A building and lots of people walking around

Photo London is one of the leading photographic fairs

Photo London’s ninth edition aims to integrate photography into the contemporary art world. But can it? Isabella Fergusson finds out

The cobbles of Somerset House aren’t quite bearing the catwalks of heels, neon suits and russet trousers one sees at Frieze or Art Basel. More cameras than Gucci bags slung across shoulders, more prams pushed, more WatchHouse coffee than Ruinart champagne. It seems more democratic – but to its strength or its downfall?

100 exhibitors, 44 cities worldwide: the numbers are good for London’s top photography fair, and returning galleries are strong. But, ever since photography entered the commercial world in the ‘70s, it has been seen as something of a niche by many. Its Director, Kamiar Maleki insists, however, that 2024 has seen yet more progress in cranking the door open to a contemporary art-collector-base.

man looking at picture in an art fair

This year’s Photo London is curated by Dani Matthews and entitled Shifting Horizons; photograph by Isabella Sanai

What’s happening this year that’s made it successful? ‘We’re branching out,’ he says, ‘we’re including more film, more mediums, and the car’ – he points to a navy electric car, a Lunaz, parked in the Somerset House courtyard – ‘which has been invested in by big names such as David Beckham – these have helped gain traction’. Is this because photography is not attractive enough by itself? ‘We have to entice the High Net Worths through other mediums’, he responds diplomatically. Perhaps a hint that photography alone still lacks respect; but perhaps, too, a testament to Maleki’s success in luring people into giving it the attention it deserves.

a woman in front of a daguerrotype image

Rebecca Hicks, Director of Purdy Hicks, in the reflection of a daguerrotype by Japanese photographer Takashi Arai; photographed by Joe Oswald

Photography’s technical gymnastics are exhibited with undeniable flair: see Takashi Arai’s impressive daguerrotypes, Susan Derge’s cameraless photography, laid directly over Dartmoor puddles of frogspawn, and Roope Rainisto’s AI-based works, thrumming with viewers, to a remarkable manipulation of printing mediums across the fair. The number of mediocre works was to be expected, but the number which stood out as sensational from the many Michael Jackson-type portraits was higher than one might imagine.

an exhibition room

Photo London brings together the world’s leading galleries in a major international photography Fair at Somerset House; photograph by Isabella Sanai

Sales? Well, as Rebecca Hicks, Director of Purdy Hicks, comments, the general consensus is that sales ‘remain quiet so far’. Maleki slides past the question with an ‘ask me on Tuesday!’ Fru Tholstrup, London-based art advisor and curator, though, beams with anomalous success of her showcase of Mariano Vivanco’s work from his latest book, ‘Peru’, hopping through folklore and mythology expressing striking figures between humans and animals, which one tends to associate with drawings rather than photography. Mariano remains confident in photography’s ability to leak into fine art, with a winking ‘Respect Photography, or Die!’. And he’s sold with fine art figures, too.

man standing outside a building in a suit

Kamiar Maleki, Director of Photo London; photograph by Joe Oswald

Some dealers insist they are at Photo London for the artistic exposure as much as sales. Gerber & Stauffer Fine Arts has an exhibition featuring Iranian-born Rahi Rezvani, introduced to the commercial world for the first time. Successful in luxury, performing arts and entertainment industries, he has never before sold a single print of his works.

man in front of image in of the sea

French photographer Valérie Belin has been named as the Master of Photography 2024; photograph by Isabella Sanai

But why start now? ‘People think success in photography is selling lots of photographs. I disagree. It’s about choosing carefully and selling well.’ He refuses to sell hundreds of his prints he has laid out, from a portrait of Quentin Tarantino to fiery images of dance, to a triptych covered in a natural substance he associates with sperm. Technologically, these seem extremely impressive, perhaps as or even more than those on the wall. When asked how he took them, he smiles knowingly, holding back. Brimming with confidence, he isn’t particularly interested in selling lots, but few, well-chosen ones.

That’s the way to elevate photography to the fine art world, he and Thomas Stauffer, Director of Gerber & Stauffer Fine Arts agree. Reduce the print number – even to one (in the case of his photograph ‘Willem Dafoe’) – signed with guarantee of no reproduction, and photography can have the value and respect of art. Although, in general, the knowledge that further prints can be made will always linger with all types of photography except polaroid. Even when reducing the number of editions, photography still remains on the precarious edge for established contemporary collectors.

man with red hair and blue background

Willem Dafoe, photographed by Rahi Rezvani, 2012

It’s entirely the other way around for Ana Matos, Director of Salgadeiras Arte Contemporânea. The very fact that, unlike painting, photography editions expands to an average of 5 to 7 means that it gains a democratic value, attracting a new wave of emerging millennial collectors. Such can be seen in the floor for the Nikon Emerging Photographers Award, part of Photo London. The average age decreases, buzz increases and – while sales are still reportedly quiet – the recognition and discussions are engaging a new crowd in collecting. Perhaps it’s not so much about gaining older contemporary art collectors, but shifting the next generation of collectors to photography.

man in front of an image of mountains

Photo London has two major exhibitions as part of the Public Programme, over 120 new and returning international exhibitors; photograph by Joe Oswald

And perhaps, by virtue of its less revered status, Photo London does focus more for new art and expression than collector-base. As photographer Maryam Eisler comments, ‘Photo London is a place of discovery and new talent.’ One can meet the photographs at eye-level, rather than kneel before them, and the fair is focused on the artform itself, and forming a snapshot of its growing identity and credibility. One feels closer to it all, somehow. And – as Eisler also points out – this is aided by its ‘excellent satellite programme of talks and critical thinking.’

reflection of a woman taking a picture in front of a picture

Photo London 2024 features over 400 photographers from around the globe; photograph by Joe Oswald

Photography remains on the sideline of established contemporary art; sales seem quiet. But, stripped of the catwalk-tendency of many art fairs, which can distract from the art itself, the model of a fair where art is accessible and thought about, rather than prized solely for sales, may be commercially more challenging, but is extremely refreshing. And, though established collectors may not dive into buying, photography might just present a more democratic art world – with a long way to go.

Photo London runs at Somerset House from 16-19 May 2024

See More: photolondon.org

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two men black and white standing next to each other

Alain Servais is an investment banker and collector of art-as-ideas, whose family collection is showcased in The Loft, a repurposed factory in central Brussels. In a conversation moderated by LUX’s Leaders & Philanthropists editor, Samantha Welsh, Servais speaks with South Asian philanthropist and collector, Durjoy Rahman, about supporting artists who give minorities a voice and make people think.

two men black and white standing next to each other

Alain Servais (left) and Durjoy Rahman (right). Photo montage by Isabel Phillips

LUX: How has business shaped your your passion for art?

