Marine Tanguy: Resculpting The Art Scene
Being a successful entrepreneur or a successful artist is rooted in the idea of conserving your inner child. It’s a total rejection to being told something is impossible. It’s point blank refusal to let go of your childish dream; that you hold to with child-like stubbornness.
Children of course are known to be difficult little creatures, but on the other hand so are artists. Both notoriously need a fine medley of care, support, discipline and encouragement. If you are a child, you must look to your mother. If you are an artist, you must look to Marine.
The world is a topsy-turvy sort of place. I, for one, can’t figure anything out. I don’t know if we’re in a state of economic flux or economic boom, I don’t know if we’re spiralling off the Global stage, or strapping in for the long run. The one thing I’m managing to grasp as Earth careers around on its axis, is that everything is ever-changing.
To the layman such as myself, the art world appears somewhat linear; artists would be represented by galleries, who in turn liaise with collectors. Today, especially for young galleries this is no longer feasible. High rent and maintenance costs force many starting galleries to feel pressured to work only with popular artists. Marine, who opened her first gallery in the US, and was LA’s youngest art dealer at just 23, will be the first to admit this. “I thought I was going to be the happiest person in the world, but sadly, the issues I had were the real estate prices. I felt compromised to either do black and white nude photography, or Mr Brainwash who was everywhere in LA at the time, and basically sell very established names.”
“I was in the wrong city.” She continues. “LA likes art for glamour and status. If Demi Moore buys a work of art, everyone will start buying it because Demi Moore bought it – it’s not the same relationship to art as I’m aspiring to. I’m never against putting a pretty dress on and drinking champagne, but I care really about art. I really do. I take it seriously. It’s people with journeys that are trying to show a new vision to the world, a new story, I can’t take it superficially, because for me that’s not how it is.”
There is something imbued with refreshing integrity and passion in Marine’s relationship to art and the people that make it. Having spent time in Hollywood, it became clear what she didn’t want to do – and this she says, is a crucial step to figuring out what you do want to do. It was soon obvious she wasn’t happy being a middle-man or a gallery girl. Much too clever, much too shrewd and much too ambitious to fit the roles on offer, Marine set out to cluster together a coterie of her own talent, and have a chance to champion people whom she believed in instinctually. And London, I’m sure many of us can agree, is a much more fertile environment compared to America; famously the land of no history and minimal culture.
With her small frame and frenetic movements, Marine is a true art dealer; always scoping, scouting, spotting. She is looking, taking in the world around her, willing to roll her sleeves up, muck out and get in. That’s part of the reason I wanted to write about Marine’s new company, MTArt; her answer to the age-old gallery model, and how she’s evolved and re-emerged as an art entrepreneur. The aim of MTArt is to function as a talent agency for artists; cultivating ability and the artists who have it. But for Marine, the personal element was the springboard to her concept.
“When you grow talents, there’s a lot of coaching and nurturing that goes in, it’s a lot of time. And I think 20 years ago you could afford to have that time, but nowadays, young galleries don’t do it, because they don’t have time and cost-wise its too much. And if they can do it, a big gallery comes and pushes in – I’m probably quite emotional about it, I don’t want someone to come and steal my talent, I want to work with that person. You spend your time, you call them every day, you know them by heart, you go to their wedding, it’s so intense an experience… and then someone takes them away.”
So Mama Marine herself emerged. For her hand-selected group of artists she does everything and anything. She is the support network, the structure, the adviser, the studio-space finder. She helps with logistics, costs, shows, talks, conferences. She provides many different platforms for her artists to express themselves, from getting them interviews to helping them set up their exhibitions. Unlike almost everyone in the art world, Marine takes a leap of faith by supporting her emerging artists, aiming to create a community in which they can all grow together and interact. Speaking to her it becomes clear that cataloguing big names for collectors isn’t her deal. She’s fostering friendships.
MTArt is Marine’s way of trying to pragmatically, financially, preserve these relationships. It was about “designing a model that meant I could work with a gallery but that I didn’t have to loose the artist, because I just couldn’t bare losing people that I care about”. But in her eagle-eyed, no-nonsense way, Marine knows the model has further promise. After all, how many of us have enjoyed the recent rise of East London and its culture?
“The presence of artists gentrifies areas, just look at Shoreditch, Hackney, Dalston” she tells me. As soon as creatives move in, the area is automatically trendier, gentler and eventually, expensive. Art is an asset to the economy and MTArt is Marine’s answer to the problems faced by talented newcomers and collectors seeking out new blood. She’s the girl who hits the ground running – determined to crack the contemporary art scene with her practised eye and pluck.