Renowned painter Guy Stanley Philoche wanted to buy an expensive watch after a successful gallery show. But the coronavirus pandemic arrived and he thought of all the artists who were not as lucky as him.
So he put aside his dream of acquiring a $ 15,000 Rolex and decided to make another kind of investment: He posted an ad on Instagram in late March asking artists to say if they had anything to sell. Offers rained down on him. Hundreds at a time.
He ended up spending $ 60,000 and plans to keep shopping as long as he has money left. His own patrons took note of his gesture and commissioned him to purchase works for them.
“You have to help the artists,” said Philoche, a 43-year-old Haitian who came to the United States at age three.
“I am not rich,” he said. “But I owe a lot to the art world. Art saved my life. I told myself that if I was doing well, I would try to acquire works by artists who have had no luck.”
Philoche is looking for jobs that sell for between $ 300 and $ 500. Buy only the things you really like, whether from someone in London or a studio next to yours in East Harlem. His first acquisition was an abstract work by Michael Shannon, who had a studio very close to his.
Philoche included Shannon in a show of artists that she discovered and will present in a gallery in New York.
About half of the artists he’s promoting are known to him, mostly from New York. The others are people who contacted him through Instagram and showed him their work.
Philoche, who studied art in Connecticut, where her family settled, has the walls of her small apartment covered with works from the Philoche During Covid Collection, from graffiti-inspired pieces to pop art and a huge gun with bright shades. of red, yellow and blue.
His works sell for up to $ 125,000 each. In a recent interview in his studio, he showed abstract Mark Rothko-style works, part of an Untitled Series with which he became known and a collection of naked women with their mouths taped up. Often flamboyant, he also has works inspired by Monopoly and other board games or comics such as Charlie Brown.
His clients include Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch and Barclay Investments Inc. and figures like Uma Thurman, George Clooney and fellow painter Julian Schnabel.
Generosity is nothing new to the likable Philoche. Throughout his career he has tried to respect a simple rule and to show solidarity with other artists: If you sell one work, you buy another. A chance meeting with another painter friend whose wife was expecting a baby and who was concerned about the future with the pandemic was what prompted him to try to help in this difficult time for artists.
“I am not on the front lines, but my community feels the impact,” he said. “It was the right thing to do. I love waking up in my apartment every day and seeing the walls. There are pictures everywhere, even on the floor.
Some of these artists did not sell a painting in their lifetime. “
With her bulldog Picasso at her side, Philoche recalled her beginnings. He paid for his art studies by working full time as a bartender.
“Nobody opened doors for me. I had to enter (the art world) through the back door or through a window,” he said. “But now that I’m inside, with a seat at the table, I have to open the door for these artists.”