DURJOY RAHMAN: I started my career at a very young age when I started my business in textiles and garments production. It was when I started exporting that I found that I experienced a negative perception about Bangladesh. I had to engage in a kind of cultural diplomacy when I went to business meetings! I would talk positively about the good things happening in Bangladesh, sharing what was interesting for buyers in course of business development.

ALAIN SERVAIS: For me it was about filling a gap rather than part of my business plan. Investment banking is about trying to understand human nature, anticipating what will happen, asking questions, maybe about the effects of a societal drift to the far right, or changing attitudes to minorities, the potential disruption from new tech and social media, and so on. So understanding herd instinct is very important. In its way it’s pretty sterile as it is all about money. You are missing the voices of so many different people. That is what is interesting in Art.

LUX: How did you become interested in art?

AS: I have no collector-parents, no experience of studying or making art at all, I fell into art by accident. It’s about the convergence of those interesting parts of human nature, professional and private, a kind of curiousness. And that came from working in investment banking, because you are so used to absorbing a massive amount of data and opinion to make decisions.

DR: It was an accident for me too. I was visiting New York and I first saw the silk screens of Marilyn Monroe and Ingrid Bergmann (which in fact I eventually collected). I decided to license and reprint the graphics on a European fashion brand T-shirt, by Replay I remember. It was this fashion x art collaboration which catalysed my art journey.

LUX: So discovery is a big part of your vision?

DR: Yes, I was frequently away on business in Europe and North America, and I would visit the many galleries and museums as I was passing through, always noticing the contrast with South Asia, where we had few institutions despite our long cultural heritage and traditional practices. So that’s why I decided that one day I would do something about it by creating a platform of my own.

AS: I love traveling, discovering other cultures, getting close to parts of the world that people have prejudice and ignorance about.  I had the chance to go to Bangladesh and discovered a totally different, very rich culture. The way I process the experience is through bringing back works of art.

LUX: Should collectors open the door to alternative realities?

AS: We should stop making out that collectors are Superman/woman! We are just human beings finding outlets in art, revealing society’s many problems in the process.  This is about my own interest in contemporary culture.  I have a real problem with nostalgia and the selfishness of it all.

sculptures free standing in studio

Artworks in a 2019-2020 exhibition at The Loft, the 900 square meter space which has housed the Servais family collection since 2010.

LUX: Is this why you collect ‘emerging’ artists?

AS: Emerging artists for me are the artists who are not selling-out to that nostalgic drive. It’s about the art created today that is worth preserving. Every major museum on the planet is based on the private collections of a few crazy collectors who plugged into whatever was going on in society at that time and collected artists who were expressing that in a particularly advanced way. For instance, forty years ago, Sophie Calle the French installation artist was already anticipating social media and reality shows – people want to watch people. So it’s about collecting and preserving artists’ works really early on, when Society does not yet understand their message.

DR: I agree, I really dislike the term ‘emerging artist’! These are claims not accurate predictions of who will be a great artist. In the art world, there is a structure, a platform, discipline, practice, so we can to an extent deduce who may emerge to be a strong or great artist. As to how successful they will be, that is far harder to judge. If you look at Bangladesh, Bangladesh is only 52 years old, so most artists here have actually been ‘emerging’ since 1971 ie post-Independence. DBF supports artists from this period and empowers them to create innovative bodies of work, influenced by social change. It’s about their context, their transmission of their knowledge and their influences.

sofas in room with art on walls

Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation Creative Studio in Dhaka features works from around the Global South including, ‘Orator’ By William Kentridge (right) and ‘Rise of a Nation’ By Raghu Rai (left)

AS: Yes, yesterday I bought an innovative work from an artist from Bali. She had been totally underestimated to the extent she had never, in fact, even been called an ‘emerging artist’. She had, though, created new narratives through traditional Balinese painting and coloration, all pretty outrageous and about sexual liberation, lots of crazy images of penises, vaginas and everything. A good artist is someone that sends a message to the world, and a good collector is the one that understands this message before the masses. They are two sides of the same coin.

LUX: How is art messaging the voices of minority artists?

DR: We should first define what ‘minority’ means. After all, it means different things to different people. Sometimes, I feel like a minority when I enter the room at an event in the global North! It can be discomforting but I get over it with introductions and conversations.

AS: Yes, Durjoy, you’re right, you are a minority when traveling, and I am even an minority in Belgium – because when people visit The Loft they don’t get the art at all and probably think my kids should be taken into care! We are both minorities because we are both free-thinking individuals and non-conformists.

free standing art

The Great Revel of Hairy Harry Who Who: Orgy in the cellar, 2015, by Athena Papadopoulos, in Dérapages & Post-bruises Imaginaries, the 2018-2019 exhibition at The Loft in Brussels.

DR: With the minority artists in Bangladesh, it’s not just about their religion or social status but can be about differences in cultural practice. For example, the remote Hill Tracts indigenous communities in Bangladesh are considered to be minorities, so when we talk about the cultural heritage of Bangladesh, DBF showcases their arts and crafts to the global North. By shining a light on their art we are bringing them into the discourse and including them in society. With our Future of Hope program during Covid, we included these indigenous artists from the Hill Tracts and two have become very prominent right now. Similarly, we took our project for Kochi Biennale from the remote northern region of Bangladesh. This was a very significant artwork created by ethnic communities who would never have been exhibited on the world stage.

sculpture of women dancing

Installation view of Bhumi, with support from The Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation, at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India.

AS: I learn a lot from the artists from the global South. Recently, I bought a work by a photographer from Bangladesh. It is an image around infrastructure, bridges, highways and I wanted it not just because I loved the aesthetic but because the message around it was deliberately unfinished. After I’d bought the work, not before, I made sure I sat next to the photographer at the festival dinner and was grateful for the experience of talking with him, on equal terms. It is a two-way business.

LUX: What is the responsibility of the audience toward the artist?

DR: Artists practice as they wish. It’s how the audience accepts their work that is the question. As a collector and as a founder of a foundation, we open up the opportunity for a deeper engagement from the audience with the artist’s social concerns. These activations are beyond direct action and inventions, creating a positive ripple effect. You have to ask yourself, ‘Am I here to change the world or to support a range of alternatives?’ We enable artists to create bodies of work that widen their potential for recognition on the world stage by bringing awareness of their voice and their cause.

portraits of women

Parables of the Womb by Dilara Begum Jolly at DBF Creative Studio.

AS: As far as the responsibility of the artist is concerned, I don’t like the quasi-deification of the artist. There are so many bad artists around! It is not enough to call yourself an artist to be an artist. I was with a collector in Istanbul last week and he told me he had reserved an exhibition space for a solo exhibition by an emerging artist, emphasising it had to be an artist with no gallery representation. It was to be for six weeks. He actually refused the the first offer, saying “I want to see if artists will fight for it!” For him, the fighting was an important element as so many artists were not thinking about what they are doing and why they were doing it.

