Amélie du Chalard’s home sweet gallery is all about sensitivity
As you will see soon while scrolling the page, Amélie du Chalard believes she doesn’t have talent. And growing up in a big family with an art history is possibly the reason behind her theory.
By sitting for a chat with Amélie in Paris, we discovered that maybe she’s right and sometimes u don’t need talent to move on – especially if u can exercise.
Starting her career as a bank employee, Amélie became an art buyer & consultant by realizing her eyes were like muscles. Seeing a lot of artwork, visiting studios, and becoming every day a little bit more curious about everything was her way of exercising her eyes.
That’s how she creates the sensitivity that keeps the high ceilings, lots of lights, and large walls of the gallery and apartament she calls home nowadays covered in art.
Surrounded by artwork from all over the world and specially curated leather furniture (shout-out to the french design "Simple armchair" by Damien Le Bocq🪑), Amélie transforms the moment of picking up a special piece in a very intimate experience. It's like a let's-rethink-the-way-we-see-a-gallery anthem – and she's makin' a lot of people sing it with her. 🗣️🗣️
With a daily routine with so many references and materials, are you already asking yourselves what makes Amélie’s eyes run faster on the treadmill? Everything that is aesthetic, beautiful & inspirational.
“If an artist can mix aesthetic, technique and a beautiful message behind his art it will be recognizable everywhere in the world - and this is the artist I am looking for”
That being said, you’re ready to discover more of Amélie’s world with your own eyes. Maybe she’ll tell you who her favorite artist is right-down - or maybe she won't, we can’t promise anything. Read n see 👇
We know art is about passion. Can you tell us more about when and how your very close relationship with art began?
I think it’s a long story because it’s a family story. As my mother is an artist and my father comes from a family of collectors, I really have both sides. When I was young, I really used to visit studios or galleries and receive artists, so it was something really usual for me and for all my brothers and sisters. For example, there’s an art tradition in my family: from the age of 15, each birthday we are given some jewelry, a watch or something like that, we get a small art piece. So it’s really something quite deep.
It almost runs in the blood.
Yeah, I don’t have any talent, but I have the eyes for it and I like that.
But to have the eyes it’s also a talent, don’t you think?
I’m not sure it’s a talent, I think it’s a muscle: the more you exercise them by seeing artwork the more curious they make you. Also, the more you visit studios, more you understand what you like, what your sensitivity is. I think talent is something that you can’t really work on, like painting, for example, so I believe my eyes are more as muscles.
It’s an interesting point of view.
Yeah, and if you start really early as a kid, you’ll be used to it when you get to the age of 18. By that age, you’ll already be quite sure about what your sensitivities are and what you like or don’t like.
Inspired by this perspective, what drives you to collect and choose the art you bring to the gallery and to yourself? How do you balance your personal style w/ pieces you know people will also like?
The story of the gallery is a story of passion, so my first filter is always my sensitivity, but there’s also a discussion about what the DNA of the gallery is. In a second stage, we decided to be just a little bit open-minded and we are now walking with a selection committee with other expertises: one is a history critic and the other is a famous collector with a very beautiful collection. I see them every two months just to show them the new art and to ask if they agree with my choices. And right now we are working with all mediums and techniques: painting, sculpture, ceramic, mobile, paper, video, and everything from all over the world. We have art pieces from everywhere, from Japan, Switzerland, India, and many other places, but the common point among all those artists is the abstraction -- this is what I think is the real gallery’s DNA. That doesn’t mean we are not working with more figurative stuff, because we have photography, which is obviously more figurative, but I think even in those cases, in every art piece we choose there’s a kind of ambiguity with abstraction.
So if you have art pieces from all over the world, we suppose you have to keep your eyes open to every corner of the universe.
Yeah, and this is a really good excuse to travel.
We were just about to ask you how you do that. You probably travel a lot, don't you?
Yes, I travel quite a lot, but, to be honest, internet and all the social networks made it very easy to have a good view of what's happening in different places. I think the first step is to start looking at what’s going on in some special places, like Seoul or South Korea; then, if I see two or three artists that impressed me with their work, I start planning a trip to follow them and see their art.
You used to work in finances - in a bank - how did someone with a financial background ended up in a completely different career?
It was more of a coincidence, because I’m not afraid of taking some risks. I was spending all of my money in art works and all my bankers and lawyers were telling they really liked what I was doing and asking for some help to choose stuff. Then I realized I was helping them, but I started wondering why these people who have a lot of money and good eyes for different things didn’t just go to a traditional gallery. And this was the beginning of the story. I understood that traditional galleries are tiny spaces, quite cold, with white walls and not a lot of choices. And, as I said before, eyes are muscles, so you need to see hundreds of stuff to discover what you like. This was the moment I started to reflect about what I could do to rethink and transform this traditional way people relate to a gallery. To be honest, this is not very different from what I was doing before. It's different because I’m just creating a company, but the relationship with the clients is almost the same. I help people choose or buy some art works, so it’s really intimate, especially in our model, because we welcome the collectors in our apartment.
So it’s a pretty intimate experience.
