Christine Pfister tells us how she was taken hostage by the art world, a passion that grew with artistic encounters, as well as the high responsibilities the Pentimenti Gallery entrusted her with. Today, as a curator, she shares her favourite contemporary artistic creations and tells us about the particularities of the Philadelphia art scene.
CT: When did you first know you’d like to be a curator?
CP: There was no first time for me. The art world picked me. My husband originally opened Pentimenti Gallery in 1992. In 1995 he asked me to take over and give it wings to fly. Here I am, after 20 years, enjoying the best time of my life in Philadelphia, between my relationship with the art, artists and collectors.
CT: Can you tell us a little about the art scene in Philadelphia?
CP: In recent years, Philadelphia has become a bustling center for the arts. The local art scene has seen tremendous growth, including some of the city’s finest art galleries and museums. For instance, The Institute of Contemporary Art has developed an international reputation as a preeminent venue for contemporary art and culture. In addition, the Philadelphia Art Museum, one of the largest museums in the country is renowned for its depth and its breadth of its collection. Last but not least, the Fabric Workshop and Museum is recognized as an internationally acclaimed contemporary art museum, uniquely distinguished as the only institution in the United States devoted to creating work in new materials and new media in collaboration with artists.
CT: How do you choose which artists to work with at Pentimenti Gallery? Do you have a variety, or do they tend to have a particular style and aesthetic?
CP: I work with an artist after in-depth, extensive research and many visits at the studio. The program at Pentimenti Gallery hits the balance between international established artists and young talent, emphasizing the artist’s process in the work we exhibit. We feature innovative works made from unconventional materials, such as packaging tape, embroidered X-rays as well as works made with conventional materials.
CT: What is your favorite Pentimenti Gallery exhibit thus far? And why?
CP: Every exhibition is special. It is a blast each time.
CT: Do you believe in the white cube model’s ability to connect an audience to an artwork?
CP: I do. It’s the experience in viewing art in a clean and white space where the artwork is the central focus. It provides a great viewing experience for me. No distraction, just art!
CT: Which top emerging artists should we be following?
CP: Simeen Farhat; she was invited to feature her work at the 56th Venice Biennale. Kevin Finklea; he exhibits around the world. Kiki Gaffney; she was named by Voice ‘Philly one of 10 Philadelphia female artists you need to know’. Judy Gelles; she is currently working on the Fourth Grade Project, taking her around the world. Her works are included in the collection of 12 museums. Donald Martiny; he created two monumental paintings for the One World Trade Center in New York. Hadieh Shafie; magnificent works, or Steven Barris and Derrick Velasquez, just to name a few.
CT: What can we expect to see from Pentimenti Gallery in the near future?
CP: To be present at more international art events.
CT: If you had to pick only one, which artwork would you hang in your living room?
CP: Man Standing, Alberto Giacometti. I was blown away the first time I saw it at a friend’s home.
CT: Where would you advise art lovers to go in Philadelphia?
CP: Philadelphia’s major museums and institutions house world-famous masterpieces, but art appreciators will find a leisurely stroll through of one of Philadelphia’s most charming neighborhoods just as alluring. Philadelphia as a whole has just recently been named the first World Heritage City is the U.S. You will find in the Old City more than 55 independent galleries and showrooms spotlighting artists that are up-and-coming, contemporary and in many cases local to Philadelphia. Old City has been designated as ‘One of America’s Top Art Places’.
CT: Do you consider a country’s art galleries when you select your travel destinations? If you could take an artistic tour across one country in the world, where would you go?
CP: Anywhere I go, art galleries are on my list when I travel. The one country in the world I wish to take an artistic tour across is Korea. It’s on my bucket list!