LUX: Where do you think your art philanthropy will be, ten years’ from now?

DR: With DBF, we want to be an influential and vital activist who has used the power of art and culture to good effect, to make positive, impactful change in terms of social justice. I agree with Alain, we must question everything and that curiosity must inform our vision for the next decade.

a loft with art in it

Servais hosts exhibitions from his collection of international contemporary artists at The Loft, where he also hosts artists’ residencies.

AS: Because governments are funding the arts the arts less and less, I spend more and more time documenting the works I’m acquiring! I’m doing this to record for posterity the complexity of the artist’s thinking. I hope institutions give more power to curators to offer opportunities to interesting artists so we have the vital two-way discussions. I think we are going to go through extremely difficult times and I would not like to be this young generation. We need people like Durjoy, we need these discourses, we must give people a voice, and we must make people think!

 

Find out more: durjoybangladeshfoundation.org

Servais Family Collection on Instagram: @collectionservais

 

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Reading time: 9 min
A man wearing a green, yellow and purple colourful top putting on red sunglasses
A man wearing a green, yellow and purple colourful top putting on red sunglasses

Edoardo Monti

In the seventh part of our Italy art focus series, curated by Umberta Beretta, LUX speaks to Edoardo Monti, who at 26 established an artist residency at his family’s 13th-century Brescia palazzo. Since 2017, it has already hosted more than 200 artists from 50 countries

LUX: Palazzo Monti is very significant architecturally. Does it influence your artists?
Edoardo Monti: The palazzo has a powerful effect. It is calming, it has stunning light and there is lots of space, so you can focus on your art in private during the day, but there is always someone in the communal spaces to chat with. The city, too, leaves an imprint. Bergamo and Brescia are Italian Capital of Culture 2023, and there are many cultural activities and museums that help with research and production. Lastly, there are the artists: they create a beautiful bond that carries on after they leave Italy.

A table and chairs in a room with art leaning on the walls

Pescatarians in the Hands of an Angry God, 2017, by Chloe Wise; Edo a Tavola, 2019, by Maria Fragola, and Late Breakfast, 2019, by Kyle Vu-Dunn, at Palazzo Monti

LUX: How do you choose the artists?
EM: We receive more than 700 monthly requests. We don’t care whether artists studied or are self taught, where they live or their age. We just look for art we have never seen before.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: What is your favourite Palazzo artwork?
EM: I can’t get enough of Interior III by Christina Kimeze. It shows the artist and my dog, Beatrice.

A painting of a green monster on top of a wooden table

View of Nobody Like You/ Nobody’s Going to F*ck Me Like Me, 2019, by Sophie Spedding at Palazzo Monti

LUX: You worked for 10 years at Stella McCartney. Why did you change direction?
EM: I left Italy at 18, so it felt natural to move back when I was 26 and live as an adult in the country I love. Then there was the palazzo, where I had never lived, but which I thought had so much potential, and wanted to help express. Lastly, I had started collecting art at 14 – mainly figurative art, which is still a main focus – and I wanted to dedicate myself to my passion, working with artists from around the world.

LUX: What were the challenges?
EM: I missed NYC for a while, but Italy is pretty awesome, too. The challenge was to become known in the art world, which we did through social media and our alumni, as each becomes an ambassador back in their own city.

A white marble staircase in a hallway with painted walls and large wooden doors

A view of the Palazzo Monti with hints of its art residencies

LUX: Do you choose the artists to fit together?
EM: We don’t strategise. We host three artists at a time, and have been lucky to have groups that bonded. We have a large communal kitchen and dining area, where we often enjoy dinners together. We can’t guarantee positive experiences, nor wish to impose a social life. We respect that some artists come to enjoy living in a centuries-old palazzo and to work in our large studios.

Read more: Italy Art Focus: Arturo Galansino

LUX: What are your aspirations now for Palazzo Monti?
EM: We want to work more with curators so our artists have even more support. We are also opening our exhibition spaces to other projects, as we become more of a cultural centre with a residency, exhibitions and a private museum.

Find out more: palazzomonti.org

This article comes from a section of a wider feature originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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Collage of black and white digital artworks

A collage of works from Ash Thorp’s ‘Nascent’ series (2022)

California-based Ash Thorp is a digital artist who creates complex, conceptual artworks. LUX met him recently at a solo show of his works on the giant screens of the W1 Curates space in Soho, London, during the Frieze Art Fair, an exhibition supported by uber-creative super luxury watch brand Richard Mille. We caught up with him in his studio in San Diego, southern California, to speak about past projects, future plans, and the tide of digital art.

LUX: You first started with traditional art and then transferred into digital art. Does digital art creates more of a dialogue between the art and viewer than traditional art?
Ash Thorp: All forms of art serve diverse purposes and employ their own unique mechanisms to engage viewers. For me, the key distinction with the dialogue digital art creates is its symbiotic relationship with the advancement of humanity. Technology plays a pivotal role in shaping our world in this current era and digital art is intricately linked to it. It mirrors the current state of our society and reflects our ongoing transformation as a species. This connection introduces multifaceted levels of engagement, contributing utility and value, not just to the artist but also to the audience.

LUX: You have mentioned a 80/20 rule in our discussions about your art.  Can you elaborate this?
AT: I strive to supply 80% of the context and intention of the artwork, and then invite you, the viewer, to extrapolate and complete the remaining 20% based on your own narration. The hope of this artistic intention is to prompt you to apply your own personal values, make predictions, form estimations, and view the piece through your unique lens. My role is merely to provide an initial platform upon which you can create further dialogue. I believe that art is most potent when it transforms into a conversation between the creator’s intent and the viewer’s interpretation by provoking questions, stimulating thoughts, and evoking emotions.

I welcome and value this engagement with my work, urging viewers to explore further and contemplate the underlying themes and ideas that elicit their thoughts and feelings.

An array of brightly coloured pills

The Happiness Pills from Thorp’s ‘Nascent’ Series’

LUX: Is training in traditional art fundamental to the practice of digital art?
AT: I believe in order to develop a profound understanding of any chosen pursuit, it is important to understand its origin and then dedicate yourself to its further exploration. This journey of self-discovery involves understanding one’s place in the artistic landscape, appreciating the work of those who came before, and gaining insights into how they expressed themselves. My early exposure to the traditional fundamentals of art during my formative years provided invaluable insights into the development of my current artistic practice. Absorbing as much knowledge as possible from all pathways will help cultivate a diverse and enriched mind, thereby benefitting both the individual and the broader world.

