The famed Parisian Saturday salons of Gertrude Stein are experiencing a resurrection, with NYC-based tech startup Gertrude aiming to recreate the magical soirees in a modern format, almost a century after the likes of Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway graced Stein’s Left Bank apartment. The exclusive gatherings served as forums for the top thinkers, writers and artists of the day to come together to discuss art and literature. Gertrude is founded on the same idea, that art is a social experience that merits discussion, rather than simply a product to be bought and sold or viewed solitarily in a museum setting. As such, it functions by bringing together curators, artists and art enthusiasts for intimate meet-ups, called salons, to discuss select contemporary art.
After a year in private beta, in which gatherings were held in secret locations across New York, the platform is now open to the public, so anyone can host or attend a salon. Salons are just one hour long, with a maximum of forty attendees, in a location disclosed 24 hours in advance. The hosting curator selects the artist along with ten pieces to display, and leads the discussion. The host also sets the price for the event, which can range from $0 to $1,000 or more. Gertrude takes a cut of the ticket sales, in addition to a commission for any works sold. Hosts can invite guests prior to making the event public, but the platform mandates that at least five spots remain open to avoid excessive exclusivity.
The founding team consists of French entrepreneur and former Googler Kenneth Schlenker, and Astrid de Maismont, who is responsible for finding curators and art advisors.