7 questions for Charly and Hanna Bailly, the couple from the Bailly Gallery in Geneva

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While much of the international art market is in search of the next big star, husband-and-wife gallerists Charly and Hanna Bailly have taken a more scholarly approach, earning a reputation as highly skilled experts in the fields of Impressionism, Modernism, Post-War Art, and design.

It’s been a huge success for them: the couple, who opened Galerie Bailly in Geneva in 2007, opened a Paris space in 2019 and have just opened a second gallery in Geneva.

The Baillys attribute their growth to a scientific and family-oriented approach to them. Charly Bailly was born into the business; His family opened their first gallery across from the Louvre in 1977. This gallery has a uniquely extensive research library that is home to numerous catalog raisonnés, more than 40,000 books and hundreds of thousands of archival photographs – all of which make it a favorite of museums.

To mark the opening of the gallery’s new Geneva space, we spoke to Hanna Bailly about the works that have been the hardest to part with over the years and what’s on view right now.

You recently opened a second gallery in Geneva. Tell me about the new space and what attracted you to it.
We opened our first gallery in the heart of Geneva’s old town – a beautiful area that is historically and culturally important to the city. Our second room in Geneva is strategically located on the prestigious Place Longemalle, the very heart of the city, surrounded by other galleries and luxury boutiques.

The gallery has an extensive research library. How was it assembled? How does it help collectors?

A significant part of our work is research, so our library is essential for this purpose. It provides us with extensive knowledge and often crucial information about the works and artists. Our library contains over 40,000 books collected over 40 years and a photo library with over 600,000 works. The library consists of catalogs raisonnés, essays, auction results and literature. It is impressive and also very reassuring for our collectors.

The gallery opened in 2007. Why did you decide to open the gallery and how did you choose the focus?

Charly comes from a family of art dealers (he is the third generation), so it was natural for him to work in this fascinating and beautiful environment of art. I studied art and then did a postgraduate course in art history. I’ve been passionate about it since a very young age and when we met we thought we could combine our passions and create a space of our own. The focus of the gallery is also a combination of our two interests: impressionist, modern and contemporary art and design.

Otto Friesz, Le Port d’Anvers (1906). Courtesy of the Bailly Gallery.

The exhibition “A Touch of Impressionism” can currently be seen. Can you tell me something about the works in the exhibition? And who are the collectors of Impressionist art today?

Many of our collectors are huge enthusiasts of this fascinating and historically important art movement, so it has been a pleasure to assemble and present masterpieces full of light and colour. We show works by artists such as Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Seurat and other great Impressionists. These artists rebelled against classical themes and embraced modernity, creating works that reflected the world in which they lived. The exhibition pays homage to the Impressionist movement, a movement as fleeting as the lighting effects it sought to capture. It was a powerful art movement that gave way to other emblematic art movements.

As for the collectors, I can say with certainty that they are usually people with a very fine taste and above all a great appreciation for art history itself.

They also have an exhibition by the lesser known artist Yves Clerc. Can you tell us something about this artist?

He is a unique artist whose works on canvas, mostly depicting beautiful women in robes and robes, are created through a succession of five to 20 different layers of paint that leave the viewer with a real impasto and strong impression, combined with vivid colors. In this respect he is really unique. Its production is also very small, with only four to six paintings being made each year.

Are there works that have been particularly difficult to part with over the years?

I think everyone in our gallery team always has certain works that particularly captivate and commend them, it’s quite normal and personal. For example, I loved a wonderful work depicting a scene in the garden by Kees Van Dongen. I also loved a sublime Diego Giacometti table… But at the same time, our job is to find new exceptional works for our collectors and we are thrilled when others share our passion and appreciate our taste. In that sense, there is also great satisfaction in selling a beautiful piece and eventually parting with it, knowing it’s going to someone who really loves it.

Georges Seurat, Le mouillage à Grandcamp (c. 1885).  Courtesy of the Bailly Gallery.

george seurat, Le mouillage a Grandcamp (circa 1885). Courtesy of the Bailly Gallery.

What are the gallery’s plans for 2022? Are there any exhibitions that you would like to highlight?
We are very much looking forward to 2022, a year in which we will hopefully see more of our collectors in person and participate in art fairs such as TEFAF Maastricht, BRAFA, Artgeneve and the Art Basel design fair, which are an important segment in our agenda. In our second space in Geneva, we plan to present design objects alongside fine art. We are working on new videos and publications about our artworks. This will certainly be a busy year, which we are very much looking forward to!

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