LUX: AI is, of course, the buzz topic of the current moment. How do you think it will shape our view of digital art?
AT: The ever-present allure of being introduced to anything new and technologically significant is a phenomenon that can be very captivating; in the realm of art currently, this is the integration of AI. While AI can provide an alluring spectrum of possibilities, allowing it to assume a dominant role in the creative process doesn’t evoke the same intrinsic value for me. I believe the essence of artistry is found in the triumphs and pitfalls, of creating it, and being able to experience the pure joy and raw emotions resulting from personal exploration and discovery.

Two images on panels one dark and one light

Balaclava by Ash Thorp from the ‘Nascent’ series

LUX: Do you feel that the AI-employed art is still yours?
AT: The ethical considerations surrounding the use of AI, particularly in generating content, hinge on the specifics of the training model and the group of data utilized. Before AI, plagiarism was more easily tracked back to a distinct source and straightforwardly deemed a transgression in any form of communication. Now we seem to be entering a new era without transparency and a range of polarizing answers to this question. The implications of this ongoing debate will profoundly change the art industry and the world. Ultimately, our actions should not deprive oneself or others of an authentic mind and voice.

LUX: In terms of collecting and selling, how will new concepts such as crypto art, blockchain and NFTs change finances in the art world?
AT: The value of art has always been subjective, based on its own unique currency determined by those who acknowledge and collect it, but not always made public. Blockchain and NFT technology facilitate an evolution of this valuation process by transparently enhancing the public tracking of changes in ownership and value. Works of the past involve an extensive review process to determine proprietorship and authenticity which can now be more easily verified with technology.

LUX: You recently featured at Frieze London collaborating with W1 Curates, Seth Troxler and Richard Mille. How did you find the collaboration and do you enjoy digital art’s interdisciplinary possibilities?
AT: Showcasing an art exhibition during Frieze London was a monumental and wonderful experience. I greatly enjoyed working with everyone at W1 Curates and being introduced to Seth Troxler and the team at Richard Mille. Bridging the relationship across multiple industries through art created such a profound moment which everyone celebrated and commemorated together. This blending of media should hopefully inspire others to continue to follow suit with future collaborations and more venues, as it truly creates a surreal magical experience.

LUX: You have a particular interest in cars. What inspires you about them?
AT: My fascination with cars is a childhood passion that has endured time. The love of cars encapsulates so many aspects I cherish in life: the intricate design, precise engineering, scientific underpinnings, technological marvels, and the connection between humans and machines. I don’t merely see cars as vehicles of transportation. I enjoy the mental retreat to a space of childlike innocence, and perceive the deep-rooted romance within them.

Two art pictures side by side, the first of the back of white heads and the second of a robot like sculpture

Following by Ash Thorp from the ‘Nascent’ series

LUX: How has your digital art changed over time?

AT: Previously my work was primarily recognized on feature films like the Batman, but now I’m also able to showcase the more personal evolution of my digital art with blockchain technology. I’ve found the opportunity to delve deeply into a personal journey of my thoughts and curiosities. It’s a transformative journey that has significantly shaped both my perspective and my artistic endeavors, granting me the sovereignty to explore.

LUX: What are your upcoming projects and where do you see your art heading?
AT: I’m currently engaged in several exciting projects that cannot be disclosed just yet until their public release. As for the direction of my art, my overarching objective is to continue self-discovery, to understand further why I create this work, and to recurrently explore the fundamental answers to life.

We’re talking over Zoom and email. Though technology facilitates our distanced conversation – San Diego to London – in my opinion, it is less personal than an in person meeting. Are there areas of digital art which, relying on technology rather than the body or physical tools, make the relationship to the artist less personal? If so, does it matter?
Art curation is necessary and often overlooked in the digital space, primarily due to the convenience of technology.  Traditional works often demand a dedicated physical visit to a specific gallery or institution, which assists a narrative that it must be of higher value and experience. The challenge for digital art lies in finding opportunities for it be equitably appreciated and valued, for it to be seen to enhance our lives as much as any other form of art.

Find out more: www.altcinc.com

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A woman wearing a balck top and large diamond necklace standing net to a wall with frames and black boxes in the frames
A woman wearing a balck top and large diamond necklace standing net to a wall with frames and black boxes in the frames

Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

In the first part of our Italy art focus series, curated by Umberta Beretta, LUX speaks to Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo who founded her fondazione in Turin in 1995. Today, the extraordinary initiatives of Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo include transforming an abandoned Venetian island into a beacon for art and ecology

LUX: What was the first artwork you bought?
Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo: Anish Kapoor’s Blood Stone. It was on a trip to London in 1992 that changed my life.

LUX: What drives you to support art education?
PSRR: When we started in the 1990s, contemporary art received little attention in Italy. Education defines the fondazione’s identity and builds awareness of contemporary art in Italy. We offer a rich programme for schools, families and vulnerable people, and we train teachers. Our Young Curators Residency Programme sees three international graduate curators curate a joint exhibition from the work of artists they meet in Italy during a three-month stay. This develops curatorship and places Italian art in a global context. Campo is a similar course we have for Italian graduates.

books in glass boxes in a library

A view of the Lucas Arruda exhibition at the Ateneo de Madrid

LUX: What are ArtColLab and Verso?
PSRR: ArtColLab is our non-profit project to produce collaborations between artists and designers in order to help widen engagement in art – for example, Nicholas Kirkwood and Paul Kneale created beautiful limited edition shoes. Verso focuses on empowering people aged 15 to 29 in democratic processes. It is an experimental, poetic pedagogical model of exhibitions, workshops and more, on themes of citizenship, inclusion and the collective construction of possible futures.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Tell us about your philanthropy in Spain.
PSRR: I love Spain and we established the Fundación Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Madrid in 2017. Madrid is a global capital and a bridge to Latin America. The fundación is now nomadic. We presented Lucas Arruda at the Ateneo in Madrid in 2023 and we’ve also brought the Young Curators Residency Programme to Spain.

A red ball of paint on a white wall with red paint dripping

1000 Pieces, 1983, by Anish Kapoor

LUX: Who are the artists exciting you today?
PSRR: Globally, they include the painters Michael Armitage and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, and the work of Josh Kline, Marguerite Humeau, and Klára Hosnedlová. In Italy, works by Giulia Cenci, Giulia Andreani, Guglielmo Castelli and Ludovica Carbotta have joined the collection.

installations in a gallery including one with a bright green light

Installation view of Rough Rides, Police States, Broken Windows, 2015, by Josh Kline; Vandal Lust, 2011, and Slavs and Tatars, Mystical Protest, 2011, both by Andra Ursuţa, at the fondazione’s recent show, “Backwards Ahead”

LUX: What is the San Giacomo recovery project?
PSRR: This island, a military site abandoned for more than 60 years, will become an outpost of dreams, a place to produce and show art, and host research and discourse on contemporary culture.

Read more: Italy Art Focus: Umberta Beretta

With its delicate lagoon ecosystem, we will implement principles of sustainability and energy transition there. The fondazione will enable San Giacomo to become a meeting place for artists, environmentalists and the public.

