December 5, 2023

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Pace Gallery Restructures Staff as Samanthe Rubell Becomes President – ARTnews.com

Pace Gallery Restructures Staff as Samanthe Rubell Becomes President – ARTnews.com

For the second time in two years, Pace Gallery, one of the biggest galleries in the world, with nine spaces spread across the globe, has reshuffled its senior leadership.

In an internal email sent to employees last week, Marc Glimcher, the gallery’s CEO and son of founder Arne Glimcher, announced that he would form a “Round Table” consisting of the gallery’s 10 most senior directors in an effort to “to reach consensus about how to execute the vision that I have laid out as a blueprint for our future.”

In an interview with ARTnews, Glimcher elaborated on the plan, saying, “This is not unrelated to the passing of the baton from my father to me, which started actually about 10 years ago. Three years ago, I took another step as my father stepped back, and I started building the idea of the group that was going to be around me and it is the evolution of the fundamental Pace Gallery idea to not just support artists but create opportunity for them.”

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A horizontal painting full of gestural marks and washy blues, greens, pinks and dark grays. In the center, two standing male figures can be discerned along with suggestions of other human and animal forms.

He continued, “It doesn’t happen if you don’t name the group and make it real. It only works when the head of the company is actually willing to give that group some power, and that’s what we’re doing.”

The group, which could potentially expand in the future, will be led by longtime Pace employee Samanthe Rubell, who has been named president. (Glimcher previously held both CEO and president titles; Glimcher will no longer serve as president.) The gallery, Glimcher said, had the “need for someone who will bring everyone together, and that is what Samanthe did.”

Rubell will work closely in leading the group with Joe Baptista, who has been promoted to partner; Rubell and Baptista have led Pace’s global sales teams since 2021.

“Having started at the front desk in 2008,” Rubell said, “I understood that collective intelligence was much better than silos. I do think what we’ve established right now—a model where collaboration is most valued—is something quite authentic and it’s about being generous with each other in support of Marc’s vision.”

Also on the Round Table are Valentina Volchkova, Youngjoo Lee, Elliott McDonald, and Jessie Washburne-Harris, who have all been promoted to senior vice president, as well as Leng Lin, president of Pace Asia; Lauren Panzo, vice president; Ben Strauss-Malcolm, who has been promoted from senior director to vice president; and Bill Griffin, a partner who joined Pace through the merger of his L.A. gallery Kayne Griffin. Additionally, in August, Ellen Salpeter, formerly the president and CEO of Westbeth Artists Housing, joined Pace as chief of staff.

Glimcher said the Round Table was a way to formalize the gallery’s structure, with the group having monthly standing meetings. Instead of each of the gallery’s top dealers coming to him individually with their ideas, this Round Table group will foster “an incredibly collaborative, supportive community” that builds consensus on how the gallery progresses into the future.

Taking the gallery’s Seoul location as an example, Glimcher said that instead of Lee running that space independently, the group allows for all of the gallery’s top brass “to hear what she’s thinking about our global approach.”

This new leadership plan has been in the works for the past six months, and builds on the gallery’s previous re-organization, in 2021, when Pace restructured its leadership and introduced an executive committee to the gallery. The change came after an Artnet News investigation revealed accusations of misconduct by its two presidents at the time, Douglas Baxter and Susan Dunne. Baxter left his post but remains a senior adviser, and Dunne “decided to leave her post,” a Pace spokesperson said at the time.

This reorganization comes at a time when other storied galleries with aging founders, like Marian Goodman Gallery and Paula Cooper Gallery, have recently begun announcing succession plans. Last month, Gagosian, a competitor to Pace, revealed its board of directors, a move that was widely viewed as a glimpse at what Gagosian may look like after its 77-year-old founder, Larry Gagosian, dies.

Glimcher, who recently turned 59 and whose father is 84, called these succession plans a new “macro-trend” in the art world.

“So much goes into creating these galleries,” he said. “This romantic notion that they’re going to rise to the dealer and then die with the dealer. That is unsustainable at this level. At the level that Sidney Janis, Leo Castelli, or Ilena Sonnabend did, it was fine. The investment we’ve made in this institution is so great and it’s what’s required by our artists. We’re custodians of artists’ legacies.”

He added, “Art galleries are traditionally about one person’s point of view and incredibly charismatic approach. How does an art gallery become about an idea, not about a personality cult? That’s been a question we’ve all been asking for a long time.”