Conny Dietzchold: Not a typical gallerist - Art Collector

Issue 35 January-March 2006

Unrestrained by the usual boundaries in both the artists she chooses to represent and the places she represents them Conny Dietzschold, in her own words, is not a typical gallerist. Words by Carmel Dwyer.

Conny Dietzschold’s gallery in Waterloo, Sydney, offers a glimpse of a possible future: an art gallery business that functions in several cities, more than one continent and represents artists from around the globe. This might be a business without borders in the physical sense, but its point of view is clearly defined and the logistics by which it operates are idiosyncratic. Dietzschold describes herself as a minimalist, concentrating on conceptual, concrete and constructivist art. This is, one quickly learns, the art that Dietzschold loves.

She believes passionately in the importance of art as an essential part of culture and society and argues energetically for the buying – and selling – of art on the basis of what one likes and enjoys as opposed to investing in art for profit. Making art, not money, is the point.
That said, Dietzschold deals at a premium end, naming some important international headliners such as Daniele Buetti, Lawrence Carroll, Leo Erb, Clement Meadmore and Nam June Paik as well as Anne and Gordon Samstag scholarship winner Michael Kutschbach from Adelaide, John Nixon, Geoff Kleem and Melbourne artist Michael Graeve in her extended stable.

In Sydney, Conny Dietzschold Gallery and Multiple Box have been operating for nearly five years, but her personal art history and her links to Australian art go back much further. She has been selling Australian art in Cologne since the late 1980s and opened her own gallery there in 1989. Dietzschold claims to have introduced Australian artists such as Tracey Moffatt, Fiona Tan and Jenny Watson to the Cologne market and since 1999 has specialised there in exhibiting Australian artists in an annual show. Dietzschold describes herself as a minimalist, concentrating on conceptual, concrete and constructivist art. This is, one quickly learns, the art that Dietzschold loves.

In the middle of 2005 Dietzschold expanded her horizons a little further, launching her part of a shared space at Silvershot Gallery, Melbourne, where she intends to have four exhibitions a year. Silvershot is also a Melbourne home to other Sydney galleries such as Darren Knight Gallery and Martin Browne Fine Art. On the bow of her Melbourne entry was Korean artist Chun, Kwang-Young whose exquisite works using mulberry paper have been seen many times in the US and who is due to show with Annely Juda in London early in 2006. Dietzschold was also taking Chun to Cologne in October. Despite Sydney been her base, Dietzschold is out of town for quite a lot of the year. The annual calendar includes, among other things, the most important art fairs – Basel and Cologne, her Australian show in Cologne and the Venice biennale every two years. Travelling and working these events hard is a big part of Dietzschold’s modus operandi. The fairs and exhibitions are where she meets, makes and maintains her contacts, her artists and her knowledge. Between Venice and Basel this year, for example, she met many of her non-Australian artists. One was Australian-born, Los Angeles-resident Lawrence Carroll who was teaching in Venice at the time.

Carroll’s show at Conny Dietzschold Gallery in Danks Street Waterloo in mid-2005 was his first in Australia and coincided with the first time he had been to Australia since he was a small child. Another was Leo Erb and she was able to select some of the works that will feature in the show of his works she will hold in Sydney in January 2006, along with another German artist, Wil Siber.

Dietzschold believes that no other gallerist in Australia runs an international business on the same scale as she does. Her strategy is to have a presence in Cologne and Melbourne, for example, without the commitment of running a full-year exhibition program. According to Dietzschold, her international orientation means she has to work very hard but the business is viable. One cannot help but observe that it might be less so in the hands of somebody with lower energy levels.

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