An art star who burns as brightly as the megawatt artists he represents, Emmanuel Perrotin founded his first gallery at the mere age of 21. Now, Perrotin oversees an empire of galleries in Paris, Hong Kong, New York, Seoul, Tokyo and Shanghai—making for an awe-inspiring total of 76,500 square feet of space dedicated to showcasing the work of modern masters like Daniel Arsham, Maurizio Cattelan, Otani Workshop and Takashi Murakami.
We asked the Paris-based visionary to paint a picture of his many passions—and sketch his forecast for the future.
What’s your favorite drink? Perrier-Jouët has always been an incredibly exciting, innovative Champagne brand. Utilizing grapes from the Avize and Cramant vineyards in the Champagne region—vineyards that still produce today, nearly 200 years later—the French house was the first to examine the virtue of delicate chardonnay grapes. It is also a pioneer in how it embraces cultural projects and collaborates with contemporary artists, and I consider it an essential actor within France’s artistic legacy.
A bottle of Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque 2008
What currently inspires you? After nearly three decades, I can say that my answer remains the same: my artists, my colleagues and the adventures that we embark on together. On Oct. 24 and 25 we held WANTED!, an adventure for contemporary art in the emptied nave of the Grand Palais! This project was an absolute dream. There was no VIP entrance, no price list; everything was free for the first one to find it. It is projects like this that continue to fuel me.
When did your love of art first spark? I have always loved art. I opened my first gallery at 21 in my own apartment in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris. I slept on the sofa and shared the space with Hedi Slimane. However, it began well before that. I still remember, as a child, that my parents would collect museum posters and decorate our home with these souvenirs from Europe’s most grand institutions. Today, that has still informed the way I approach my gallery: I firmly believe everyone should be able to leave my spaces with something that they can afford, whether that is a postcard or a museum installation.
What is your favorite shoe at the moment? I’m always astonished by what Daniel Arsham concocts with Dior. That partnership is absolute magic. I love the new B23 canvas high-top sneakers.
Dior Homme B23 Daniel Arsham high-top sneaker in newspaper print
What are you reading right now? I am especially excited about John Henderson’s new monograph, which was just published and is an expansive introduction to his rigorous painting practice.
What is your favorite gift? My fantastically talented wife just collaborated on a jewelry line with Sibylle von Münster. There’s such thoughtful attention to material present throughout the collection while the forms are startlingly delicate and elegant. They are available at Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche.
Sibylle von Münster x Lorena Vergani Sparkling Fragments Noor bracelet
Has this year shifted your perspective on how you approach your business? In what ways? Perrotin Viewing Salon has been in our pipeline for a while now and I envision it as a long-term initiative for the gallery. I am excited that Viewing Salon will continue to offer our artists an opportunity to create more editorialized, extremely focused exhibitions, and it is my hope that our platform will allow a deeper connection, especially within our local communities.
How do you hope this challenging year will transform the art world? In the beginning of my career, everything was a tactile experience. I still remember waiting for my fax machine to warm up so that I could receive a handwritten note from Takashi Murakami. A virtual experience, for me, will never be able to recreate the transcendental experience of entering a museum. That feeling is entirely singular. But, in a way, it offers something different and quite unique. We all must embrace flexibility and dynamism, and I don’t think there’s any going back to the old ways. Yet, we must not abandon them either.