Anna Hagemeier and David Achenbach are the owners of ACHENBACH HAGEMEIER gallery in Düsseldorf, that was open in 2016 and exibits basically works of young artists.
How did your work in the art begin? Tell us about this moment, when you realized that you want to work with gallery.
Anna Hagemeier: I grew up in a creative surrounding as my parents were both architects, so they had many friends that were artists. Since I can remember, art and artists always surrounded me. I think that was the reason that mainly raised my passion for art, creativity and being different in my way of thinking. It took me a while to find out what I really wanted to do and then, as a logical consequence my constant which was to bring together people with totally different backgrounds (artists, collectors, gallerists and so on) for one main reason: art itself. Because art has the power to overcome the social barrier, it doesn’t matter where you come from to enjoy art and the meaning behind it. Sometimes you need art to express something that words can’t say. That’s absolutely fascinating for me.
One day many things changed in my life, and I asked myself: What do I want to do and where do I want to be in the next years. So I used this for a change and quitted my textile engineer studies and in 2016 David and I founded our gallery “Achenbach Hagemeier”. I was only 25 years old. To follow my passion was the best decision I have ever made.
David Achenbach: I grew up in an art family. My Dad was an Art Dealer and Advisor so I was introduced to art and artists when I was young. I met many lovely and brilliant artists such as Richter, Knoebel, Uecker. But there is one studio visit I can still remember as good as back in the days. I must have been about 5 years old, my Dad took me for a drive in his car. We stopped at Jörg Immendorff’s Studio. As soon as we entered his studio, there was a strange but beautiful smell in the air, made of cigarette smoke, wet paint and booze. The studio was full of huge paintings, which were just finished and still drying. Really colorful and strong paintings. I met Jörg Immendorff for the first time and back then I, of course, did not understand anything about art but I felt comfortable in this surrounding, I was hooked on art. As a teenager, I was absolutely fascinated by the Abstract Expressionists like De Kooning, Pollock etc. and their dealers and galleries. I could not understand that someone would pay a seven-figure sum for an abstract work. I mean you could get a Ferrari 250 GTB2 for less than 300,000 USD those days. It was back then when I realized that the gallery business may be interesting for me. To deal with things I thought were beautiful was perfect for me. However, it took me a while until we opened our gallery. I studied Business Administration, then Art Business and worked for different art advisory firms. But I wasn’t happy. Anna and I both wanted a change in life and that is how we opened the gallery.
Tell us a little about opening your gallery. How difficult it was to start? What has changed since then?
AH: It is never easy to start a business, and especially not if you do not have any savings to cope with bad surprises. We only had our passion for art and our trust in ourselves. We started by dealing a few pieces while we were searching for the right location. Back then we could not find anything suitable in Düsseldorf, everything was too expensive or just not our cup of cake. We had a look at the outskirts of Düsseldorf and found a cool place in Wuppertal, only a 25 min drive from Düsseldorf. We rented a 180 m2 flat in an old house on the first floor with a huge garden. We started as a project based space with no artist program, as we first wanted to find out where we are going. So instead of renting a gallery and a private flat, we combined both. It was quite a hassle but it was good for us as we could spend more money on transportation etc. It worked out well. We had many people visiting from the Bergische Land, Rhineland and even from Berlin and sales were that good that we thought it would be a good idea to open a proper gallery, including an artist program. After one and a half years in Wuppertal, we luckily found just the right place for our gallery back in our Hometown Düsseldorf. It was a big step for us, as we have to cope with larger rents but what we can say after one year back in Düsseldorf: it was the right decision to take up this risk. We are slowly building up an artist program and are happy to be part of Art Cologne for our first time ever.
Your plans for the current year. Do you plan to expand?
AH: At the moment we are focusing on good exhibitions and a few art fairs. We do have plans for the future and plans to expand but we take it easy. You will find out when we are ready.
You often focus on young artists. What is your choice based on?
AH: First and foremost we talk to artists and curators. They are the hardest critics but also the best jury for up upcoming artists. We visit graduation shows at the art academies and also do a lot of research online. Also, Instagram has turned out to be a good source for new discoveries. Apart from the quality, an artist must have in his/her work, we consider his/her personality as very important. We would never work with an artist we do not like. Moreover, of course, at the end his/her work has to match our gallery program.
Do you have a home collection of your favorite authors? What is your favorite? Author or Artists?
AH: Mostly we collect avant-garde painter; Peppi Bottrop, Ina Gerken, Max Frintrop, Oscar Murillo, Angel Otero, Chris Succo, Henning Strassburger among others. Anna also comes up with nice photography here and then. Anna Vogel for example.
Name three of your favorite artists and three of novice artists on which we should pay attention.
Anna: – Favorite artists, that is such a hard question. At the moment I think it’s Doug Aitken, Pierre Huyghe, Joan Mitchell, Wolfgang Tillmanns (sorry, that were four…)
– Corey Mason, Lenz Geerk and Maki Na Kamura David: Per Kirkeby, Albert Oehlen and Tony Cragg.
– I like the novice artists we showed in our exhibitions. All very good.
What will be the nearest exhibitions that we can see in your gallery?
AH: We just had a wonderful exhibition with Corey Mason, the next one is a solo show by Ina Gerken called “Blank Spots”. Opens on 12 April and runs till 4 May.
Your thoughts that you want to share with our readers.
AH: Go out and enjoy art. There is a study by Bruno S. Frey who conducted some research on living with and without art. People, who live with art, are far happier than people without art or people who do not visit exhibitions or museum shows. Art is the key to a happy life.
AH: Achenbach Hagemeier
Anna: Anna Hagemeier
David: David Achenbach