An island with a house on it in the middle of the sea

The isola San Giacomo, which has been a pilgrim refuge, a place of quarantine and a military site, is being transformed by the fondazione in the name of art

LUX: What will be your legacy?
PSRR: I hope I am giving back to the community what I have been fortunate to learn during 30 years in contemporary art. Time passes and I think of my two sons, who are also passionate about art, so I am building something that will take on new shapes with future generations.

 fsrr.org

This article comes from a section of a wider feature originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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A man in a suit looking at an artwork on the wall
A man in a suit looking at an artwork on the wall

Patrick Sun at the exhibition “Myth Makers – Spectrosynthesis III”, JC Contemporary, Tai Kwun, Hong Kong

One of Asia’s bravest, most significant and most understated art philanthropists, Patrick Sun speaks to LUX about the challenges LGBTQ artists face in Asia, and who he is collecting

Patrick Sun has a light touch. When we bump into him at an art event in Singapore, he chats joshingly with some of the other collectors and exchanges thoughts on which parties to attend, or avoid. But his mission is anything but light.

A Hong Kong native, educated in Canada, Sun made his fortune in property development in his home territory, all the while turning his attention to philanthropy with a purpose. His Sunpride Foundation supports LGBTQ artists and art in a region where they have traditionally been sidelined or suppressed.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Sunpride has supported and co-hosted a series of shows entitled “Spectrosynthesis”, which started as the first LGBTQ themed exhibition staged in an art museum in Asia. Sun collects art from Asian artists with an aim to support LGBTQ creators. Beneath the light touch is a serious purpose, and an awareness of the suffering many LGBTQ artists face, particularly in more conservative Asian cultures.

A painting of two men with a white flower on one's face and a pink flower on the other's

Hollyhock and Pure Daisies, 2020, by Yue Minjun

Sun chatted with us after our meeting in Singapore. He has raised a great deal of awareness in a short space of time, but there is a long way to go in a continent where homosexuality is illegal in several countries, and has a cultural stigma in others.

LUX: What recent acquisitions are you most excited by, and why?
Patrick Sun: I can think of two that are each significant in their own way. First, Yue Minjun’s Hollyhock and Pure Daisies: a portrait of gay icon Leslie Cheung and his partner, which features two flowers that are not supposed to bloom in the same season, representing the love between a couple who are not “meant” to be together. Second is Visitors by Bhupen Khakhar. We have always wanted to collect Bhupen Khakhar‘s paintings, but since his retrospective at Tate Modern in 2016, good works are rare to come by and prices have skyrocketed, often reaching several times the high estimate at auctions.

A woman wearing a gold dress and crown standing with two other people

Artist Ming Wong, Patrick Sun and artist Korakrit Arunanondchai at the “Spectrosynthesis II” opening party, Bangkok, 2019

When we saw Visitors, a beautiful painting that was to be auctioned in London, we asked for a private viewing and got to meet a Sotheby’s expert, Ishrat, who is passionate about Khakhar’s work. The painting shows the artist lying on his deathbed, revisited by spirits of past friends and lovers. Ishrat shared how Bhupen didn’t paint any explicit scenes concerning his sexuality until his mother passed away. She got emotional as she related the story and it also brought tears to my eyes, because it dawned on me that the year my mother died was the year I started Sunpride. Ishrat and I cried on each other’s shoulders and did the utmost to help us procure the work, concluding the purchase just hours before it was supposed to go under the hammer.

A painting people in a box

Visitors, 1998, by Bhupen Khakhar

LUX: Do you only collect works by LGBTQ artists?
PS: As illustrated by the Yue Minjun work, the answer is no. We also collect works by straight artists that explore a queer theme. It is important to have such representation, so that nobody needs to be labelled or “outed” through their participation in our collection or exhibitions.

A man in a pink jumper sitting down speaking to someone wearing a blue jumper and grey gilet

Patrick Sun with collector Rudy Tseng

LUX: Is real progress being made on LGBTQ affairs in Asia?
PS: Progress often comes in ebbs and flows. On the whole, I see more progress than regress towards the queer community. Take Hong Kong as an example: on issues such as spousal visas, taxation and housing benefits, there has been some advancement in the right direction. Just in February 2023, transgender people scored a victory in gender status on identification documents. I remain optimistic things will change for the better.

a person walking in an art gallery

Installation at “Spectrosynthesis II”, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre 7/F, BACC, 2019

LUX: Do artists of all types have more freedom and creativity than a few years back?
PS: I am not in a position to answer for all artists, but for queer artists in Hong Kong I believe the answer is affirmative. In recent years, we have had more LGBTQ themed exhibitions, both in public and private spaces. We have also seen more presentation of such works in art fairs and galleries.

Two people speaking to each other by a wall with a picture of a beach and paintings on top of it

Sun with artist Yuki Kihara at Kihara’s installation, Paradise Camp, New Zealand Pavillion, 59th Venice Biennale, 2022

LUX: What are the most exciting places in Asia for art?
PS: I think Hong Kong and Tokyo are two very exciting cities to focus on. Art Basel returned to Hong Kong in full force in March 2023, and the excitement was palpable and invigorating. I also have very good feelings about Tokyo when it comes to queer art: the sentiments are ripening for a more diverse and inclusive society, and a new art fair will take place in July 2023.

colourful embroidery and bowls laid on the floor

Installation view featuring Conundrum Ka Sorga (To Heaven), 2019, by Anne Samat, at “Myth Makers – Spectrosynthesis III”, JC Contemporary, Tai Kwun, Hong Kong, 2022

LUX: Singapore is getting a creative glow, but will it catch up with Hong Kong for art?
PS: I have never felt there is a need to pitch one city against the other. If there is competition I believe it would be a healthy one. The market in Asia is certainly big enough to accommodate two or more art hubs.

A man in a blue jacket speaking to a man in a brown jacket

Patrick Sun with collector Disaphol Chansiri

LUX: Are you pessimistic or optimistic about the future of creativity in Asia?
PS: I am by nature an optimist, and I believe that a positive attitude helps attract the right energy, especially creative energy.

LUX: What are the most interesting advances in digital art?
PS: Interactive installations and generative creations are two developments I find most interesting. Both use technology to reach beyond capabilities of the human mind.

A man wearing a red and white turban in a dessert

Patrick Sun

LUX: Will AI kill art?
PS: I see AI as a way for humans to explore new horizons and perspectives. It is a collaboration between human and machines rather than a rivalry. I believe AI can enhance our artistic culture and diversity instead of diminishing it.

