How are parents and children professionally inspired by the artistic world?

We invited several professionals such as Agnaldo Farias, Lenora de Barros, Max Perlingeiro, Marcello Dantas, among others, to talk about the relationship between work and family life

Marcello Dantas e Catarina Ducan
Portrait of Marcello Dantas and Catarina Duncan. Courtesy of the family.

Son of a fish, is it a little fish? Throughout the history of art, we have several examples of painters who influenced the profession of the next generation, such as Camille and Lucien Pissarro, John and Edward Piper, Pieter Bruegel, the Old and the Young, José Oiticica Filho and Helio Oiticica, among so many others. This history, of course, also extends to the contemporary world and that is why, with the celebration of Father's Day, we invite several parents and children who are professionals in the artistic circuit to talk about work and family life.

Maybe you ask yourself:

To what extent was this resemblance a mere coincidence?

Jones Bergamin aka feather, is a dealer, auctioneer and father of three children, including gallerist Antonia Bergamin. At first, when talking to the two, they seem completely opposite, like water and wine. While the father says he never encouraged any of the three children to follow the same career or to take care of the company, Antonia already says that he encouraged them in 100%. 

But even if it doesn't seem like it, they say the same thing. In most of the cases interviewed, parents let their child's professional choice emerge naturally, without demands or pressure. However, we know that those who love art do so with complete dedication and end up taking the artistic atmosphere of their work home. In this way, it becomes almost inevitable to influence and inspire, each in their own way, the closest loved ones. It is very common that over the years artistic subjects have been present at each dinner table. “For us art is the main subject, we talk about art all day long. It's a bit obsessive,” comments Antonia. 

For many children, entering their father's work universe involves paths of admiration, but also of great responsibility in dealing with their respective legacies. Clara Gerchman is a collections manager and daughter of the late artist Rubens Gerchman. She never wanted to be an artist or pursue any area within this circuit, but when her father died, she found herself in a situation that required this change. “There was no way not to have a quick understanding of the legacy he had left and embrace it,” she says. Today Clara directs the institute that bears her father's name and is most responsible for spreading his father's memory.

Clara Gerchman e Rubens Gerchman
Clara Gerchman and Rubens Gerchman. Courtesy of Clara Gerchman.

Of course, the unpredictability of an artist son's career can be a great fear for a parent. Lenora de Barros, a great name in contemporary art, and his sister followed the same profession as their late father, Geraldo de Barros, who left an unparalleled legacy for Brazilian concretism. In addition to being an artist, Geraldo worked at the bank in the mornings for many years. Despite being a great creative incentive in his daughters' lives, he always pondered the difficulties of having art as his main source of livelihood. 

But there are also exceptions of parents who report having intentionally tried to avoid an artistic education or who, for some moment, wished that their children would not follow the same occupation. It is the case of Agnaldo Farias, curator and father of Theo Monteiro, also curator. He says that he never took his son to exhibitions, with the exception of a Bienal de São Paulo which featured a famous spider sculpture by Louise Bourgeois and which, according to him, only served to traumatize his son, who at the time was frightened by it. the creature. The two attribute the artistic influence on Theo's life to his maternal grandfather who was an architect, linked to colonial art and architecture, and restored baroque churches. 

Max Perlingeiro, director of Pinakotheke and father of Camila, Mariana, Max and Victor, who work in different areas of each branch of the company, comments on the fear of including children in the business. “I always joked that I never wanted to hire a son, because a son doesn't resign”. But, according to himself, even though he was very hesitant, everything flowed naturally and there was a kind of inversion: “they hired me, when I saw I was among them”, he jokes. “It was the best thing that could have happened to me,” he concludes.

What do they learn from each other?

On the one hand, we have the experience of the parents, and on the other, the freshness of a youth tuned in to the new times. If in the past there was a time when only the younger generations learned from their ancestors, today this order is no longer a rule. 

“At this point in the championship it's common for people to lose their curiosity, but that didn't happen to me”, comments Peninha. “Antonia works with much younger people who follow the market process closely (…) I learned from her to be more organized, to have that younger look and sharpened curiosity”, he concludes. 

The Bergamins still remember that in the old days it was not common to have courses or training for the art market, in fact, at Antonia's school days, no colleague understood or knew about the existence of her father's profession. In this way, growing up with the dealer played a formative role in the lives of the children.

Lenora comments that she perceives a subtle influence of her father's production on her works. Although indirectly, she relates the work I want to get out of you with a unique research by Geraldo based on a series of self-portraits inspired by French film aesthetics. 

Mim quer sair de si, 1994, Lenora de Barros
Me wants to get out of you, 1994, Lenora de Barros

The artist also reports that while her mother wanted to enroll her daughters in a strict school that was a reference in teaching, her father worried that there would be time left over from studies for them to focus on creative practices. She understands her mother as her greatest stimulus for writing, literature and word research – a recurrent subject in her works -, and her father as her visual impulse. These references are handled in the collage in the form of a family from the artist.

Lenora de Barros
“In the form of a Family”, 1993, Lenora de Barros

It is noticeable that the reports about each learning experience have deep roots based on mutual admiration. “I think she has a well-structured political vision and a capacity for visual and textual synthesis like few people I've met at her age. She's way ahead of me when I was her age." comment the curator Marcello Dantas about his daughter Catarina Duncan, also a curator. 

Another proud father was Geraldo de Barros, who despite not having seen Lenora's career at its peak, was a huge fan of her every achievement. When Lenora was a columnist for a magazine, Geraldo cut the pages and saved them weekly.

With so much interest in common, how to separate art and life? Family life and work? 

These clichés are still present in these people's lives simply because, in addition to being a work or subject of interest, art is an intrinsic agent to shape our worldview and our way of relating to it. 

In the profession of a curator, for example, an attentive, observant and curious look at even things that seem banal is essential. “My father taught me the pleasure of seeing something for the first time”, says Theo Monteiro, referring to his craft and life.

Even with all the challenges as in any job, art can be a great hobby and allow for pleasurable activities in the midst of exercise. According to Clara Gerchman, art was the foundation of her relationship with Rubens. Surrounded by this atmosphere, visiting exhibitions was their favorite program. “I never met anyone else,” she adds. 

As for Antonia and Jones, there is great pleasure in helping the other to make a good deal and buy works together. When asked which one they most liked to buy, the two quote in synchrony: “the Madonna of Volpi”. 

Perhaps the limit and link of these questions are the same thing after all: affective relationships. “I think we know that art is not the most important thing in our relationship, but affection, partnership and learning. Before being two curators, we are father and daughter”, concludes Catarina Duncan. 

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