The blue-chip French dealer Emmanuel Perrotin has joined the humble art scene in Las Vegas with the opening of a store at the Bellagio Resort and Casino, an MGM Resorts property.
The store, located en route to the casino pool and adjacent to the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, sells prints, editions, publications and artist-designed objects, with some of the best-sellers so far—the space opened around three weeks ago—being anything related to Toilet Paper Magazine, an enterprise of the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari, and the hypebeast favourite Takashi Murakami.
Las Vegas has historically struggled to find its footing when it comes to cultural spaces, with a saga of doomed projects including the recently-canceled Las Vegas branch of the Nevada Museum of Art, the Guggenheim's failed outpost at the Venetian casino, which closed in 2008 after less than seven years, and a Pace Gallery store that also operated at the Bellagio between 2002 and 2007.
Although some well-known art advisors thrive in the city, and there is a budding local art scene, the number of commercial galleries is small if arguably non-existent outside from a few storefronts in downtown Las Vegas.
Corporate collections like that of the MGM Resorts Art and Culture—which are dispersed, sometimes unlabeled, throughout its various properties on the Las Vegas Strip in walkways, restaurants, stores, spas and behind check-in desks—remain the main platform for most big-name artists with a presence in the city, including James Turrell, Maya Lin and Sanford Biggers.
The public’s interaction or awareness of the works varies. The Turrell installation, for example, frames a monorail stop in the Crystals shopping mall; a separate installation by the artist in the nearby Louis Vuitton store must be booked months in advance. Lin’s 84ft-long Silver River (2009) is installed decoratively and surprisingly conspicuously above the lobby desk of the Aria casino. And a recently-acquired sculpture by Biggers at an Aria entrance has been frequently showered with gambling stubs like a lucky Buddha.
The MGM’s collaboration with Perrotin marks an example of some of the organisation’s strides to bring contemporary art to Vegas tourists, and organisers believe there is value in structuring the experience in the form of a gift shop. The high foot-traffic area arguably has the potential to engage visitors who did not travel to Vegas for its art offerings, offering the promise of a cultural memento to take home from the trip.
In a statement democratically expressing that “art is everyone”, Perrotin says he recalls that “my parents couldn’t afford to purchase art, but they loved it so much [...] so our house was always filled with posters”, adding that the experience “has been central to the development of my gallery”.