If we had to define Wilo & Grove, an “art publishing house” would undoubtedly be the most appropriate term. Nevertheless, the concept created by Olivia de Fayet and Fanny Saulay – both alumnae of Christie’s...
Who said art was the preserve of the initiated? Collectors, “middle-aged men with (their) grey suits and (their) cigars, and (their) wads of cash in their pockets”? Certainly not Fanny Saulay and Olivia de Fayet, the founders of Wilo & Grove, the new kind of art gallery that has taken over 40 Rue des Petits Carreaux (75002 Paris). A complementary duo as inquisitive as they are passionate – a duo The Socialite Family has followed assiduously since its earliest days – who have made ‘art for all’ their credo, from the opening of their first establishment, the Wiloft, to their current Oasis. A 180 m2 gallery apartment that houses the work of 50 hand-picked artists. All of these achievements have left a deep impression on the two former Christies employees, because the pair works instinctively to put together their catalogue and blow the dust off the art market. A sector that is “rather ‘old-fashioned’ and has been functioning in the same way for centuries”, and is one to which these Parisians have brilliantly opened the doors to the uninitiated. In a setting where one feels “at home” and where visitors can – without a prior appointment – wander around and take in each piece without preconceived ideas but with total sincerity. An approach to the arts where friendliness and accessibility are key, and where Xavier Brunswick’s vintage furniture – also for sale – adds to the experience, creating an environment everyone can relate to. For a unique artistic experience enhanced by the transparency, support and guidance of the two co-founders who will seamlessly integrate you into the Wilo family with their pedagogy and passion!
40 Rue des Petits Carreaux, 75002 Paris, Tuesday to Saturday from 11:30 to 19:30. And if you are not in Paris, you can visit their e-shop to browse their catalogue of works. To contact them: +33 (0) 189 329680.
After studying history, art history and business, I joined Christie’s auction house, first in Hong Kong and then in Paris in 2011. It was an incredibly rewarding experience lasting almost ten years, surrounded by masterpieces and passionate people! It is also where I met Fanny, my partner today.
Very swiftly convinced that my studies in business school should lead me back to my passion for art, I started at Christie’s just before the legendary sale of the Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé Collection. So I had the chance to experience the “sale of the century” from the inside! After a stint in London and New York, I joined the Impressionist and Modern department in Paris alongside Olivia. Then, at the end of 2016, we decided to take the plunge together and launch the Wilo & Grove adventure, which will soon celebrate its 5th anniversary.
I was lucky enough to grow up with a grandmother who was a curator at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs! She set up the whole “toy” department, so of course, as children, we took an active part in all the exhibitions she organised! She also took me to the great Parisian museums; I have fond memories of the Miró retrospective at Pompidou in 2004, which we visited together. Both my parents had enquiring minds and made me aware of the “beautiful” through cultural openness, travel, visits and music! They have always filled their home with pieces that have a history, pictures painted by their friends, mixing the modern and the old, the beautiful and the comfortable.
There is a very strong taste for art but no collectors in my family at all. So I became aware of it through practice (my father, like my grandfather before him, is very good with his hands) and discovery in museums, churches and books. As a result, I had a serious complex about my knowledge when I decided to go down this road professionally, because my whole relationship with art was completely informal and based on feeling and experience. It pushed me to learn a lot, but over time I realised that this was not necessarily a flaw. This gave a kind of purity in the approach to the works, without the preconceived ideas or over-intellectualisation that we often find with our clients today, and which is a precious thing, a source of strong and sincere emotions!
When, at the age of 30, we left Christie’s, a company that is rightly very attached to its history and traditions, we felt that the art market was, ultimately, rather “old-fashioned”, having functioned in the same way for centuries and was, as a result, closing its doors to a new public. We wanted to break the stereotype of the middle-aged collector with his grey suit and cigar, and his wad of cash in his pocket. And to show that everyone can buy a work of art irrespective of their background, budget or knowledge. This sometimes requires advice and guidance, which is what we want to provide at Wilo, but apart from that, you just have to dare to take the plunge: Be Wild!
