The Galerie W Landau owes its ‘W’ to Marc Dachy. When visiting the gallery, situated on the Rue Burq at the time, the art historian and expert in the Dada movement scratched the letter into the whitewash on the windows with a razor blade in homage to Kurt Schwitters and his poem, W. One year later, Eric Landau moved into the ground floor of the Baguette de Bois, famous Parisian framers situated on the Rue Lepic. Soon after, he acquired the whole premises: 600m2 of Parisian art history. That was the ‘Montmartre Chapter’ of the gallery’s history. Today, its story continues on the Rue du Grenier Saint-Lazare on the site of Yvon Lambert’s former mythic gallery as well as at number 212 Rue Saint-Martin.
Eric Landau often recollects the time he spent with his great-great uncle Nicolas Landau ‘The Prince of Antique Dealers’ who held court in his apartment on the Rue du Cirque. As he opened the various display cabinets revealing to his young nephew the Haute Epoque and all its treasures, he would say, “Never forget, at some point in time, each of these objects has been contemporary”.
It was during these regular visits that the taste for art and artists began to grow within Eric Landau. But there were also the visits to Nathalie de Noailles at the Ermitage Pompadour de Fontainebleau which helped to forge his ideas regarding works of art, their display and the nature of an Art Collection. He often spent weekends at the former residence of Marcel Duchamp with his widow Teeny or wandering around the streets of Saint-Germain-des-Prés with Juliette Man Ray.
But above all, it was his meeting with Raymond Hains at the age of seventeen that marked him. They became firm friends, practicing their own “Hainsien” language and conversing about Venice… about Fumaroli…
He went to New York for two weeks to meet up with a friend he’d made on the train from Paris to Venice. He ended up staying two years, setting up digs in the Lower East Side on Avenue B and 10th street in the Alphabet City neighborhood. It was 1980s bohemia. He ran a chess club at night on Thompson Street, Marcel Duchamp’s old stomping ground. He would run into Keith Haring and Jean Michel Basquiat on a daily basis.
Upon his return to Paris, he worked with Blaise Gautier, director of the Pompidou Center’s Revue Parlée. Here he met Pontus Hultén and collaborated with Yasha David to organize TAKIS’ erotic corridor in an exhibition entitled Le Siècle de Kafka in 1984. It was also around this time that he met Alexandre Iolas and became friends with Brion Gysin who would tell him stories about the Beat Generation, Marrakech, William S. Burroughs…
Today, painters, photographers and film makers coincide in Galerie W’s two locations. Whilst 212 rue Saint-Martin is primarily given over to emerging artists, at the 5 Rue du Grenier Saint-Lazare you will find the more established artists’ latest works. Everything that might shake up the status quo in the world of contemporary art captures the attention of Eric Landau and his collaborators. Together, with the artists of today and those soon to be recognized as such, they work to invent the future within the gallery’s’ walls and beyond