Robert Fontaine Gallery

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Interview with Robert Fontaine, Owner and Director of Robert Fontaine Gallery from Miami

Art galleries in a sense represent the commercial aspect of art. Art dealers bring art lovers and artists together at the same point in order to evaluate the works of artists on a financial basis. I talked with Robert Fontaine, one of these art dealers, who has his own art gallery in Miami.

BONTENA LIFESTYLE - February 20, 2019 by Beren Dere

Robert Fontaine Gallery

Robert Fontaine Gallery

While only one of the artworks of some artists has gained a reputation and made its creator famous, all of the artworks of some artists are admired by the art community. But, of course, only being liked cannot ensure the continuity of an artist's art life, and at a stage, this fame must be transformed into financial income. At this point, art galleries and art dealers come into play and they are directing the financial side of the process by bringing the right artworks together with the right buyers. Robert Fontaine, the owner of the Robert Fontaine Gallery in Miami, is part of this process. I talked to Robert Fontaine to get more detailed information about his career and art gallery and to take a closer look at the art world.

Robert Fontaine

Robert Fontaine

Robert, before talking about the Robert Fontaine Gallery, I would like to learn more about you. Could you tell us about yourself? Who is Robert Fontaine?

I would say I'm an accidental art dealer…I have always been surrounded by art, always creating things, not knowing why but never discouraged from doing so…always admiring those who made art for fun or for a living… , being near the arts and around historical artists contributed greatly to how I would later process ideas and the larger world and my place in it... Eventually, I became more comfortable with the selling side of the art world as opposed to simply making and creating.

When did you first become interested in art? What inspired you?

I can not remember when I first became creative or even understood the importance of art, as art, in all its many forms has always been an organic element as far back as my developmental years…I just know I was transfixed by the methods and communication which creativity allowed…

I was fortunate enough to grow up on Sanibel and Captiva Islands, home to a handful of significant artists who I knew, it was a remarkably colorful start to life, …the surroundings, the visuals made for an appreciation of all things beauty.

Robert Fontaine Gallery

Robert Fontaine Gallery

How did you decide to establish the Robert Fontaine Gallery?

After college, I was offered a directorial position at a gallery on Miami Beach which sold 17th through 19th century European and American paintings. It was far from where I lived and further from the level of art understanding I was most familiar with, which was more contemporary art driven than classical…but I quickly jumped into the position, enjoyed it, and 6 years later I opened my own gallery which has survived the waves of the art market now for roughly 10+ years.

Robert Fontaine Gallery

Robert Fontaine Gallery

Could you tell us about the Robert Fontaine Gallery and the overall concept?

I suppose my mission was simply to carve out my own corner of the market with a focus on emerging and unusual talent, solidly focused on current ideas instead of branding the gallery itself.....while also balancing the gallery and its expenses with secondary market sales….it's still a balancing act…and a comical one at best.

Robert Fontaine Gallery

Robert Fontaine Gallery

What type of artworks can we see in the Robert Fontaine Gallery throughout the year?

I am always reaching for the atypical, and the well esteemed creative minds… I believe in the idea of quality over cache….it is a careful balance ... you don't want to go broke showcasing works that the market won't understand or appreciate for 30-40 years from the time they were first exhibited, but you also don't want to simply show the usually, almost predicable works either.......

What are the common features of the artists that you prefer to work with?

I am most attracted to things I have not before seen… We are all moving forward whether we choose to or not, our surroundings often change in the process, our years, our thoughts, so to should the artist’s perspectives, and creative output. I am interested in what is happening now and how that translates.

Robert Fontaine Gallery

Robert Fontaine Gallery

What do you think about the importance of working with local and young talents?

My first reach is always to the local art scene, it's a starting point, but it's often to furthest reaches of the contemporary art market that I find artists who fit my gallery’s program. It's not easy… we are all looking for the next big thing, the artist that changes the vocabulary, and turns the tides.

Robert Fontaine Gallery

Robert Fontaine Gallery

What are the advantages of being in Miami?

Well, the obvious fixture is Art Basel, and the events that happen concurrently during Miami Art Week…..It's this single event and of course, the major public collections in Miami which have solidified the local art scene. Plus I've said before that Miami is still kind of unmapped, you can really contribute something and make a go at it here…where as other major cities have set the tone and its hard to break into too long standing establishments, institutions, and traditions.

Robert Fontaine Gallery

Robert Fontaine Gallery

What do you think about the future of the art market in this digital era?

Always changing, many galleries are living in a virtual gallery land, with no brick and mortar and balancing their program by way of art fairs and pop up exhibitions and anything else that keeps the gallery seen and their artists selling….I think the transformation is ongoing and particularly uncertain….retail has faded and become a kind of shapeshifting force, never settling on one business model for which to marry your gallery too long term...rather, I think the gallery is only as strong and able as the work it shows and risks it takes.

What is next for you?

We are yet again, moving this time into a new but small exhibition space. March 1st, to Española Way, in Miami Beach, it is in a major walking area, with a lot of energy. I have had to embrace this moving around… the gypsy life is no doubt part of being a dealer…you'r always layered in bubble wrap, uncertainly, and excitement. In order to find my level and keep the gallery current, the gallery must wear several hats and be ready for anything.

Thank you Robert for your time.

https://www.bontena.com/contents/2019/02/Interview-with-Robert-Fontaine-Owner-and-Director-of-Robert-Fontaine-Gallery-from-Miami-19022002

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