"How do I find a gallery?" - the most frequent question that Maud Piquion is asked to answer. The French art manager gives workshops about the practical aspects of the art world, she lectures at international universities and coaches aspiring artists. Currently working at Galerie Thomas Schulte in Berlin, Maud can already look back on a successful career herself: Without having any experience in the art business, she opened her first gallery in the age of 24. A tough cookie. The real cause for her success, however, lies in her discipline and her charisma: Maud sparkles with enthusiasm - it's almost contagious. While we are having self-made blueberry pancakes and espresso in her beautiful top-floor apartment in Berlin-Neukölln, Maud told me about her move from France to Germany, her critical relationship with the past and her current projects. Find the interview below or click HERE.
all images by artfridge © Anna-Lena Werner
Anna-Lena Werner: Maud, you grew up France and after high-school you moved to Germany and studied business and economics. Why didn’t you choose to study in France?
Maud Piquion: I wanted some action...
Anna: ...and you thought you could get that in Germany?
Maud: For me, leaving my country meant to take action. I guess I was afraid of the freedom that I would have had at a French university. But I did go back again. After graduation I went to Paris and studied art history and acting.
Anna: Quite a change. How did that come about?
Maud: I had this idea in the back of my head since a long time. Basically, it was a continuation of my former education: I did 20 years of ballet and gymnastics as competitive sports in France. And up from the age of six I went to the conservatoire for music until I left France.
Anna: When you came back to Germany you opened AnyWay Galerie in Berlin. By that time you were 24 years old. Did you have any experience in the gallery business?
Maud: No, none.
Anna: Why did you want to open your own gallery?
Maud: I acted in some theatre productions in Berlin, but eventually I realised that I don’t enjoy only following the instructions of other people. I wanted to manage my own projects. Not as a theatre director, because then you have to tell everyone what to do. As a galerist, on the other hand, you are being seduced by the art and you want to support it. Fine artists already come with their own vision - that is a whole different aspect of co-operation.
Anna: Where was the gallery?
Maud: In Friedrichshain. A friend of mine had a cute space there, which he didn’t use at all. I asked him, if I could try to test an art project there and he agreed. That was the beginning - me only having 200 Euros on my bank account.
Anna: Where you prepared for all the German bureaucracy?
Maud: Not at all! I believe I had barely heard the word “taxes” at that time of my life. Really! I also had never worked with a computer before, I didn’t even have one, when I started the gallery.
Maud: I didn’t need it until then. A little later, a family member offered me a brand-new computer. I still use that sometimes.
Anna: Could you keep the gallery going?
Maud: Money was not my first concern. I rather thought: Berlin doesn’t need another gallery. How do I make mine to be relevant? Thinking a little more strategically, I co-operated with French institutions in order to establish French art in Berlin. That worked out really well.
Anna: Later you moved your gallery to Berlin-Mitte. What made you change location?
Maud: Retrospectively, the space in Friedrichshain was more of a project space. The new gallery in Mitte had my name. I wanted to take the next step. Throughout the years I had continuously worked with international artists, out of which I represented six in the new gallery.
Anna: Did you have a certain program in your gallery?
Maud: There was a tendency. Roughly, the program was based on notions about deterioration or fading. For example the French artist Jérémie Bennequin, who erases Marcel Proust’s book „À la recherche du temps perdu“ (In Search of Lost Time). He erases it with an ink rubber - one page a day. I also worked with the German artist Wolfang Ganter, who cultivates bacteria, places them on vintage slides and develops them again. There was always confrontation with time…
Anna …and a link to the past. What is your personal relationship to the past?
Maud: My relationship to the past is too good. I am a nostalgic person. I don’t even like to look at photos.
Anna: Why is that?
Maud: Because it’s finished. It’s gone. I simply get sad about it. Simple things, like the fact that the secure family life from my childhood is over. Don’t you feel the same?
Anna: No, I like being nostalgic.
Maud: I hate it.
Anna: How do you feel about the future?
Maud: Very good, very confident.
Anna: You did your gallery for three years. Why did you stop?
Maud: I felt like I still needed to learn a lot more and to make new experiences. I curated some shows, I assisted an artist in his studio and at the same time I developed workshop programs for students about the art world.
Anna: You are still giving lots of lectures, workshops and coachings - at international universities and institutions. How did you come up with the idea to teach about the practical aspects of the art world?
Maud: Working with many young artists who just graduated, I realised that there are a lot of gaps in the way they are prepared. I thought it could be good for them to have more confidence. And I really enjoy working with them - I feel useful.
Anna: What is the most frequent question the young artists ask you?
Maud: “How do I find a gallery?” But the range of topics also depends on the individual needs of the artists. Some women asked me how they should handle collectors who are hitting on them, rather than being interested in their work. Some men asked, how they should dress for openings.
Anna: A reasonable question, since most other businesses have official dress-codes.
Maud: The art world is full of those codes too, but they are more intuitive.
Anna: What is the most important thing an artist needs to learn?
Maud: To be persistent and to have fun with what they are doing.
Anna: Now you are working at Galerie Thomas Schulte in Berlin and you are doing your workshops. Do you still find the time to curate shows?
Maud: No, not at the moment. I found a good balance with the gallery job, my workshops and coachings. Working with the great artists of the gallery allows me to be involved in creative processes, so I don’t really feel the need to put up my own shows. And I am happy to be a part of this gallery, with what they represent, their team, and their long term established relationships with artists.
Anna: Even if you don’t like it, let’s look back at the past one last time: Did you ever regret leaving the theatre?
Maud: I think you never really leave the theatre. Ever.