, 05. April 2017
Interview with Gallery Owner Walter Johannes Steyer


Today, we are invited to the gallery stuttgARTandDESIGN in Stuttgart. The gallery manager Walter Johannes Steyer gave us an exclusive interview in his art gallery.

x-working From left to right: Sonja Bachmann, Walter Johannes Steyer, Gabi Fürst
From left to right: Sonja Bachmann, Walter Johannes Steyer, Gabi Fürst

XW: Mr. Steyer, thank you very much for today´s interview. You have been running the gallery StuttgArtandDesign since 2010. How did it come to the decision to open an own gallery?
Steyer: First of all, welcome. I am glad that you made it to Stuttgart today to visit me here in my gallery. I always consider the gallery management as my second life. In the so-called “real life“ I am self-employed running a commercial agency for 27 years with a small team. We work all over Europe. There was a lot of development work and activity necessary and somehow it came to the point where I had the feeling that it is good now. The Swiss would say, "rerailed" - it is going nicely! Of course, it does not go great by itself, but it is the case that I can also face new challenges. Then the point came to reflect: "What was a long-cherished wish?" In fact, there was the idea of ​​bringing people together. So less missionary pertaining to art and certainly not lecturing. I am not an art historian, I am a skilled lawyer and business economist, so I come from a very different point of view. Nevertheless, I was excited by the idea to bring people together. I thought – and this is now my personal opinion that should not sound arrogant or presumptuous – but at other vernissages, I often found it little prickling that people either way stood there dumb, speechless and one did not approach each other. On the other hand, one had the opportunity to get introduced to an artwork for three-quarters of an hour by an art historian, and afterwards one did not really know what had happened. We did not want to go this way!

XW: The principle of your gallery is the sale of unique pieces and numbered, limited and signed editions of photo art. What makes the art market that interesting for you?
Steyer: We call ourselves a platform for art, culture and communication. Of course, we bring prospective buyers and artists together. The artists live from this, and we must live from this. There are basically two possibilities. One way of marketing is: You can juggle with great names. This is then a) a fulltime job and b) the difficulty of selling moves to other dimensions. That means, it does not disengage itself. We wanted to go another way. We want to give young artists as well as unknown artists a chance. And for this approach, we have very slowly developed a loyal audience over the years, actually, I would almost say friends, who gladly come back to us and who then say: "Gee! Nice, here we really find something else." This is also our goal.

XW: What are your requirements as a gallerist? One not only needs the passion, you act as a dealer, agent or consultant.
Steyer: Primarily, I would like to emphasize – maybe as a counterpoint to my other business, where it is always about data, figures and facts, – that a gut feeling and spontaneity, as well as a certain sponsorship are on the bottom line of the gallery.

XW: Since 16th March 2017, Uli Pospiech from Weinheim has been exhibiting her paintings and sculptures. How did you get to know each other and what do you find remarkable about her art?
Steyer: The getting to know matches what I mentioned before: many things are not being planned at all, but, above all, the decisions are even more heartfelt, deeper and more sustainable. We have met in a very private area. Moreover, when we faced questions such as "What do you do?” and “What are your plans?" etc. popped up. It then actually came quite spontaneously. We get many inquiries from artists, where we then always say, yes we take a closer look, but rather non-binding. With this artist I must say, it then was such a component. On the one hand, it is the spontaneity of the artist who really lives with her art. She really lives in her art, in the pictures, in the sculptures. On the other hand, in this case it simply was the portfolio. She has covered the one field, as well as the bronze and other sculptural parts, both in terms of the pictorial representations as well as I view of the colour compositions.

XW: The critic Jerry Saltz once wrote about a possible death of gallery exhibitions. In doing so, he mentioned influencing aspects such as art fairs. Do you share his perspective?
Steyer: A clear yes and no! Running a gallery is a hard way to earn one's living. For this, we do not need euphemistic descriptions. I would also like to say, for example, when I look at my colleagues - as far as the colleagues are receptive - it is also the case that nowadays it is not easy a) to attract the right audience and b) we are located in Swabia, so the wallet is not opened that quickly. Moreover, if someone already hangs on a picture with bright eyes, then they still say, "I do not know if we still have space at home." Therefore, buying decisions on the one hand side are actually drawn by women and on the other hand, this happens spontaneously. There are the art fairs, we have them repeatedly in Stuttgart and around. I do not see any competition. We simply come up with a different concept. One could even pick up the thread and say: "Does the Internet has a negative impact on us as a gallery?" There is also the possibility to purchase art. In addition, I must say, – not due to perseverance but rather from pleasurable experiences – that our gallery-friends always come again. This nevertheless shows that one still has an authority as a gallery.

XW: You also offer your own art market on your website. What about the ratio - do new and increasing inquiries also come in via the communication on the new media, or do sales primarily take place on-site?
Steyer: Our distinct purpose in everyday life is clear, that we are doing our thing with the vernissages, it is about special exhibitions and events. We also make events here as part of an exhibition. The medium Internet is not the central point.

XW: What are upcoming projects in the future?
Steyer: It may sound a little boring from the basic concept, but we still want to promote international, young, interesting artists. We cover much ground. We have already done this with photo exhibitions, sculptures, pictures. We will continue this concept and set up an exhibition at least quarterly.

© 2017 – x-working

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