Behind the gallery: Admiring photography at the seaside
With winter finally behind us we look forward to the summer and the summer for most means spending time at the seaside. Summer also means light and the best time to buy art is definitely when you can view it in your own house, on your own wall, with the artworks bathing in natural sunlight.
One of the best photography galleries in The Netherlands is definitely Sophie Maree Gallery, located in the marina of The Hague, close to the recently opened Zuiderstrand Theater, the Fotomuseum and Gemeente museum Den Haag. We sat down with Muriel Mager, who, together with Ronald Schmets, has founded the gallery in 2011.
Gallerease: The gallery is located in a new part of the marina. How did you get here and when did the gallery open?
Muriel Mager: Officially the gallery opened in June 2011. Admittedly, plans for the gallery originated a bit earlier but all in all we keep June as the official opening. The area was being newly developed and we got offered the chance to rent a space that was light and bright and suited our thoughts on having an industrial interior. An advantage is that the space lends itself extremely well for corporate events and other occasions, which gives us the opportunity to showcase our art in an informal setting.
G: You say you and Ronald had the idea already for some time. Where did the idea of opening a gallery specialised in fine art photography come from?
MM: Ronald and I have known each other for years from the photography scene. We noticed there was demand for a gallery dedicated to fine art photography.
G: How did you notice this?
MM: Photography needs to be seen in a larger context. As an art form, photography needs to be mixed with other disciplines. We believe in an international collection that goes beyond photography and art. This is also highlighted by the modern photography we feature, inspired by ‘Old Masters’. Art is passion. It’s not fleeting but decorative and lasting in an eclectic setting.
G: ‘Sophie Maree’, ‘Maree’ as in ‘Mare’, for sea?
MM: No, not quite. Although it is a nice coincidence. We decided not to name the gallery after ourselves. Our collection deserved something elegant, a name that sounded established. Sophie Maree is derived from both my grandmother’s names, Sophia and Mary. It has a French, elegant sound to it, a certain tone that goes very well with our collection.
The Blue Moment #5 (2016) - Romain Jacquet-Lagreze
G: You feature some extraordinary artists in your collection such as Cara Barer, Justine Tjallinks, Peter Lipmann, Lars van den Brink, Pleunie Buyink, Romain Jacquet-Lagreze and many others. How do you meet and spot such great photographers?
MM: I can’t disclose our secret recipe but of course we scout through our existing network. We attend lots of exhibitions, visit museums and art fairs. But these days a lot also goes via internet. Websites like Instagram give us such a huge amount of supply it cannot be seen separate from anyone’s search for art or artists. And sometimes artists also approach us directly. But generally speaking, the first point of contact is online, both with artists and collectors.
G: I mentioned Pleunie Buyink but she’s the odd one out as she’s not a photographer but creates elegant interior jewellery. How did you end up featuring her work, called Limber Gems?
MM: Pleunie creates these extraordinary objects that we hadn’t seen before. Grabbed by her work we decided to give it a chance and ever since her work has been widely appreciated by collectors, both nationally and internationally.
Emerald Gem (2016) - Pleunie Buyink
G: Buying, or at least finding, quality art online is growing. We cannot deny the role the internet has when inspiring us visually to start collecting art. Even so, physical art fairs still have, and I believe, will have, an important role in the international art industry. Do you also attend art fairs?
MM: Yes, we do. Not too many but we try to attend at least 3 art fairs in the larger Dutch cities. This year we exhibited at Rotterdam Contemporary and will attend KunstRAI and Art The Hague. We do have international ambitions and last year attended Scope Basel, a short stroll from Art Basel. We’re thinking about Photo London but as mentioned before, we want our collection to be seen in a wider, less restrained setting that offers more than just photography.
G: Thanks for your time. Lastly, what tips can you give our readers when it comes to buying art?
MM: First of all, always buy something because it moves you. You should buy art for no one except yourself. Secondly, when you buy something it needs to give you a positive feeling and trust. If you’re treated well by the gallerist or art dealer you will have a much more positive and lasting association with the artwork. Finally, always follow the artists. Check their website. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram and read up on their art and biography.
Interested in seeing more of Sophie Maree’s collection? Visit the gallery at the Hellingweg 96D in Den Haag or go to the website.