“I think that being a gallery owner allows me to always be surrounded by artworks.“
For 15 years, Eva Hober was a gallery owner on the streets of Paris and today she becomes monart’s new Chief Art Officer (CAO). An influential personality on the Parisian scene, Eva talks to us about her career, her passion for art, and above all, how she plans on approaching this new challenge: creating the first international monart Art Collection.
Dreams of Becoming a Gallery Owner
As the daughter of merchants, Eva Hober was not predestined to become a gallery owner. Her passion for art originated from a school visit to a contemporary art exhibition at the young age of eight. There, a teacher noticed that Eva was transfixed for minutes on end in front of the artworks. The teacher shared this with her parents who then decided to teach their daughter about the Parisian art world and took her to exhibitions, museums, the Louvre, and other notable art locations. “One Sunday, at the age of 12, I discovered the FIAC at the Grand Palais among artists like César and I fell in love in front of Peter Klasen’s gigantic (100 m2) and frightening work “Shock Corridor/Dead end” exhibited by the Louis Carré gallery. It triggered something in me. I understood that art was displayed not only in museums and the Louvre and above all, that I wanted to become a gallery owner to show installations as wild as those of Peter Klasen, the man who changed my life.” After a literary baccalaureate, Eva took art history courses at the university, but later dropped out. “I realized that we learn art primarily by visiting exhibitions and that a painting can only be truly understood by seeing it in person.” After that, she never stopped visiting galleries, even today she visits the many exhibitions at the Louvre. “Artworks are sublime and all the people who circulate the various galleries of the museum are in ecstasy.”
The Owner of a Gallery for Emerging Artists
To set up her gallery, Eva decided to perfect her English in the art world. At the age of 22, she obtained a position with the Pace Gallery in New York, a powerful gallery specializing in contemporary and modern art that now presents more than 80 artists in its spaces around the world, including New York, London, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Geneva. In 2001, she returned to France to renew her visa, shortly before the September 11 attack. As she passed Place de la Concorde to go to the United States Embassy, she was dazzled by the beauty of the space and decided to devote herself to her own business: a gallery of her own in Paris. “I thought to myself: it’s impossible: I could never be a well-known gallery owner in New York because I’m neither American, let alone a New Yorker, nor wealthy, and I don’t have any investors.” With a “small” PEL (home savings plan) in her pocket, she advertised in Fine Arts schools to recruit emerging artists and soon found a place in the Marais in 2004 on Rue Saint-Claude, “thanks to my star chart (Gemini) created by the strange owner of the place.” From then on, her success flourished. “The gallery was six months old when Jennifer Flay selected me to participate in FIAC. I was actually the youngest participant in the history of the fair!” The Marais had quickly become the trendy location for contemporary art. “There were 17 galleries on my street in 2006 with permanent openings that sometimes brought together up to 3500 people on a Saturday.” In 2010, she decided to stop the fairs, “I didn’t want to die as other galleries have, suffocated by the exorbitant cost of annual fairs.” She was soon appointed by the French Institute to commission a work abroad. “For 4 years, I created a traveling exhibition “La belle peinture” – a presentation about fifty French painters in six destinations around the world. This exhibition was elected by L’Œil magazine as one of the 50 best exhibitions from 1955 to the present day.” In 2011, she moved to Rue Chapon, Paris for a larger space that allowed her to strengthen ties with institutions and more artists. Gradually, she discovered that there was something wrong in Le Marais: “I had the impression of living in a permanent fair with excellent galleries nearby like Ropac, Perrotin, and Goodman, but at the same time an increasing number of galleries with no real identity or taste.”
