Christophe Durand-Ruel (ex-Christie’s) joins the monart team as an art specialist and special advisor
« With monart, we collect the art of our time and showcase new technologies »
Throughout his entire life, Christophe Durand-Ruel was predestined to work in the art industry. First, his great-great-grandfather, Paul Durand-Ruel, was a prominent gallery owner, art dealer, and promoter of the Impressionists in the 19th century. Next, his parents, Philippe and Denyse Durand-Ruel, are knowledgeable collectors of art from the Sixties. Finally, Christophe has been director of the Contemporary Art department at Christie’s France for almost 20 years. Today, as a descendant of prestigious art dealers, Christophe Durand-Ruel joins the monart team as an art specialist and special advisor. He sat down with us to talk about his career, his view of the art market, and his vision of the disruption of the art market carried by monart.
An “innovative and promoter of the Impressionists” ascendant.
In the 1850-60s, Paul Durand-Ruel took over his parent’s art supply store. His mother had inherited the store and his father further developed it to accommodate commercial activity for paintings. At first, Paul expanded the art dealer’s activity, but soon became the first to create a street gallery. The war of 1870 forced him into exile, and he fled to Great Britain where he met Monet. Returning to France, Monet took him to meet Renoir and after that, Paul became a famous merchant of the Impressionists—a visionary and avant-garde gesture for “the man with 12,000 paintings”.
“My great-great-great-grandfather has been innovative in the art market! ». Paul Durand-Ruel was also one of the first to develop the concept of “exclusive work” that allowed him to buy back entire collections from artists such as Pissaro, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Sysley, and others, sometimes for a salary. For example, in 1872, he acquired twenty-three paintings by Manet at one time. And for what reason? To support the entire work rather than control the market for a particular artist. Simultaneously, he undertook the role of a merchant, an enthusiast, a collector, a father, and an “old man” according to Renoir, “but above all, a pioneer who knew how to revolutionize the art market through his flair and modernity”. Paul Durand-Ruel is the precursor of the art gallery concept that still exists today, 150 years after his first gallery in the streets of France.
Parents who collect art
Christophe Durand-Ruel has always been immersed in the art world, thanks to his parents who continued the collector lifestyle begun by his great-great-grandfather. Christophe’s father Philippe was a compulsive collector of works ranging from the new realists to the Arte Povera, from minimal art to American art giants such as Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg, and Warhol. His mother Denyse was the author of numerous catalogs of contemporary artists.
“Thanks to my family, I have been around many artists”. Professionally, Christophe entered the art world, particularly the world of auctions, by joining the Francis Briest study in 1988. Four years later, he joined forces with Fabienne Leclerc to take over the Galerie des Archives, which featured young artists such as Florence Paradeis, Erik Samakh and Mark Dion in the Centre Pompidou district—an adventure that lasted six years.
Two decades with Christie’s
In 1998, he became head of the contemporary art department at Christie’s France, a role that lasted until 2017. “Despite the calls from my colleagues of modern art who tried to turn me away from contemporary art, I was right to resist them, especially when you see the robust nature of the contemporary art market, even today! ».
These twenty years at Christie’s have not been quiet ones, punctuated by various crises, profound changes in the functioning of the art market, and a complete renewal of actors. “This experience at Christie’s has allowed me to gain a global vision of the art market, both as a collector and as an investor”.
An open look at the new world of art
Today, as a collector and investor, Christophe Durand-Ruel says he is “open to new initiatives such as the monart initiative”. He is convinced that there is room for new perspectives and new ways of approaching the art world. “At first, I was skeptical. In fact, I am a true individual collector. As such, I consider art, first and foremost, as a personal experience, an adventure with its own tastes. But gradually I was convinced that the creation of a platform like monart could truly serve the interests of gallery owners, artists, and art lovers alike, and above all, disrupt an art market that needs a new lease on life”. Indeed, today’s art market is characterized by an overabundance of offers including:
- Two to three international auction houses (Christie’s, Sotheby’s…) boasting billions of dollars in sales
- Large dominant galleries (with 100+ employees) alongside small, struggling galleries that are being snubbed by art lovers and overwhelmed by digital images and mounting requests
- Numerous museums and contemporary art center worldwide
- Permanent biennials
- Multiple fairs which are obligatory and expensive passages for galleries
- Artists who often suffer from a lack of recognition
- Not to mention a demanding and disoriented public who do not know how to participate in this art market
Monart platform makes sense for gallery owners, artists, collectors and art lovers.
“It is in this context that the monart platform makes sense for gallery owners, artists, collectors and art lovers. It will broaden the audience of art lovers, especially young people who are keen on the Internet and technology. This new digital art will open up new horizons and new artistic experiences with artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and more. As proof of this, I would like to mention the growing success of Street Art.
On the other hand, the blockchain component of the monart project is an opportunity for art to evolve. In addition to helping authenticate and guarantee works of art, it will above all improve their traceability, and consequently the transparency of the art market.
Finally, the financialization with monart tokens offers an original means of financing to participate and invest in the art world via shares of works of art.
Furthermore, by associating the monart platform with physical art spaces (currently monart hosts spaces for artistic experiences in Beijing and Paris, later in New York and London), art lovers and collectors including myself have a chance to experience the artwork first-hand. My interests lie first with the artwork, and then with the artists. I do not invest in just the art itself, but also in the emotion that it evokes.
Art today goes in all directions. I am interested in digital art, but it is difficult to own a collection of this kind due to the difficulties of conservation and maintenance. Monart can allow us to buy digital art without having to give it a home. With monart, we collect the art of our time and in particular, benefit from new technologies in the art world” concludes Christophe Durand-Ruel.
For more information: Paul Durand-Ruel