Oscar Graf

Oscar Graf gallery is devoted to French, British and American furniture and works of art from the early-Victorian period to the beginning of World War I. Each piece is historically important. The offer is eclectic and cutting-edge and covers different art movements: the French Japonist movement, the Aesthetic Movement, the Arts & Crafts Movement, the Art Nouveau, among others.

Oscar Graf

Oscar Graf gallery is devoted to French, British and American furniture and works of art from the early-Victorian period to the beginning of World War I. Each piece is historically important. The offer is eclectic and cutting-edge and covers different art movements: the French Japonist movement, the Aesthetic Movement, the Arts & Crafts Movement, the Art Nouveau, among others.

Antique Art & Design

15 rue de Seine
75006 Paris, FR

23 Mount Street
London W1K 2RP, UK

+ 33 6 71 43 19 90
info@oscar-graf.com

Mazzoleni - Alberto Burri
'Lava' vase , 1907

Taxile Doat (1851-1938)
Glazed porcelain
10 3/5 in. (27 cm)

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Interview with Oscar Graf ~ Founder

Luigi Mazzoleni

Oscar Graf, 2020

Interview by Pauline Loeb-Obrenan, founder of artfairmag.

After opening his first gallery Quai Voltaire in 2011 and moving to rue de Seine two years later, Oscar Graf also settled in the heart of Mayfair, London in 2019. He participates every year in major international art fairs such as TEFAF Maastricht, TEFAF New York and Masterpiece London. I spoke to him during the second French lock down.

artfairmag: You opened your first gallery Quai Voltaire at 24 years old. How did you get there?

Oscar Graf: I wasn’t destined for the art world at all. At the time I thought my life would be one of music, and I had been studying to become a conductor. However, as the son of a decorator and the grandson of another dealer, I had grown up surrounded by works of art and been dragged into many museums around the world from an early age. I believe it was the late François Fabius who first gave me the idea of becoming a dealer myself…

artfairmag: Why did you expand to London? Is the market there quite different from the Paris one?

O. G.: Being in London was always one of my main objectives ever since we started. Although we deal in European and American decorative arts, most of our focus, work, objects and clients are British, therefore London is extremely important to me and I was thrilled to finally be able to open a gallery there last year.

artfairmag: Your offer is pretty eclectic. In these past 10 years, have you noticed an evolution in what collectors buy?

O. G.: Yes the style, design and appearance of the objets I work with may appear to be eclectic, but in fact the number of designers and art movements involved is actually quite small. If you think about it, my work only covers about 50 years of art history and about 20 artists, which is not a lot. I don’t believe I’ve seen such an evolution in people’s taste. Our clients always look for pieces which were considered important, either in art history, in the movement’s evolution or in the designer’s career, so as long as we maintain these standards, whether they are private or institutional, I believe they will continue to seek them.

“Our clients always look for pieces which were considered important, either in art history, in the movement’s evolution or in the designer’s career.”

artfairmag: Can you tell us what was your relationship to art fairs before Covid-19?

O. G.: I think I attended the last physical fair there was, TEFAF Maastricht 2020, and I cannot wait to be back on a stand. Our work is exclusively dependent on physical contact with the objects. Most of the pieces we present are either unique or were made in very small numbers, therefore it is often imperative for our clients to see, hold and touch them. On the other hand, the last few months have given my team and I time to prepare for the next fair in ways that we never could. As a result, when the next TEFAF takes place, hopefully in the spring, we will unveil a fantastic group of pieces which we are very much looking forward to sharing with our clients.

artfairmag: The last fair you participated in was TEFAF Maastricht in March 2020, just a few days before the Europe lock down. How was it?

O. G.: TEFAF was very successful for us and I thank heavens for that. The rest of 2020 would have been very different without it. Our objectives were clear : Build a beautiful and completely new stand, unveil some rare and unexpected pieces, make new private and institutional clients. I was very happy that we were able to do all that. The stand we built was the mock up of the chapel at Cheadle Royal Hospital, UK and was designed by architect René Bouchara to present an amazing group of stained glass windows by Edward Burne-Jones and Morris & Co. I’m delighted that several of them have joined prestigious public collections.

artfairmag: What about now? How do you face these unprecedented times?

O. G.: Clearly the last six months were different. I’ve had to adapt to a life with fewer travels, which is usually very important to me. It’s also been harder to work with the London gallery because of lockdowns, travel bans and quarantines, but I hope this will be over soon. As I said before, the one thing we are very happy about is the time spent researching our pieces, which has been tenfold recently and has led to several substantial discoveries…

artfairmag: Last but not least, could you present an artwork that is special for you?

O. G.: The ceramist Taxile Doat is very important to me, especially after the solo show we presented at TEFAF 2019. Since then we have been very involved with his work, and this spectacular lava vase, made in 1907 and completely inspired by traditional chinese and japanese ceramics, holds a special place as it used to belong to my father over fifteen years ago. I remember looking at it both dismissively and passionately at the time, long before I knew who Doat was and how rare his pieces have become.

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