New York : Joe Kraeutler par Stéphanie de Rougé
Day 17 -
My meeting with Joe Kraeutler was short and to the point. No small talk, no hesitation, no overstatement – nothing to feed a story lover like me really. And yet, the half hour I spent in his office left me with a crisp and clear impression - one of simplicity - as if there were only one obvious version of the story of Joe’s relationship with photography. Walking out the Hasted Krautler gallery that morning, I thought Joe has most surely a lot in common with the man in the photograph he chose to bring along - the cowboy in Robert Frank’s Rodeo - at ease in his boots even in the most unexpected location, he sounds like he knows exactly who he is and why he’s there.
It was a lovely meeting.
Thank you, Joe.
From his first encounter with photography to the opening of his gallery…
Joe’s father was a businessman and his mother an amateur artist. He says he made art for fun for years. When came the time to choose a major in college (Elmira, NY), he already knew he wanted to be around art but not necessarily make it. He chose photography because, unlike other arts where he had found his voice (painting, sculpture, bronze casting, stone carving), he says he “hated every photograph he made.” Photography has this “subtleness” that made the difference for him.
In the summer of his junior year, he interned for Janet Borden in New York. Janet then offered him a job, traveling back and forth between the gallery and college for all of his senior year. He went full-time after graduating, and because the staff at Janet’s was small, he learned everything from installation to sales and everything in between.
He then moved to building a photography program for the gallery of collector Charles Cowles. He also did some art advising and eventually became head of photographs at the New York branch of the Philips de Pury auction house.
In 2009, Charles Cowles mentioned that he wanted to retire, and Joe expressed interest in Charlie’s space – “I was not sure what I wanted to do with it but I knew I wanted it.” He then called Sarah, whom he had known and respected as a gallerist for many years, and proposed that they become partners. Hasted Kraeutler was born.
His best memory as a gallerist…
He mentions that, in the first week of opening this storefront new gallery, Valentino walked in. He says that’s when he realized that having this kind of space would allow many more spontaneous walk-ins, and therefore many more interesting encounters.
His worst memory as a gallerist…
Joe remembers his years at the auction house as offering a fantastic exposure and experience. But he adds he was having a hard time with living on an airplane and not being able to have a solid social life at home.
A photograph that has a special importance in his life…
Rodeo by Robert Frank, New York, 1954.
Joe relates that Robert Frank didn’t make that many prints in the 50’s because they were expensive and there was no market for them. Apparently he would print for his girlfriends. Joe found this one at Yugam Gallery in Montreal – and he adds the owner dated Robert Frank.
On his bedroom wall…
A big mirror.
Four Women, Nice, 1937, by Lisette Model – A street scene of four old ladies that Joe says reminds him of his grand mother.
If he was a famous artist…
He would choose a contemporary artist: Albert Watson, who currently has a show at Hasted Kraeutler. Joe says Albert has a wonderful life “a number of wonderful children, a loving relationship with his wife, and quite a career where he can pick and choose what he wants to do.”
Stéphanie de Rougé
Stéphanie de Rougé