Christine Pfister

Christine Pfister
Co-Owner and Director,
Pentimenti Gallery

I was born in a wonderful, storybook-like place, in Switzerland. My hometown, Estavayer-Le-Lac, was a more than 500-year-old medieval town, nestled into a scenic setting, with snowy mountains on one side and a beautiful lake on the other. I grew into a teenager that longed to explore America, having been exposed again and again to the American dream on television through shows like Cheers and movies like Back to the Future and Rain Man.

Eventually, life brought me to the United States, where I was able to explore the country and culture I learned about through television. I traveled by either plane or car through almost every state in the U.S. (there are a few still missing on my list) and later settled and began a family in Philadelphia.

My husband, Tom, opened our gallery, Pentimenti, in 1992. After three years, he asked me to take over and give it wings to fly. I never expected to be Mrs. Pentimenti, but here I am fifteen years later, enjoying that role and the best time of my life in Philadelphia.

Many times my American colleagues have asked why I choose to live in this city, having come from such a beautiful European town. To me, Philadelphia is not only the most European city in America, but also one of the most honest. Neither the city nor the people try to be anything they are not. I have found personal fulfillment here in my relationships with art, artists, friends and family, as well as collectors and art critics alike.

There is a line between friendship and business, but I am pleased that while paying the bills, I’ve had many experiences that have brought me personal satisfaction, many coming from specific encounters with the individuals I am in business with.

My favorite relationships are the ones in which, if removed from the business, a kind of friendship would remain. There are artists who, while not represented by the gallery, are committed to supporting the program. One Brooklyn-based artist, for example, wouldn’t let bad weather, or the fact that she recently had a child, prevent her from getting to Philadelphia for an opening. There are collectors who show continuous support of my vision for Pentimenti. One evening, while I was working until midnight in the gallery, I received a phone call from a long time Pentimenti collector. He had essentially created a gallery within his own house. That night, he had spent the evening, as he often does, entertaining friends, having them over for dinner and showing them his collection. He was appreciative for being able to have the art collection he had in his home, and he called to tell me.

I feel very fortunate to have met the people who make up the interesting life that I lead. I have even experienced encouraging relationships with critics, who are known to draw a very clear line between professional and social interaction. The individuals are really what have made this journey from my hometown a rewarding one for me.

When it comes to the America I expected to find, I was even more impressed with the country than I expected to be, having drawn all my impressions through the television programs and movies that I grew up watching. Traveling throughout the United States I was charmed with the diversity and beauty, bringing to life more than Miami Vice and Rocky ever could.
Published 4/2011

Pentimenti Gallery