LUX: How have events in the past couple of years affected your mission?
PS: Our mission remains unchanged since the foundation’s establishment in 2014, but Covid has inevitably affected some plans. Our most recent exhibition, “Myth makers – Spectrosynthesis III”, at Tai Kwun, Hong Kong, was meant to be held concurrently with Gay Games in Hong Kong, originally planned for 2022. We were aiming for synergy between arts and sports to enhance acceptance for the LGBTQ community.

blue screens with people in a black room

Passion, 2017, by Jun-Jieh Wang, at “Spectrosynthesis”, MOCA Taipei, 2017

Gay Games postponed its event due to the pandemic, but we decided to stay put. With Covid-related curbs, it was also difficult for our curatorial team to reach out to overseas artists to commission works and to get them to fly here for installations.

Read more: Art Dubai opens in support of South Asian artists

However, staging the exhibition in Hong Kong, where our curators and myself are based, helped to minimise the impact of this issue. There was actually a sliver lining, because we benefitted in having a broader local representation; more than one-third of the artworks presented in “Myth Makers” were created by artists based in Hong Kong.

Find out more: sunpride.hk

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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A man in a yellow dress and white trousers wearing a black cardigan standing with a woman in blue dress in front of a multicoloured net hanging from the ceiling

Durjoy Rahman is a collector of Rana Begum’s mesmerising works

The second of the LUX dialogues co-hosted with the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation covers the hot topic of artists from a region long overlooked despite a powerful legacy and thriving local artistic culture

South Asia was, until recently, dramatically underrepresented in the global art world. Contemporary and historical artists from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan had few champions on the world stage, and their home countries often lacked the infrastructure or cultural will to support them. In this fascinating dialogue, moderated by LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai, British-Bangladeshi artist Rana Begum chats with Dhaka-based philanthropist Durjoy Rahman, Founder of the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation, about how things are changing, Western perceptions, and whether everything can be blamed on colonialism or post-colonial legacy

LUX: Durjoy, for artists from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, is private patronage needed, with institutions not as strong as in wealthier countries?

Durjoy Rahman: Private patronage is essential for the development of art and its ecosystem in South Asia. Western art practices are organised, with support systems between government and private institutions. That’s missing in South Asia. Art and culture have historically been important, but during colonialism, what are now India, Pakistan and Bangladesh were controlled by the British, who didn’t promote them. After independence, there was the Bombay Progressive Arts Group (PAG), but no significant structural developments – and there have been religious and political tensions. Interest has grown in the past two decades but, I think, not yet into in the wider communities.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Rana Begum: I feel, in arts terms, that India got attention, Pakistan struggled along, Bangladesh was left behind. It’s only in the past decade, since people like Durjoy have created support networks, that art and attitudes towards it are changing. Durjoy, I think you have three works of mine, and that shows a seriousness that artists require to survive and grow.

LUX: Rana, as a Bangladesh-born, UK-based artist, has the perception of you and your art changed?

RB: I remember, as an artist studying and growing in the UK, being pigeonholed as a “female Muslim artist from Bangladesh”. I tried hard to not be restricted as that – you have to be careful how you and your work are perceived. I see myself as a Bangladeshi-British artist. Ironically, to make it into institutional collections you must meet certain criteria. I don’t fulfil Bangladeshi criteria for a certain institute; I fall under the British category – a bigger pond to select artists from. There are positives and negatives. In terms of my career trajectory, it really started at Dhaka, 2014. That’s where it took off.

red, blue, yellow and green glass frames on grass outside a building

Rana Begum’s works blur the boundaries between sculpture, painting and architecture

DR: Before that, people were aware of your practices but didn’t have access to your work. With, say, the basketwork at Dhaka, people saw you take a local material and transform it. So you have been in our ecosystem, but were not properly presented until then.

LUX: Rana, is this an historical moment for art from South Asia? Are we seeing change in its creation, perception and global transmission?

Rana Begum: I saw a shift when I first exhibited at Dhaka Art Summit in 2014. It was amazing to see an international audience. I’ve seen artists’ visibility grow since – and politics around #MeToo and race has meant female artists and artists of colour have become more visible. It’s great to see the calibre of artists in the limelight having the success they deserve.

LUX: So if we had this conversation 10 years ago, would there have been less recognition in Europe of South Asian art?

DR: For the past decade, there has been great momentum around South Asian art, so yes, there was less then. But interest in South East Asian art started around the millennium, and grew with events like Art Dubai.

A woman spraying paint on a canvas wearing a mask

The geometric patterns in Rana Begum’s works are influenced by Islamic art

RB: Curators and institutes are more aware of what to do to be multicultural and grow a multicultural audience, and galleries are looking for artists working in different ways. My relationship with Jhaveri Contemporary has opened up a wider South Asian collector base. Slowly, things are shifting in how the art worlds work in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, and they support each other, which gives a strong base for artists.

LUX: Thinking of your 2022 show at Pitzhanger, Rana, how important is it for people to understand your history when they see your works?

RB: Not at all. My work is about experience and what the viewer achieves from it, so, for me, my culture or gender doesn’t dictate that. I can see that background can give an insight, but, for me, it’s not significant.

LUX: Durjoy, what needs to happen around South Asian art in the next ten years in Europe and the States?

DR: South Asian institutions and corporate bodies should build connections with Western institutions, so our voice is heard and our art is seen. UK-produced work is not considered as South Asian or as produced by a South Asian diaspora, so those areas need highlighting. Regional tensions also need straightening out to develop the ecosystem. And I agree with Rana about Bangladesh: we only gained independence in 1971, and there are tensions that must go to get to the next step.

Read more: Liza Essers and Durjoy Rahman on art and the Global South

RB: Having a collector, like Durjoy, is a huge factor. Some artists wouldn’t have opportunities to develop without collectors. It’s also important that artists get support from other artists in positions to give it. For me, the opportunity to go to Bangladesh to see Durjoy is a chance to see what’s going on and what can be done.

LUX: Durjoy, you have three of Rana’s works. What fascinates you personally about her work?

DR: I actually have four of Rana’s series – her paperwork came to my collection from her 2022 Cristea Roberts Gallery exhibition. Rana’s work has many elements that move me – I saw Folds as kites, which are important in Bangladesh, where we have a famous kite festival. Net reminded me of the fishing nets of Sylhet, where Rana is from. She also uses a green that resembles the green of the Bangladesh flag. There is a particular motif that looks like a river flowing, and our rivers look like that exotic pattern. Rana’s work is influenced by Islamic architecture, but I also see it from a Bangladesh perspective.

A woman wearing jeans and a black t shirt standing in front of multicoloured nets hanging on a wall

Rana Begum’s art distils spatial and visual experience into ordered form

LUX: Rana, what’s next for you?

RB: I’m working on some US projects; there’s a site-specific installation at the Dhaka Art Summit; and Dappled Light is touring to Concrete, Dubai from 26 February, then to The Box, London, and to St Albans, where I grew up.

LUX: Fantastic. Durjoy, is there anything you would like to ask Rana?

