“Buying and Collecting Art Should Be Part of One’s Upbringing”
As I entered Louise Beer’s apartment in the Prague Vinohrady quarter, I felt like I was traveling through time. At first, it reminded me of the end of 19th century or even the early stage of the first Czechoslovak Republic, as we were under the spell of preparations to celebrate the centenary anniversary. I was transported back to the era when nobility and the bourgeois supported artists by buying their pieces. Buying art at that time was not a speculative task to make fortune, as it is nowadays suggested by business magazines; art was simply a part of life. As soon as I sat in the living room decorated with modern Czech art, an elegantly designed electric fire place, old and modern furniture combined together, and Louise started passionately sharing her purpose in demystifying art for the younger generation, I realized that instead of the past, I entered hopefully the near future. Times when middle and upper-middle class realizes that not only attending classical music concerts or theatre plays are part of the upbringing. Buying art to surround oneself with artistic inspirational pieces while supporting artists will come naturally hand in hand. Louise Beer has had a remarkable career and during the last decade she has managed to turn her life passion of arts into a profession. Born in Montreal, she studied at a prestigious hotel school and built a career in hotel business. She was the Director of International Affairs at the Montreal Convention Centre and she was the first woman on the Board of Directors of L’Institute de Tourisme et d’Hôtellerie du Québec. In 2002, she followed her husband to Prague. She remembers the year and the period quite vividly. As Prague was heavily devastated by the August floods, she soon found herself helping homeless people on the streets. She admits donating about one-third of the furniture that was shipped to Prague, as suddenly she realized she did not need that much. Surrounded by art and inspired by many galleries, Louise turned into a collector and expert on Czech art, getting to know Czech artists personally. Even Olbram Zoubek, who typically did not enjoy talking to strangers, became Louise’s friend, since he enjoyed speaking French to her. Since 2010, Louise has established several art companies, currently managing Prague Art Works.
Since 2017, Prague Art Works has organized an annual event showcasing art. This November works of 37 Czech contemporary artists will be presented at the modern, industrial looking premises Pankrác House. Are you curious how the office space of 1 500 sq metres will become a pop up Art Gallery? The event is by invitation only, however, Czech and Slovak Leaders Magazine readers are invited to request their entry ticket to the exhibition at firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to reserve Wednesday November 21 or Thursday November 22 from 11 am until 4 pm to experience such a unique event.
Louise, many people think that passion for arts comes with age and wealth. Your journey proves the opposite to be true. When did you discover a passion for art?
My passion for art started during my late teenage years, when I was a student at a prestigious hotel school in Montreal. My friend’s mother ran her own gallery and I just loved visiting it. Not only did I get the best advice regarding art, being that “art does not go out of fashion”, I also had the option to buy a piece of art on an installment plan. As a student, I had already gotten used to saving money, so I could afford to buy one piece of art per year. Little by little, I started to build my own collection.
Your purpose is to demystify art particularly for the younger generation. Your rule is simple: Buy the art that you love!
Definitely! Go to a gallery, see a piece you like, talk to the artist, and then make an arrangement to buy a piece. Follow your heart. I am not a supporter of “investment art”, of buying a piece I do not like, just because it might become fashionable and valuable someday. Everything you buy should be able to be hung on a wall or put on display, to enjoy the pleasure of looking at it. That is the true purpose of art, as it cultivates our lives. Start early. Not after your house is completely furnished and you have no place left. By starting early, you also set an example for children. The same way as you do when you go to concerts, theatres or museums. Children should see art being part of everyday life.
You have started specializing in Czech art. What do we not know and should know about Czech art?
Czech art is truly unique and multifaceted in many ways and it can cater to everyone’s taste. I still insist that you should buy the art you love, but let me also mention the business perspective. As many Czech artists are still not very well known abroad, you get excellent art for an affordable price, compared to western European or Chinese art.
For those of us who want to become art lovers, can you share with us your favorite galleries and some hidden gems?
That’s like asking a parent which child is the most favorite. There are so many different galleries. One more specific about Prague is that it is quite easy to get to an opening night. Definitely they are not a VIP red carpet event, accessible to few privileged ones, as in many cities. As for big or well-known galleries, I always suggest Rudolfinum, Kampa Museum, Dox, MUMO or Veletržní palác. For small gems, I like Gemma, Art in the Box, Havelská Gallery, Prague Cabinet and Zdeněk Sklenář Gallery. I could continue since it seems that new galleries are almost mushrooming, to reflect the Czech reality and favorite past time.
Last but not least, you generously decided to extend the invitation to your exhibition in November. Readers interested in attending should write to email@example.com. Who can they look forward to seeing?
I feel like a parent who needs to single out one favorite child out of a few. I will mention the artists I have known for a long time and had the pleasure working with. I have had the pleasure of knowing Pavel Roučka, and as we became friends, he kindly introduced me to many of his artists friends as well as his family. The same was true about Pavel Forman from Ostrava who introduced me to Marek Schovánek, Dan Trantina, Petr Sadovský and Ivana Štenclová. It is worth to mention that all these talented artists also have had studios in Berlin and have become famous there. Kateřina Štenclová has further introduced me to Anna Neborová and Kristýna Šormová. It was an enormous pleasure to see how this small group started to grow and good friendships based on trust have resulted in great business relations. I am also proud to have worked with the younger generations of upcoming stars like Matěj Lipavský, Tomáš Tichý, Jakub Flejšar, Lukáš Rais, David Strauzz. I love their energy and spirit and it is a great pleasure to do business with them. All 37 artists I am now working with made my work a delightful business and help my mission to promote Czech Art across cultures and generations.
By Linda Štucbartová