Art Collector Interview, Sandra Gering
Art Dealer & Art Collector
By Suzana Poghosyan
I met Sandra Gering three years ago when I began working in Leo Villareal’s studio. Immediately I could tell that she was a strong woman I could learn a lot from. For a majority of my time there, the studio was a male-dominated space, yet she generously mentored throughout my tenure. And, she still does.
In the early days, she made me feel empowered and capable in a way that I hope all women starting their careers get to experience. I am incredibly appreciative of her support. I was thrilled when she generously agreed to speak with me last month about her career and her art collection.
In 1987 Sandra Gering began her dream career as an art dealer. With groundbreaking exhibitions which featured artists like Janine Antoni, Orlan, and Jeffrey Wisniewski, she soon got the attention of major art publications like Art Forum. The validation gave her the confidence she needed to open her first stand-alone gallery on Wooster and Broome Street in SoHo. There she worked by gallerists like Brooke Alexander, who at the time employed David Zwirner in what was his first New York-artworld job.
Through her career, Sandra had the opportunity to work with incredible rising talents, including KAWS. In 2008, she produced what would be his first exhibition. She remarks that she has always had a sense of what would be, not just what is. This intuition still guides her.
After 30 years as a highly influential and respected dealer, she closed her gallery in August 2017, and she continues to pursue inspiring projects and is an avid traveler.
She resides in a sunny apartment on the east side which has stunning views of the East River and the 59th St., Bridge. She moved into this home in 2013 and worked with an architect to re-imagine the 650 ft2 apartment. She wanted a new beginning and intentionally pared down her possessions to just those that she truly loved.
As she told me about the process of working with her architect, she remarked that the space feels as if she lives in an artwork because every corner of the home is immaculately designed.
First Artwork Purchased
Nothing [IV Series I], 1989
18 carat gold, 11⁄2 x 3 x 11⁄2 inches
Latest Artwork Purchased
Stone Figure, 400 BCE
Now at 76, she’s amassed over a 200-piece personal collection. However, in her home, she lives with a small selection of works mostly by artists that she represented along with personal objects she acquired.
On her living room wall, she prominently displays a unique mirrored stainless-steel edition of Leo Villareal’s, “Bay Lights Edition,” (2012) which he produced as a mock-up for his monumental public art installation, “The Bay Lights,” (2013). It’s placement compliments the lights on the 59th Street Bridge at night and the shimmer of the river by day.
Across on the facing wall, she has two works on paper by Peter Halley. An abstract figurative work by Ryan McGinness. Glass and metal pieces by Dove Bradshaw. A print and a pink bronze head by Kaws. An aluminum text piece by Ghiora Aharoni. An impromptu sketch Eddie Kang created for her on one of her plates. And, she displays a white and gold a ceramic crucifix by Lucio Fontana.
Her Han Dynasty stone figure from 400 BCE is prominently displayed atop her custom built in. She explained that she was drawn to the figure because of its simplified shape and minimal articulation. For her, the work brings her to a place where she can contemplate the beginning. She explained that as a dealer and as a collector, she felt that she was always searching for beauty, harmony, peace, brotherhood and that she always looked for work that had a metaphysical aspect. Her deep spirituality is evident through the arrangement of the works in her bright and inviting home. In her career as a dealer, she worked with dozens of artists, those she displays prominently in her current home hold a special personal meaning for her which speak to her beliefs.
Though she didn’t grow up in a home with art on the walls, she was deeply influenced by her visits to the DC area museums, like the Phillips Collection. When she was 16 she saw a work by Cezanne and from that moment she knew that she wanted to move to Greenwich Village to become an art dealer. Though her father insisted that she get married first, the dream of becoming a dealer never left her.
As her collection has grown she has donated works to the Philips Collection. Notably, she donated an early subway drawing by William Anastasi. In the future, she will gift certain works to her family and donate other works too. She continues to collect pieces – on her last visit to Los Angeles she purchased a wooden sculptural object by Benjamin Echeverria and is already trying to visualize where she will display it.
Key images sourced
- Sandra Gering’s Instagram account: @sandrageringinc
- https://www.elle.com/es/living/elle-decoration/ news/g793764/apartamento-minimalista/
- https://cfileonline.org/marketplace-lucio- fontana-hammer-goes-new-record-plate/5- fontana/
- William Anastasi, “Untitled (Subway DrawingJune 1 1990 3:35 p.m.)” (1990), Twitter, @kristoncapps