DR: I would just offer my appreciation and recommendation – keep doing what you are doing; engage through the community and your practice, especially the charity work I have the pleasure to attend. Communities need you, collectors need you. Keep doing those good things.

Find out more:

durjoybangladeshfoundation.org

ranabegum.com

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Reading time: 6 min
red classic car by a lake
A palace in the mountains with trees around it

Gstaad Palace

Maarten Ten Holder, Managing Director of Bonhams Motoring, tells LUX his top picks for The Gstaad Sale in Switzerland ahead of the sale on 3rd July 2022. The sale features cars being sold up to £1,900,000

When you handle some of the world’s rarest, most exotic and most valuable collector cars, it makes sense to sell them in the most beautiful locations. Bonhams is fortunate to have salerooms at the Grand Palais in Paris, overlooking the Grand Prix circuit in Monaco and on the lawns of the world-famous Monterey Car Week. To this glittering roster, we have added the chic Alpine resort of Gstaad where we will be hosting our eponymous sale on Sunday 3 July.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The venue for this boutique sale is the Gstaad Palace, celebrity haunt for the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, Roger Moore, and the perfect backdrop for the automotive art we will be presenting – what is more, the general manager is a classic car enthusiast, so we will be in good company!

silver 2010 Lamborghini Reventon Roadster 6 with a pile of orange stones behind it and mountains in the background

2010 Lamborghini Reventon Roadster

Rather fittingly for our jet-set audience, our sale is led by a jet-inspired hypercar – a 2010 Lamborghini Reventon supercar (estimate CHF 1,850,000-2,200,000). This was the most extreme Lamborghini to date when unveiled in the late Noughties. Its aeronautic styling is matched by blistering performance thanks to its 6.5-litre V12 engine. It has a top speed of 205mph and accelerates from 0-100km/h in 3.4 seconds and even has a G-force meter for that ‘Top Gun’ moment. This Reventon is as new, having had only two owners, the second, the vendor, never having driven it!

A red 1991 Ferrari F40 on a track with grass

1991 Ferrari F40

Lamborghini’s great rival, Ferrari, also features in this sale, with no less than six supercars and grand tourers offered. Looming in the Reventon’s rear-view mirror is a 1991 Ferrari F40 (estimate CHF 1,600,000 – 2,000,000), considered one of the last great ‘analogue’ supercars.

Red Ferrari on a road with stones by it

1972 Ferrari 365 GTB:4 ‘Daytona’ Berlinetta

Introduced to celebrate Enzo Ferrari’s 40 years as a motor manufacturer, the F40 was the last model to be personally overseen by ‘the old man’ before he died in 1988. A thinly disguised racing car, with its panels of carbon fibre and that unmistakable high rear aerofoil, the F40 was the first production passenger car to have a top speed of more than 200 mph. It’s no wonder that F40s have been owned by the great and the good from Formula 1 champions such as Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost to Il Maestro, Luciano Pavarotti.

Black and white 2020 Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport with green mountains and clouds in the background

2020 Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport

Another racing-derived car is a 2020 Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport, (estimate CHF 390,000 – 500,000). The high-performance version of the evergreen 911 was produced to meet the regulations for GT2 sports car racing. Th even more powerful RS version set a new lap record at the infamous Nürburgring last year.

This one-owner example has covered fewer than 300 kms and has never been raced, although it is fully-equipped for motorsport with its ‘Clubsport’ package including FIA rollcage, Recaro racing seat and racing dampers.

Read more: Switzerland, our top pick for summer

Classic models from the motoring world’s most prestigious marques, such as Aston Martin, Mercedes-Benz, Rolls-Royce and Bentley, will also be gracing the Gstaad Palace this weekend.

A black Monteverdi 1969 in front of a green garage

1969 Monteverdi 375S Coupe

However also lining up is a less familiar name: Monteverdi, a Swiss marque of the 1960s and 1970s – the brainchild of BMW dealer Peter Monteverdi. Wanting to produce a Swiss rival to Ferrari, he matched American power with European styling and luxurious interiors. Two of these rarities will be offered, including the 1969 Geneva Salon show car, a 1969 575S Coupé.

red classic car by a lake

1956 Alfa Romeo 1900C Super Sprint Barchetta

And there are more Swiss-made cars. The country may be more famous for watchmaking but has had a thriving coachbuilding industry in the 20th century, Representing its golden age is a 1956 Alfa Romeo 1900C Super Sprint Barchetta (CHF 300,000 – 400,000), its Ghia Aigle coachwork designed along the lines of a Riva speedboat with wraparound windscreen. Apparently, the Ghia was ‘banished’ into storage for 30 years by its first owner’s wife when she discovered the car had been bought for his mistress.

A black Renault 1981 on a pavement

1981 Renault 5 Turbo

My final highlight is a seemingly humbler car – a 1981 Renault 5, at one point France’s best-selling model and the first car for many. However, this special and increasingly sought-after high performance Turbo version has had only one owner from new, Catherine Larson, widow of Formula 1 driver Didier Pironi. The 5 has an estimate of CHF 130,000 – 150,000, making it one of the most valuable to be offered but surely one of the most perfect for tackling the twisting mountain roads!

The preview for the Gstaad Sale will be held at the Gstaad Palace Hotel from 1 to 3 July, with the sale from 15.00 on Sunday 1 July.

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Reading time: 4 min
Books
Books

tat* by Andy Altmann

Some people collect wine or classic cars; others collect coins or stamps. Andy Altmann collects graphic ephemera – or what he calls ‘tat’. Altmann developed his interest in scraps during his career at Why Not Associates, the multidisciplinary studio he founded upon graduating from the Royal College of Art over three decades ago. Now, the graphic designer has compiled his collection in a singular, self-designed publication. Here, Altmann speaks to LUX about how the book mirrors his design evolution, and why brash design need not be devoid of beauty

man with box1. Of all the things you might collect, you chose ‘tat’. Why?

It’s hard for me to explain exactly why I collect tat*. When I was a young boy, my mother noticed me sitting at the kitchen table, carefully studying the label on an HP Sauce bottle. When she enquired why, I apparently replied, ‘someone must have to design this’. I was instinctively attracted by the lettering, the colours and the illustration of the Houses of Parliament on what is still my favourite condiment. It’s a classic example of what was once known as ‘commercial art’. It did its job and pulled me in.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

However, I didn’t start collecting any graphic ephemera until I was studying graphic design at St Martins School of Art in the early 1980’s. We were encouraged to keep sketchbooks, where we could practice our drawing and put our creative thoughts down on paper. I wasn’t as gifted as some of my peers at drawing, so I started to turn these sketchbooks into idea notebooks where I would also stick in any relevant piece of graphic ephemera. With time, these developed into pure scrapbooks with more and more tat* lovingly glued into their pages. There is a great nostalgic attraction to the particular era that the ephemera has been produced in. But it is also my fundamental fascination with popular culture, including the history of Pop Art, which was and still is a huge influence on me – where the everyday is embraced and celebrated.