The Influential Gallery Owner of the Beautiful Parisian Districts
To everyone’s surprise, Eva Hober left Le Marais in 2017 to settle in the 8th arrondissement in a 150 m2 space. “I didn’t choose Avenue Matignon, it’s the courtyard of the Greats and the step was too high for me.” She opened a beautiful space in the middle of the historic art district, adjoining the Jacquemart-André Museum and less than five minutes from the Lelong, Gagosian, Louis Carré, Malingue galleries, the Christie’s and Sotheby’s auction houses, and the prestigious Noirmontartproduction. “The gallery is located on the way to the Vuitton Foundation, next to the Palais de Tokyo, the Musée d’art Moderne de la ville de Paris and the Grand Palais.” This move was synonymous with a change in size. “Even though in my career, I have had the chance to surround myself with amazing artists, I know that great artists such as Peter Klasen would not have come to my gallery if I stayed in the Marais.” She continues to work with Axel Pahlavi, whom she describes as the “best French painter of her generation” and who created the first work she sold 15 years ago. Other artists she works with include Clément Cogitore, Pauline Bastard, Anne Brégeaut, Jennyfer Grassi, and Audrey Nervi. The Eva Hober Gallery has grown considerably, and her network is one to be rivaled. Now people enter her gallery with a purpose: looking to build an exquisite art collection or searching for expert advice. Since setting up her gallery in the 8th arrondissement, Eva has won numerous prizes alongside her artists and won major exhibitions.
A New Challenge: Building the First monart’s Art Collection
With 15 years of experience, Eva Hober has embarked on a new challenge by joining monart to build their first art collection. “I was quickly intrigued by the human quality of the founders, Pauline and Malo, and by their new and innovative project. From our second meeting, I knew I had to be a part of this project. As a gallery owner, I’m constantly surrounded by works of art and I also collect more and more art every day! Monart is a genuine opportunity for artists, gallery owners, and collectors to be shared with the world.” Constantly looking for new ideas and strategies, Eva Hober no longer believes in the gallery model that has remained unchanged for 120 years. “Everything has evolved except the galleries. A well-thought-out project like monart will help to give the market a new lease on life and renew contemporary creation thanks to the platform’s partnerships with physical locations all over the world. You can’t truly understand a work or a video, if you don’t view it in good conditions. Another revolutionary aspect of the Monart platform is the ability to acquire artworks in part through collections.” This will allow young people to develop their own collections and allow more people to access the art world.
What criteria will you use to build the monart collection? “In addition to looking at the graduates of the grandes écoles and the reputation of their gallery, I will focus on selecting artists capable of earning institutional and international exhibitions and the potential to be chosen by public collections or foundations.” According to Eva, some galleries are now content with their sales: “monart will encourage them to better promote their artists and help them to be among the ones exhibited in institutions such as museums, fondations, art centres. To be shown in art fairs is way not enough to build a career.” Galleries will need to move to survive; they have to reach the art market in a more sustainable way. With monart, the artist will benefit from international visibility through exhibitions around the world and through an innovative sales platform. Eva is particularly interested in “the artworks. For me, it’s about finding the best work of a good artist. The artworks survive us, we are merely the smugglers.” Her favorites? “Among younger generation of artists, I really ennjoy the work of Guillaume Bresson, Kader Attia, Mounir Fatmi, Marlène Moquet, and Clément Cogitore. Among the more established artists, I am a fan of Thomas Schütte (superb exhibition at the Monnaie de Paris), Neo Rauch, Bill Viola, Jeremy Deller, Shirin Neshat, Christian Marclay, Steve McQueen, Pierre et Gilles, and Rioji Ikeda.”
Art Basel 2019—the Event of the Year
To build the first monart collection, Eva Hober is preparing to travel the world and search for permanent exhibition spaces for the monart’s collection, specifically in Paris and New York. She will visit artist’s studio spaces and meet with gallery owners, exhibition curators, and museum directors from around the world. “All are our future partners.” This work will begin in Basel, at the Artbasel and Liste fairs. monart will appear for the first time as the main sponsor of the Kunsthaus Baselland for the solo exhibition of Clément Cogitore, a video artist who has won several awards, including the Marcel Duchamp Prize 2018, and who already runs his own studio at the Beaux-Arts in Paris. “He is an international Frenchman who exhibits all over the world with contracts until 2023.” In Fall 2019, monart will present its platform with the first collection at major international fairs, including Frieze Art Fair in London, FIAC in France, and more!
Eva Hober plans to establish Monart over the next two years as the world’s leading platform for contemporary art. Meanwhile, the Eva Hober Gallery, under the direction of Selim Bendida and Haily Grenet, will continue its development with a program enriched with new artist talents.