It is totally intimate, that’s the reason why we have a really strong relationship with our clients. In a common experience, the collector would go to a gallery and stay there for 10 or 15 minutes, but with us they stay for one or two hours. So it’s not the same, because we really talk to them and try to understand what they like, why they like it and from where they like their art pieces. That’s why we have good relationships.
We see what you mean now about the similarities between your banking career and understanding the person behind the body.
It’s not so easy to explain, but it’s kind of a confidence relationship. You have to create a punctual relationship because it’s quite difficult to express your sensitivity in front of an artwork. You enter the intimacy of that person, and the same happens when you’re selling someone’s company, for example, because it's a piece of his or her life. So when you’re involved in the process of helping a person to choose artworks, it’s also a huge moment in life, 'cause normally these pieces will be kept forever.
It’s about feelings and how you relate to other things, isn't it? What do you look for when you’re searching for a new artist or a new artwork? What is that one thing that will catch your attention?
First of all, I think there are two parts: one is the artist and the other is his work. So, before anything starts, I need to have a deep relationship with the artist, to know his story, and to understand his background. For me a good artist is a caricature who has three different aspects: the aesthetic dimension, the technical dimension, and the meaning dimension. Every artwork has to be aesthetic, beautiful, and inspirational. I think that when you see someone’s work somewhere in the world you have to feel the identity and to be able to recognize the artist behind that piece. That’s the meaning of dimension, you know? When you can see a link among the artist’s pieces because each one of them is driven by his artistic approach. I think today the most difficult thing is to put these three aspects together and remember you’re telling a huge story about the meaning of your art. There’s a message in the end of it and we can’t forget that. What I mean is, for me, a good artist or good artwork really gathers those aesthetic, technical and meaning dimensions. This is what makes their work recognizable - and being recognizable is the biggest strength of an artist, no matter if you’re seeing his pieces in China, Australia or France.
It needs to be unique.
Not unique but something distinctive so that you can recognize the artist’s work. Something that you can look and see its shapes, materials, technique, aesthetical dimension, subjective graphics, and color aspects. The artist's approach has to be so interesting that you can understand how and why he works. Like I said before, if an artist can mix aesthetic, technique, and a beautiful message behind his art, it will be recognizable everywhere in the world - and this is the artist I am looking for.
You are talking a lot about different mediums and materials, like ceramics, leather, textile. Do you have a favorite one?
I believe the limit with the design is the useful side. When you have a useful side, it’s more design than art - this is the barrier. And talking about a material to which I’m more sensitive when it comes to art, I don’t think I have a specific favorite one. There’s wood, I like it because it’s different and makes me feel good, but if you look on the walls there is also aluminium, textile, traditional canvas or even metal. So I’m not sure if I have a preference.
Do you have a favorite piece? Or is it too hard to choose one?
No, that would be quite hard. For me they all work together, I really love all the pieces here because it’s kind of a network or a story. Some wood pieces I have chosen with my husband, for example, are very special to me. The same happens with artworks that were presents of artists I really like or pieces that came from different places, like Madagascar or Japan. I guess everything has a story and it's more about that and the story of how and when and who is the artist behind each work. I believe knowing the artist is also something that gives another dimension to the relationship you create with his art.
You mentioned now a lot about stories. Do you believe the story behind the artwork can maybe be even better than the end result?
I’m not sure of that. I’m currently working with a huge professor of a university in France and he says that normally you don’t need to know the story behind an artwork to be able to relate to it. It's like a plus or a good end, but the reason why you’re choosing an art piece is the deep emotions you’re feeling when you are in front of it. A big part of the decision comes from that, so the story of the artist doesn’t need to come together. And there’s also the fact that you can have two stories: the story of the artist and the story of the collector when he’s choosing the artworks for a specific moment or a specific person - and this is another step.
For example, when you mentioned the pieces you chose with your husband. Maybe if you hadn’t chosen with him, they wouldn’t be your favorites.
Exactly, I could have chosen them alone because I loved them, so there’s my first emotion with it.
We asked you about your favorite pieces and we know it is a hard question, but do you have a favorite artist? Not like a favorite artist of all times, but maybe someone you’re working and discovering right now?
Sure I do, but it’s difficult because I am representing one hundred and fifty artists, so I would make some of them jealous. 😂😂
OK, so don’t tell us 'cause then the other ones will see and be angry with you.
Globally, all the artists I’m representing are artists that I really follow the work and I really love the work, so I think the selection of the gallery is a good answer to your question.
Would you be able to sell an artwork from an artist that you know is gonna sell but you’re not in love with it?
I think yes because, besides running a business, I also know that I do not have 100% reason. Sensitivity is quite personal, so I know I’m not sure of everything all the time. Now I have a good team to whom I can ask things when I have some doubt and it’s just fine if we do not always agree.
And we suppose you have to please your clients as well.
Yes, sometimes I prefer works more organized with some kind of rhythm or something like that, but in the gallery I have some artists who are more lyric and less organized, because I know they are good workers - even tho it’s not my first choice. For instance, my turn to ask some questions. What do you prefer?
We? If we look around? To be honest, abstract art is a favorite as well. Don't know why, but
This is exactly the feeling.
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