An Interview with a Dealer: Andrew Bae

Each week CGN interviews a local art dealer to discuss the ins and outs of running a gallery in the city of Chicago.

This week we caught up with Andrew Bae of Andrew Bae Gallery.


Gallery: Andrew Bae Gallery

Name: Andrew Bae

Previous occupation: Research chemist


Chicago Gallery News: How did you become an art dealer? 

Andrew Bae: I came to America when I was 23 years old from Korea with a Bachelor’s degree in science. I worked as an analytical research chemist at Kellogg's company for seven years. I yearned to travel the world to see beautiful things I have always admired. I left my job as a scientist and became an importer of many beautiful things from around the world. I engaged in furniture making for a while, fascinated by its aesthetic and function.  Some years later I found myself as an art dealer. Today, I still believe that nature and art are the ultimate beauty of all existing things. 


CGN: Please describe your gallery’s program in one sentence.

AB: This gallery introduces a very small group of select artists from Korea and Japan to the mainstream art scenes in America for long-term bases.


CGN: What's the first thing you do each morning when you get to the gallery? 

AB: Enjoy my walk to the gallery more than two decades and think about communication with all parties according to our priorities.


CGN: Thumbs up or down on art fairs?

AB: Thumbs down. Those are fun places for consumers of art but not good for the artists and collectors for its long-term effects.


CGN: Who are artists you admire but don't represent?

AB: Anselm Kiefer, Peter Doig, Shoichi Ida, Michal Rovner, Ai Wei Wei and Do Ho Suh, to name a few. 


CGN: What is the best sale you ever had?

AB: A sale to a young couple from Moscow, who had previously failed to find their art collections from Miami art fairs. They chose five of the eight artists in my gallery for their two homes in Moscow. They knew exactly which works would go where in their home. Also, to an elderly artist from California who wanted to buy a small painting for $900. She paid installments of $100 each month. After five payments, I sent her the painting with a letter 'paid in full'. 


CGN: What advice would you share with new or young collectors?

AB: Trust your own instincts. You don't need to ask around for other opinions. It’s like finding a good friend. You are the best person who knows what is best for yourself. It is an exhilarating experience to discover something you love and never knew before. It comes only with some courage.


CGN: Which artist that you represent or work of art you have recently acquired are you most excited about? Why?

AB: Jungjin Lee is the photographer I discovered 15 years ago.  I never thought about having a photographer in my gallery until I saw the works in her Seoul studio. I was absolutely thrilled and convinced she was the perfect artist for ABG. She has since been selected as an artist of the year in 2017 by Paris Photo. She is one of our most recent partners to the gallery.


CGN: What major successes have you had this year? What about challenges?

AB: I have encountered several new collectors this year. A young man from San Francisco known to this gallery for several years acquired a major work for the first time. He took time to learn about the artist and I took time to answer all he wanted to know. I hand delivered the work for him and he is exuberant of his new collection. 

Instantaneous gratitude becoming fashionable in the art world. This is the most challenging trend for our current and future program.


CGN: How do you view working as an art dealer in Chicago?

AB: Chicago is one of the metropolitan cities that draws people from all over the world with interest in art and culture. In this regard, Chicago is a favorable city to be engaged in as an art dealer. Although, it is definitely a challenging time of change for all art galleries. 


CGN: What is your favorite interest outside of the art world?

AB: I have broad interest in environmental issues and social science. (I hope the city of Chicago engages more effectively in environmental protection policy-- especially the recycling program.) 

I also enjoy listening to classical music and new Jazz from Korea.


CGN: What is your favorite work of public art in Chicago?

AB: SoundCloud by Harry Bertoia and Agora by Magdalena Abakanowicz.


Andrew Bae is the owner of Andrew Bae Gallery located in River North in Chicago. For more information about his gallery visit: Andrew Bae Gallery.


*Editor's Note: This interview has been updated from its original posting on September 29, 2017