Mischief Managed: An Interview with Taymour Grahne at the Closing of his TriBeCa Gallery

I’m at work at the Taymour Grahne Gallery in TriBeCa and the owner, Taymour Grahne himself, is beaming from ear to ear. Just last week he announced the impending closing of his New York City space and his decision to begin working as an independent art advisor in his native London instead. The news came over a mass email lauding the artists, patrons, journalists, and community members who frequented the gallery over its 4 years of existence and who all helped in making it a success. For many who received the message, it was a moment of sadness – the loss of a favorite gallery and bright young star of the New York art world, but for Taymour, the closing of the gallery means freedom – a chance to live life again without the constant pressure of an endless stream of shows, fairs, and financial quotas resting on his shoulders.

I sat down with Taymour in his office for a quick interview for my blog. He enthusiastically accepted my request, as his own interest in the contemporary art world was sparked through his own art blog when he was in college.

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Taymour Grahne in his TriBeCa gallery

Taymour looks a little like a toned-down version of Zayn Malik. He’s of mixed Lebanese and Finnish descent and almost exclusively dresses in gym-chic casual. The walls of his office are bare – the bright artwork usually hanging on them has been shipped to his storage units – and all that remains is a desk, couch, and clear glass coffee table. Scattered around his desk are piles of papers, including one free calendar ad from an international contemporary art museum that features a yellow marshmallow peep and underneath in cursive writing “C’est ne pas une peep.” – a play on the iconic Magritte painting of a pipe for his “Treachery of Images.”

“So,” I begin, “Do you have a favorite memory from the gallery?”

“I have a few. I don’t really have one particular one. Getting a review by Holland Cotter for the first opening show that we did for the New York Times…yeah, getting such a great positive review.”

“Do you have any favorite artists? Want to name any names?”

“No.” He laughs. “I’m joking!” “No, but I have many favorite artists. I do a lot of studio visits. It’s important for me to keep up-to-date. The artists I represented or have shown are a sign of what I really like. Contemporary art, mostly. Modernists, as well. No names.” He punctuates his last comment with a smile, “Many.”

“Any stand out shows that you’ve seen? Past or present!”

“Intimisms! It was the summer show at James Cohan Gallery last summer, 2016, an incredible show. It had a great mixture of artists from emerging to very established. I love paintings and artworks that reflect domestic spaces, interior scenes, and this show was all about that – private hidden spaces. It brought together an amazing group of artists. The artist Aliza Nisenbaum helped curate the show – she’s currently at the Whitney Biennial.

Also, the Philip Guston show at Venice this year. Nicole Eisenman – she had a solo at Anton Kern and The New Museum last year. And currently, I really love Ridley Howard at…”

“Marinaro?” I prompt.

“Marinaro! Exactly.”

“Do you have any advice for young people looking to get into the art industry?”

“Yes! Find what part of the art industry you like the best – working with artists, directing sales, the nonprofit sector, the curatorial side of things – the art world is so big, but there are not so many roles, so it’s all about doing everything to see which angle you want to go with. Many people often become passionate about one part. So, getting a great general view to be more specific later on. If one can, get experience at both a gallery and an auction house, and maybe an art advisory.”

“Anything else? Any final thoughts? Last words of wisdom?”

“Don’t pretend to be something you’re not…”

“Very wise.”

He laughs again, “I’ve seen too many people [pretend]. If you’re not a salesperson, don’t market yourself as a salesperson.”

“Well, thank you very much Mr. Grahne. It has been both an honor and a privilege working with you.”

“You’re very welcome! We’ve been glad to have you!”

I exited Taymour’s office, leaving him, still with a smile on his face, with the calendar ad with the marshmallow peep.



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