B .M .G

37 West 57 Street . New York 10019 . 212.593.3757
The first of the following two interviews with Poets and Artists Magazine took place in
the summer of 2010 right before the Gallery moved to its new space.
P&A: What is the one factor that makes or breaks an artist from being represented by your Gallery?
FB: Talent. Originality is the key. Naturally we look at technique first; for example there are a lot of
respectable still life painters out there; but if I see one more static painting of marbles or antique toys, I'm
going to scream. It has already been done and better than anyone by Charles Bell. Maybe there are artists
who think they can do it better or maybe they think no one remembers or maybe they just don't know
anything about the history of contemporary realist painting; but why would you put so much time and effort
into something that has been done better by somebody else?
Charles Bell, Marbles, installation view, at a recital in the Soho loft of Louis & Susan Meisel.
If you could only represent three paintings spanning the whole time your Gallery has been around
from inception, which three pieces would they be?
Well, they would have to be the three most expensive, otherwise we would be out of business. We sold a
Franz Gertsch portrait for $900,000, and two very expensive Chuck Close paintings. However, we've had
the Gallery for ten years, so while it sounds like a lot, it costs millions more to run a Gallery for so long.
What advice do you offer emerging artists if they some day wish to be represented by your Gallery?
First there must be an emotional response to the work; something spiritual, a certain truth and beauty. The
artist must have an idyllic vision of whatever is being depicted, a unique point of view. There must be a
sense of structure and of course technically, it must transcend the reality of the subject being depicted
whether it is a painting of a figure, a landscape or a still life. It must be painted in a thoroughly modern
way, a way that we have never seen before. We receive more than 10,000 artist submissions a year so we
know right away when we have something special.
The entrance to Bernarducci Meisel Gallery
What is the next big thing in art?
Our big new space. This fall we are expanding the Gallery from 3,000 to 6,000 square feet on the third
floor at our current 57th street address. I think this larger space will inspire our artists and motivate our
clients and give us an opportunity to present more comprehensive exhibitions in the years to come. Our
goal is to provide an opportunity for the world’s leading realist painters.
Installation view, Raphaella Spence/Roberto Bernardi: The Beijing Project
What painting is hanging in your living room, bedroom, dining room?
Paul Caranicas made a beautiful panoramic landscape of the old railroad bridge on the upper Delaware
River where we have a home on the water. It's eleven feet wide, referencing the famous Eakins painting,
"The Champion" except my wife is in a yellow kayak rather than Max Schmitt. Paul found a great way to
paint the bucolic surroundings near our home while incorporating his interest in industrial architecture. It
looks fantastic. In the dining room you could say there is a group show of Gallery artists. It's dominated by
a three by seven foot still life, with food of course, that Matt Pierog painted for us. In the bedroom hangs a
five foot color photograph of my wife taken by Jock Sturges. She spent a week with him in the south of
France last summer posing nude, and then wrote an essay about her experience for the exhibition catalog of
his last show.
Paul Caranicas, Yesterday, 2006, oil on linen, 35 x 120 inches
If you were a Gallery owner in the 1700's, which artist would you have represented?
My favorite painting of all time is the masterpiece, ‘The Coronation of Napoleon’ by Jacques-Louis David.
It’s monumental and the figures are life size so standing in front of it in the Louvre is an incredible
experience. The painting is timeless. He would be my choice.
At the Musée du Louvre, Paris:
Jacques Louis-David, The Coronation of Emperor Napoléon I, 1805-07, oil on canvas, 244 ½ x 385 inches
What has been your biggest challenge in today's market?
I believe there is no market, not like they teach you in business school. As an art gallery, it's impossible to
have a "business plan." We are one of the few Galleries in the world exclusively exhibiting contemporary
realist painting. We have our niche and our collectors know what to expect from us but we always need
new things to interest and surprise them, whether it's new work by our existing artists or new artists they
can add to their collections. We're like chronic gamblers in that sense. You hang a show and you never
know (unless you've sold everything in advance.)
Frank Bernarducci and Louis K. Meisel at Mr. Meisel’s Sagaponack Sculpture Field, NY
Sculpture by Hans Van De Bovenkamp: Sag Portal, stainless steel 12’H x 24’W x 6’D
Of course everyone wants to know how to find new clients. Art fairs were a good idea, but that doesn't
work so well anymore. So we update our website daily, we advertise selectively both on line and in print
and we produce great catalogs. We have a well-edited client list from which we get referrals. But mostly it's
our artists who have a following. We like them to exhibit at other venues so new collectors can see the
work but since the paintings are so labor intensive they don't produce very many and we sell most of them
so it's more of a challenge to make that happen.