During the gallery’s first three years, not having a traditional physical gallery space was important in the idea of breaking the mould. This is why we chose a hybrid approach, with the Wiloft showroom by appointment, and our pop-ups, these ephemeral and itinerant showcases, which allowed us to take over very different places in the four corners of Paris. A new era has begun with the Oasis – so named because it is sheltered by Patrick Blanc’s sumptuous plant wall. The encounter with the work – that magical moment of falling in love – is central to the experience we want to provide. The fact that we are now accessible all year round, without an appointment, in this space that reflects us so well, seemed to us to be the natural next step. The DNA remains the same, with a “home-like” setting down to the smallest detail to make you feel good and easily imagine yourself living there. The main difference is that the design is highly scalable. Thanks to our partner Xavier Brunswick, a vintage furniture expert, the furniture, which is also for sale, changes as often as the works of art, which means that the decor can be different almost every week!
Like a personal collection that evolves over a lifetime and mixes different styles, periods and techniques, we create ambiences around the rooms in the house. Our catalogue of 50 artists includes more than 2000 pieces, which we can’t exhibit simultaneously, of course. So the idea is, as if we were creating a real living space, to bring artists and techniques together in a harmonious arrangement, sometimes with a touch of craziness, to show that it is possible to combine very varied works. There is often a temptation when starting to buy objects or works of art to match them by colour or shape, to establish a logic to reassure ourselves. We’re trying to show that you can be much more “Wild” than that, and trust yourself, allow yourself to follow your instincts.
The 180 m2 of the Oasis is divided into two main parts separated by a staircase. This means that, one week a month, we can dedicate the lower level to a particular artist for a solo exhibition of their work. Naturally, we’re keen to present the artists as part of a lively and collective display, but it’s also interesting and complementary to be able to discover a body of work as a whole and to take in all of an artist’s work at a glance. Our next big event is the exhibition of one of our star painters Audrey Noël, which will take place over three days on 10, 11 and 12 June. This is a long-awaited occasion for many of our Wilovers (aka our customers), who follow her work closely and have been waiting for some time to acquire one of her paintings.
Fanny and I always choose the artists we like the most, which enables the selection to remain consistent in its diversity. The fifty artists we are lucky enough to represent trust us, and we do our best to support them. This is why we do not want to increase the number of artists who join the Wilofamily, as we call it! So our curation is perhaps even more selective than it was initially, as we have limited opportunities for new recruits.
We cater to all, but especially to the “uninitiated”, and our greatest pleasure is hearing people walk through the door and say they are stepping into a gallery for the first time in their lives. Our price range is from €50 to around €5,000 and allows everyone to find something to suit their budget, their space, and their taste, and we hope to help as many people as possible discover the joy of living with works of art.
Fanny and I always choose the artists we like the most, which enables the selection to remain consistent in its diversity.
Valérie Martinez is the latest artist to join us, only a few weeks ago. Valérie is sensitive to the colours and materials around her and is inspired by nature and landscapes. She lets herself be carried away by her intuitions and spontaneously shapes compositions made of collages, ink and paint in a tireless search for harmony. I love this balanced and poetic work; you can find it at the Oasis and also online on our website!
The art market, especially the contemporary one, is still quite confusing for many people. So transparency is at the heart of our approach, and we are keen to answer all the questions our customers ask us every day: how do you set prices? How does a gallery work? How do you choose your artists? But we also answer more practical questions about choosing a first work of art, installing it at home, lighting, framing, and many other topics. So our book is a kind of compendium of answers to all these questions, a toolbox for everyone who is curious and will become a collector in the future!
From Tuesday to Saturday at 40 Rue des Petits Carreaux Paris 2e, near you, The Socialite Family! But also from September in a new and iconic place, but shhh, it’s still a secret…
The art market, especially the contemporary one, is still quite confusing for many people. So transparency is at the heart of our approach (...)
Photography : Jeanne Perrotte – Text : Juliette Bruneau @thesocialitefamily