The role of Vienna-based gallery owner Emanuel Layr is in a way comparable to that of an orchestra conductor. In operating his gallery, he speaks of finding the right chord among the various artists he represents: "It is not about a monoculture or formulating a single thought", Layr explains. "Instead, it is about bringing together a group of artists that can be read as a statement." The challenge is to combine similarities and differences in a way that artists feel comfortable in various constellations. If one succeeds in doing so, many fruitful collaborations come about; such as Julien Bismuth and Lili Reynaud-Dewar’s recent presentation at LISTE, or Phillip Timischl and Lisa Holzer's upcoming presentation at the Frieze Art Fair in London.
When Layr was still a student, he completed several internships at galleries and at an auction house. However, he soon realized that he did not want to wait another 20 years to curate and organize his first project. In 2002, Layr began a collaboration with Thomas Wüstenhagen, who now works at Art Basel. They opened a project space close to the MuseumsQuartier, before moving to an early twentieth-century building full of character in Vienna’s city center, not far from acclaimed galleries like Galerie Nächst St. Stephan and Galerie Krinzinger. Initially called Galerie Layr Wuestenhagen, the gallery was re-established under Layr's sole directorship in March 2011.