Jean-Louis Herlédan: Waking up the Carré Rive Gauche

On 08 December 2020, by Maïa Roffé

As president for the past four years of the Carré Rive Gauche, an association of Saint-Germain-des-Prés antique dealers and art galleries, Jean-Louis Herlédan has awakened a sleeping beauty.


You took advantage of the first lockdown in France to develop the organization’s digital strategy.
Digital technology is no longer just an option, it’s a necessity. We overhauled the website, which is now trilingual (French, English and Chinese), accessible on all platforms and has a shopping section. Around 20 galleries have taken the plunge and now sell things online. The next project involves creating digital catalogues featuring an overview of the Carré Rive Gauche’s offer at any given time. The one we’re putting online for the "Noël au Carré" (“Christmas at the Carré”) operation has item descriptions, prices and links to the galleries’ websites. We insist on dealers’ displaying their prices. It’s not right if they don’t, especially with respect to our international customers.

Every day, on Instagram, you feature a new item from the Christmas catalogue on an “advent calendar".
The piece’s history, a link to the gallery and content promoting all the galleries in the neighborhood accompany every picture. A much more ambitious social media development plan will be rolled out next year, with stories about objects or dealers. Each network has its own rationale but all of them have one thing in common: a strong visual impact with professional-quality photographs.

The "Noël au Carré" operation isn’t just online.
All the galleries are open from December 1 to 24 and the ones participating in the Christmas catalogue are featuring a selection of five items, ranging in price from €400 for a delicately decorated 18th-century milky opaline glass at Laurent Oïffer’s to €75,000 for a large Renaissance cabinet that belonged to Gabrielle Chanel, at Gabrielle Laroche’s. We’ll welcome the public in strict compliance with Covid rules but can also organize private visits outside normal opening hours.

What changes have you made since arriving four years ago?
In all modesty, I implemented some business ideas based on my prior professional experience (communication and marketing—Ed.). An association can contribute to its members’ commercial development. Until four years ago, the Carré Rive Gauche organized one or two events a year and relations with the press. I proposed developing partnerships with Clés d’or, the hotel concierges’ professional association, which generates traffic to our galleries. We’ve also forged international partnerships, including with the American Society of Interior Designers, which we’ve hosted for three years during the Maison & Objet show in January. Organizing private visits for the world’s leading design firms drums up business and nurtures long-term relationships. In that regard, I have a little announcement to make. You’re the first to know that we’re partnering with "Par Excellence NY", which showcases French craftsmanship in the US and Europe.

Charles, by Franco-Chinese photographer Yang Wang, from "Not Alone in Quarantine", a show that was online on the 1831 Art Gallery website

Charles, by Franco-Chinese photographer Yang Wang, from "Not Alone in Quarantine", a show that was online on the 1831 Art Gallery website during the first 2020 lockdown.

You also partnered with the Hotel Lutetia when it reopened in 2018 after closing for refurbishment.
It’s an image partnership that strengthens the Lutetia’s grounding in the community. It’s very important for us to team up with the only hotel on the Left Bank that meets the definition of “luxury hotel”, five minutes from our neighborhood. Over the course of our talks with the director, Élisabeth Bouvier, it dawned on us that we could turn the hotel’s most lavish suite into the Carré Rive Gauche Presidential Suite, decorated with items ranging from prehistoric times to today from around 20 local galleries. The first hang, which took place when the hotel reopened, was devised with interior designers who imagined how an American art collector couple with eclectic tastes would have decorated their Paris apartment. That got a lot of coverage in the international press, including in the luxury travel trade, which is very important to us. The second hang, based on the theme of women, from depictions of women to female artists, should have taken place this month, but it’s been postponed until the Lutetia completely reopens.

Was that the spirit of the Carré Rive Gauche when you became its president?
To me it’s one of the key ideas that gives the partnership aspect all its meaning. I’d even like to go beyond our neighborhood’s geographical boundaries. I think that in 2021 or 2022 it would be worthwhile to bring together all the city’s art districts and even all the art market’s stakeholders. Paris is one of the world’s leading art destinations. People in the art world haven’t taken enough advantage of that because they’re all focused on their own neighborhoods, whereas seen from New York or Shanghai, the differences between the Right Bank, the Left Bank and the flea markets are not very obvious. What brings us together is so much more important: the image of Paris as an arts capital.

Have any new dealers joined the Carré Rive Gauche?
They do all the time! The most recent arrival is Nicolas Bourriaud, a talented young gallerist who has a good eye and a wonderful way of theatrically staging his sculptures. We also host some great trend-setting interior designers. Charles Tassin and Thierry Lemaire have recently moved in, and Stéphane Parmentier will soon. We all work together. This is a very inspirational neighborhood where you can find just about anything. The Delalande gallery supplies nautical objects to museums around the world. Bertrand Delavergne is a must for 17th and 18th-century imported porcelain, and Gabrielle Laroche for Renaissance furniture. The quality and beauty of what she presents in her two galleries is amazing.

What’s different about your space, the 1831 Art Gallery?
My wife Aude and I have started an art school. Aude is mainly a painter and sculptor. We’ve built up a very eclectic collection over the years, and opened our gallery in 2013 at 6 rue de Lille in the heart of the Carré Rive Gauche, where we present what we love: international contemporary artists and a few curiosities.

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