7 Questions for Charly and Hanna Bailly, the Husband-and-Wife Owners of Geneva’s Bailly Gallery

Charly Bailly and Hanna Wołoszańska Bailly recently opened a second gallery space in Geneva.

Charly Bailly and Hania Wołoszańska Bailly, the husband-and-wife owners of Bailly Gallery.

While much of the international art market is out chasing the next big star, husband-and-wife gallerists Charly and Hanna Bailly have taken a more scholarly approach, earning a reputation as highly qualified experts in the fields of Impressionist, Modern, and postwar art, as well as design.

It’s been much to their success: The couple, who opened Bailly gallery in Geneva in 2007, inaugurated a Paris space in 2019, and have just opened a second gallery in Geneva. 

The Baillys credit their growth to a scholarly and family-oriented approach to dealing. Charly Bailly was born into the business; his family opened their first gallery across from the Louvre back in 1977. That gallery has a uniquely extensive research library that’s home to numerous catalogues raisonné, more than 40,000 books, and hundreds of thousands of archival photographs⁠—all of which has made it a favorite of museums.

On the occasion of the opening of the gallery’s new Geneva space, we spoke with Hanna Bailly about the works that have been hardest to part with over the years, and what’s on view right now. 

You recently opened a second gallery in Geneva. Tell me about the new space and what drew you to it.
We opened our first gallery in the heart of Geneva’s Old Town—a beautiful area, which is historically and culturally important to the city. The location of our second space in Geneva is strategic as it is placed in the prestigious Place Longemalle, the very center of the city itself, surrounded by other galleries as well as luxury boutiques.

The gallery has an extensive research library. How was it assembled? How does it aid collectors? 

A significant part of our work is research, so for this purpose our library is essential. It provides us with extensive knowledge and often crucial information about the works and artists. Our library contains over 40,000 books collected for over 40 years and a photo library of over 600,000 works. The library consists of catalogues raisonné, articles, auction results, and literature. It is impressive and also greatly reassures our collectors. 

The gallery opened in 2007. Why did you decide to open the gallery and how did you choose its focus? 

Charly comes from a family of art dealers (he’s the third generation), so working in this fascinating and beautiful environment of art came naturally to him. I studied art and then did a post-graduate course in art history, I have been passionate about it since a very early age so when we met, we figured that we could combine our passions and create a space of our own. As for the gallery’s focus, it is also a combination of both our interests: Impressionist, Modern, and contemporary art, as well as design.

Othon Friesz, Le port d'Anvers (1906). Courtesy of Bailly Gallery.

Othon Friesz, Le port d’Anvers (1906). Courtesy of Bailly Gallery.

Right now the exhibition “A Touch of Impressionism” is on view. Can you tell me about the works in the show? And who are the collectors of Impressionist art today? 

Many of our collectors are big enthusiasts of this alluring and historically important art movement, so it was a  pleasure to assemble and present masterpieces filled with light and color. We are showing works by artists such as Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Seurat, and other great Impressionists. These artists rebelled against classical subject matter and embraced modernity, creating works that reflected the world in which they lived. The exhibition pays homage to the Impressionist movement, a movement as fleeting as the light effects it sought to capture. It as a powerful art movement that gave way to other emblematic art movements.

As for the collectors, what I can surely state is they are usually people with very refined taste and, above all, great appreciation for art history itself.

You also have an exhibition of the artist Yves Clerc, who I’m less familiar with. Can you tell us about this artist?

He is a unique artist whose works on canvas depicting mostly beautiful women in robes and garments are made by a succession of five to 20 different layers of paint, creating a real impasto and strong impression on the viewer, combined with vibrant colors. He is truly unique in that sense. His production is also very small, with only four to six paintings made every year.

Are there any works that have been particularly hard to part with over the years?

I think everyone in our gallery’s team always has certain works they find particularly captivating and become close to their hearts, it’s very normal and personal. I, for instance, loved a wonderful work representing a scene in the garden by Kees Van Dongen. I also loved a sublime Diego Giacometti table… But at the same time, our job is finding new extraordinary works for our collectors and we are thrilled when others share our passion and appreciate our taste. In that sense, it’s also a big satisfaction to sell and ultimately part with a beautiful piece knowing it will go to someone who truly loves it.

Georges Seurat, Le mouillage à Grandcamp (circa 1885). Courtesy of Bailly Gallery.

Georges Seurat, Le mouillage à Grandcamp (circa 1885). Courtesy of Bailly Gallery.

What are the gallery’s plans for 2022? Any exhibitions you want to highlight?
We are very excited about 2022, a year in which hopefully we will be able to see more of our collectors in person and participate in art fairs such as TEFAF Maastricht, BRAFA, Artgeneve, and Art Basel’s design fair, which are an important segment in our agenda. In our second space in Geneva, we are planning to present design objects alongside fine art. We are working on new videos and publications about our artworks. This will surely be a busy year that we are very much looking forward to!

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