How has the economy affected your Gallery?
As I said earlier, we're expanding. We're taking a full floor that we couldn't touch two years ago. When
things bounce back we'll already have a space that others will be paying a premium for. We are fortunate to
be in a position to take advantage of that right now.
Matthew Pierog, The Art Dealer’s Auto II, 2012, oil on board, 8 x 10 inches
What is the funniest thing that has ever happened in your Gallery?
Art dealers have no sense of humor. Can't help you there.
Gallery artists and their spouses, l. to r.: Bertrand Meniel, Raphaella Spence, Mary & Frank Bernarducci,
Emily Raimondi-Brunelli, Patricia Meniel, Roberto Bernardi, on location: St,Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France
Follow up interview took place in June, 2012
Frank, Mary, Mookie Bernarducci in their country home
Artwork; l. to r.: Jock Sturges, Gus Heinze, Giovanni La Cognata, Mark Workman, Paul Caranicas
Why do you think realism and hyper realist art is so popular?
Two reasons: for the artist in the digital age, there is something very primitive about making a great realist
painting. You are in touch with what's real for yourself as an artist and as a human being. There are no short
cuts. You have to make the drawing and paint the painting, one layer at a time, the same way it was done
five hundred years ago. It’s very cathartic. For the collector, there is great enjoyment in owning a beautiful
hand-made object, whether it's a painting, furniture, even clothing. Particularly now when there is so much
fabricated art being sold. There is a tremendous sense of awe looking at a great painting exhibition, like
walking into an old Florentine church. You're literally overwhelmed by the beauty and the craftsmanship.
There is a great desire to preserve it as more and more disappears into history.
Raphaella Spence, Central Park (The Lake), 2010, oil on canvas, 28 x 51 inches.
Collection of Frank Bernarducci.
If your gallery did not specialize in realism, what would be your second optional style for your
gallery to feature?
I love photography. There are so many great, great photographers out there. Not just fine art photographers
but fashion and commercial photographers doing all this terrific work. Everyone knows the cross-overs like
Helmut Newton, but guys like Eric Meola have done some of the best travel photography I have ever seen.
Breathtaking. There's no doubt that it’s fine art and he and others like him are relatively unknown in the socalled mainstream art world. I also subscribe to magazines and buy books with fine photography because I
really enjoy looking at it and want to support the work and the publication as well as the artists. Even
though we all have a camera on our phones today and everyone takes a pretty good picture once in a while
with more ways than ever before to share it, the great photographers will always be recognized. We
represent Jock Sturges and we collect his work because we believe in his vision and in what he has to say.
Even though he's been doing it for thirty years or so, his work always looks fresh. That's the sign of
Jock Sturges, Nikki, Tuscany, Italy, 1998, 1998,
Epson pigment print, Ed. 1 of 5, 55 x 44 inches.
Collection of Frank Bernarducci.
Charles Jarboe, 59th and 5th, 2006,
oil on panel, 14 x 6 inches.
How do you really feel about "celebrity" artists such as Damien Hirst?
Damien Hirst is the Kim Kardashian of contemporary art. You know how shallow and shameless it is but
you just can't help being fascinated by all the cheap publicity. Everyone knows that polka dots made by
factory workers is textile design, not fine art. And yet, voyeuristically, we buy into it. Secretly we all want
to be recognized for what we do, especially when it's deserved. It's human nature. It's very frustrating for
artists to see this kind of misguided attention. We all need to remember that celebrity is not reality. We’re
not in the rock and roll business. There are no adoring fans and groupies waiting for the next art show to
open. Recognition for an artist is having a Gallery in New York.
Bernardo Torrens, The Art Dealer, 2009, acrylic on wood, 38 ¼ x 45 ¾ inches. Collection of Frank Bernarducci.
How do you feel about digital art as a medium to offer and display in the future in a gallery? How
would you place any monetary value on it since it may be mass produced easily?
Well my expertise is contemporary realist painting. Digital art is very new and modern but the phrase to me
sounds kind of limited. I’d call it New Media Art. I love what I’ve seen by Didi Menendez because her
entire process can be seen in about a minute. A complete drawing from start to finish. Then there are
galleries such as Bitforms that show some really innovative stuff.
