this year opened his own gallery, Richard Taittinger Gallery, an eponymous space on the Lower East Side of Manhattan (formerly the Living Room music venue, a hold-out in the swiftly gentrifying neighborhood)—assails any notions that his interest in contemporary art is anything but sincere. Indeed, Taittinger is an animated devotée to his chosen calling, demonstrating an articulate, doggedly passionate perspective on what contemporary art ought to accomplish— and what makes for relevancy in today's hyper-saturated marketplace. "Great contemporary artists do more than make something beautiful," he says. "They are guides—they help us understand the spirit of our time." Case in point: "Heaven Carrier," his recent exhibition by the Russian artist duo Recycle Group, addressed the fervor that society attaches to technological trappings, argued that technology—particularly social media—has become a modern day religion. Awash in biblical references vis-a-vis Renaissance iconography, the series of polyurethane rubber busts and bas reliefs made of three-dimensional mesh made for compelling and at times drole fodder, a combination Taittinger finds a prerequisite for success. "A good artist today is able to mix strength and humor—if you don't have any humor, you stop being a contemporary artist." White mesh figures dressed in draped garments raise their hands aloft, searching for cell service in a post-apocalyptic landscape of downed service towers. A fractured "F," à la Facebook, presides over the space like a giant cross perched on a church altar, and features the engraved terms of Facebook and recalling the fractured tablets of the Ten Commandments." Though New York has become this self-professed "anti- Parisian's" new home, Taittinger laid the foundation for his new career path in France. "I would go to the auctions at Hôtel Drouot, looking for treasures," he says. At age 30, after working in the family business, he returned to school, receiving a master's degree from Christie's and subsequently, working for Phillips de Pury, Almine Rech and lastly, as an art advisor. "I used to put together salons in my SoHo living room," he says of the seven-year preparatory phase before opening his gallery. "It took longer than I thought, but here we are. New York is a place for dreams." The relationships Taittinger has cultivated have been with a largely international roster of artists and a diverse mix of ages. "I don't like the idea of collecting according to flags," Taittinger says. His current exhibition, "Come Midnight," is a solo show by Turkish artist Haluk Akakçe that runs through June 21st. Akakçe, who was once represented by Jeffrey Deitch, hasn't exhibited a solo show in New York in nearly a decade. "The show will start at midnight—it is in homage to the way Akakçe works at night; he is like a bat," Taittinger says of the exhibit, which addresses the concept of transformation and flux, narrated through the prism of film, painting, drawing and sculpture. 100 CULTURED PORTRAIT BY BENJAMIN LOZOVSKY; COURTESY OF RICHARD TAITTINGER GALLERY PASSION PROJECT With an early exposure to collecting and years soaking up the contemporary market, Richard Taittinger is proving to be a provocateur in the gallery space. BY MIEKE TEN HAVE "Heaven Carrier" at Richard Taittinger Gallery explores the cross-section between religion and technology; at right, the collector-turned-gallerist

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