Is there an art piece in your gallery that you secretly wish would never sell because your love it so
My wife has to remind me that you can't own everything. If I could, there’s at least one painting in every
show that I would put a red dot on, wrap back up and send over to my apartment. I'll attach some jpegs here
so you can see what I mean. And these are just the last six months or so.
Roberto Bernardi, Mary’s Candy Pot, 2010, oil on canvas, 20 x 20 inches. Collection of Frank Bernarducci.
How much influence in the current market of realist art do you feel your gallery is contributing to?
You mean how big is my ego? Frankly I think we have enormous influence within the microcosmic milieu
that is post-modern realist painting. If you look at the Google Analytics of who views our website you will
find hits from all corners of the globe. Unfortunately with that, you have imitators. I know it’s supposed to
be flattering but it can be a headache as well.
Country home of Frank Bernarducci: Gus Heinze, Trout Stream, 2002
acrylic on gessoed panel, 37 x 40 ½ inches.
Who is the hottest artist that everyone should be collecting right now and do you feel that collectors
should acquire art just because an artist is popular?
Shortly after expanding into our new space in 2010, we began an exhibition series called FIRST LOOK.
FIRST LOOK showcases the work of compelling new and younger artists whose work we believe warrants
exposure in New York. The focus is not only limited to the presentation of Realist painting but may include
all media. The Gallery in this manner functions as a Kunsthalle or a gallery within a gallery, making
available new art to an expanding collector base. We gave Mia Berg her first show and she’s gone on to
have success with her photography as well as tromp l’oeil painter Sharon Moody and others who have
become Gallery artists as a result.
Ester Curini, Cogito, 2011, acrylic on canvas,
30 x 24 inches. Collection of Frank Bernarducci.
Sharon Moody, The Batman, 2011, oil on panel,
16 x 16 inches. Collection of Frank Bernarducci.
What is the best place to have lunch with an artist in New York?
Depends who's buying. My favorite is 8-1/2. It’s right next door and the stairs going down to the restaurant
make you feel like Fred Astaire in an MGM musical. And of course the food is great and they have the best
brunch buffet in New York. Torrens likes to eat at Wolfgang’s, my favorite steak house. We like the
porterhouse for two. By the way the Gallery always pays for lunch with the artists, that was just a joke.
Park Hyung Jin, Yu Jin, 2012, oil on canvas, 76 ¼ “ x 51 1/8”
If you could have lunch with any artist from the beginning of time who would that be and what
would you ask?
Magritte. After lunch I would hand him the check and say, “This is not a bill.”
What question would you have liked for me to ask and what is the answer?
I recently heard that the new art department chairwoman at a New York City art school told her faculty and
students that if you still want to be a painter, then you're just a folk artist. This is the attitude we're dealing
with in certain circles. But I think anyone who's been around long enough knows that that's just not true.
Ask Chuck Close.
Mr. Bernarducci’s guest appearance on ‘Gallery Girls’.
Frank Bernarducci began his career as an art dealer following in his father's footsteps. Frank,
Sr., a student of the Hans Hofmann School of Art, was a founding member of the Phoenix
Gallery, established in 1958 among the burgeoning 10th Street co-op scene at the height of the
abstract expressionist movement known as The New York School. In 1984, upon receiving his
BA from the School of Visual Arts in New York, Frank, Jr. opened the Frank Bernarducci
Gallery in the East Village under similarly enthusiastic circumstances.
As the Gallery became successful, Mr. Bernarducci moved the operation to SoHo (where he
initially met Mr. Meisel). The focus was figurative painting and drawing by emerging artists.
Through the 90s, Mr. Bernarducci was appointed Director of two, well-known figurative painting
galleries on 57th Street where he represented more established artists.
He has been Director and Partner of Bernarducci.Meisel.Gallery since its inception. His
reputation has been built on his ability to discover new artists, elevating their careers, and placing
their work in important public and private collections. He is also known for expanding the
visibility of established artists by featuring their work in significant exhibitions worldwide,
supported by a large and loyal collector base. Mr. Bernarducci has a long list of curatorial
endeavors to his credit, most recently the premier U.S. exhibition of the Sicilian painters,
Il Gr uppo di Sci cl i .
Il Gruppo di Scicli member Franco Polizzi, Distanze (Distance), 2012, oil on canvas, 39 ½ x 47 ¼ inches.