2. tat* emphasises the disposability of graphic ephemera even while immortalising it in book form. What fascinates you about that interplay?

These ephemeral pieces of tat* were not designed to survive for a long time. They had a job to do and, in the majority of cases, they end up in the bin. There is certainly irony in me celebrating what some may see as poor graphic design, destined for the trash, ending up in a fancy hardback coffee table book. But I hope people can also see the beauty in the ugly. The cheap production values of much tat* means that the printing is often poor and mis-registered – but to me, this only adds to their aesthetic attraction. I don’t know why this should be: maybe it’s like a stamp collector who is looking for a printing mistake, which makes a stamp much rarer. I think it may however be that they just feel more human, less perfect.

book

tat* by Andy Altmann

3. You frequently extrapolate memories from the graphic scraps reproduced in tat* – of your upbringing in Warrington, or sitting and watching World of Sport with your grandfather. Could we call it a diary of sorts?

I guess it is a kind of diary, as it illustrates moments through my life in association with printed pieces of ephemera. They can evoke various memories of where I may have found them, who gave it to me or a subject that is dear to me. A good friend of mine, on reading a copy of the book, described it as now being his ‘favourite autobiography’. I really like that description. It was a revelation to me, as I had not thought of it in that context, but it’s a really interesting way of viewing it.

As a graphic designer, it is rare for me to be asked to write about anything. I consider myself more of a visual person, so I was hesitant to include any written words in the book. But I was encouraged by friends to have a go at including relevant stories after recounting some of them when showing them work-in-progress spreads. In the end, I found the writing a really enjoyable and rewarding experience, and it turned the final book into a much more interesting piece of work.

Read more: Pioneering Artist Michael Craig Martin on Colour & Style

4. Much of that depicted in tat* is brash, erroneous, or what might be considered ‘bad’ graphic design. What value is there to be derived from this kind of design?

Having a collection of graphic ephemera can be useful to any practicing graphic designer. It’s a library of visual thoughts. Some may be deemed naff or crude but any piece could spark an idea, illustrate a great colour palette, inspire a typographic layout or choice of font. It doesn’t really matter that it may be considered ‘bad design’ – there may well be something that could be taken to start a tract of creative thought.

I was a co-founder of the multidisciplinary design practice Why Not Associates. I used to keep all my scrapbooks of tat* in the cupboard next to my desk. If a designer was having a creative block I used to encourage them to flick through some of the scrapbook pages in the hope that they may spark an idea or just freshen the mind. Some of our best ideas started from a thought inspired by a piece of tat*.

book

tat* by Andy Altmann

5. tat* is clearly fascinated with vintage or retro design. Would you say that any one period inspires you most as an artist and, if so, which one?

That period would be the 1960’s and 1970’s because, as with many people, I think I am most strongly drawn to the period of my childhood. It is where we form our fundamental characteristics and loves that stay with us for life. I guess it’s the basic human desire for nostalgia for our youth. One only has to watch contemporary television to see the many shows dedicated to salvaging objects from peoples childhoods or early adulthood.

Read more: Big Boy Blue: In the Studio with Idris Khan

6. You ran a design studio, Why Not Associates, for 33 years before you decided to embark on more personal projects like tat*. How have you ensured that your designs stay inventive and surprising throughout your career?

I co-founded Why Not Associates with two fellow students on leaving the Royal College of Art in 1987. We never worked for another design company, and I think because of this direct transition we maintained the spirit for experimentation and surprise that we had developed as students. We left the RCA with just three drawing boards, but we were among the first design groups to buy an Apple Mac. We were not scared of the change, unlike many of our contemporaries, and we embraced the technology which led us to be one of the first multidisciplinary design groups. An open mind to change, collaborating with people of all ages and not taking yourself too seriously help to keep new, inventive and surprising ideas flowing.

I don’t think my approach to solving a creative problem has basically changed over the years. I am a curious person who loves researching the background to a project and this always forms the platform to relevant and strong ideas. However, you still need that child-like mind to embrace the unexpected. Look at it upside down and back to front. What at first may seem to be a daft notion or irrelevant idea could turn it into a thought provoking concept.

Find out more: circa.press

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installation of digital artworks
installation of digital artworks

Galerie Nagel Draxler’s booth at Art Basel Miami Beach

After the scaled-back events of last year, Art Basel is back and it’s bigger than ever with 250 galleries from over 36 countries. Our columnist Sophie Neundorf reports from Miami

Sophie Neuendorf

The vibe was fantastic, full of joie de vivre, as collectors descended on Miami to celebrate the comeback of the Art Basel Miami Beach. On the opening day, there were many joyful reunions between friends, collectors, and gallerists seen and heard around the booths and despite timed entry due to Covid regulations, most of the stellar works sold out instantly.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

According to collectors, advisers and dealers, sales are similarly soaring at neighbouring fairs Nada and Untitled. It’s not so much a case of if to buy, but how to get there first. Who will get take home a much coveted painting by Amoako Boafo? Or the Genesis Tramaine being sold at Almine Rech? Or the Flora Yukhnovich work at Victoria Miro? It’s quite the dilemma for galleries that want to reward loyal clients, place works with museums, and grow new audiences at the same time, all while steering clear of speculators, but c’est la vie!

beachfront gallery

Saint Laurent Rive Droite’s beachfront gallery features an exhibition of works by an exhibition of works by Japanese artist Sho Shibuya

NFTs are, unsurprisingly, taking centre stage with multiple galleries showcasing digital offerings. Galerie Nagel Draxler is devoting much of its booth to a show-stopping group installation of tokenised multimedia works led by artist and maverick collector Kenny Schachter while a few aisles over, Pace is taking a somewhat softer approach with its presentation of Block Universe (2021), a collaborative work by Drift and D.J./crypto-artist Don Diablo. This year, there’s also a booth and three-day series of live talks dedicated to Tezos, an open-source, energy-efficient blockchain network where scores of recognised media artists have tokenised their works over the years. The centrepiece of the booth is a multiscreen installation that allows visitors to add their algorithmically distorted self-portrait to works by generative artist Mario Klingemann (AKA Quasimondo), then mint the results as NFTs on the Tezos blockchain.

Read more: Pioneering Artist Michael Craig Martin on Colour & Style

Among the many impressive events taking place this weekend, my highlight is Saint Laurent Rive Droite’s ephemeral gallery in the centre of the city (until December 5, 2021). Inside the space—a pink-and-red cube set on the beach, practically glowing against the backdrop of ocean and sky—there’s an exhibition of works by Japanese artist Sho Shibuya, commissioned by Saint Laurent’s visionary Creative Director Anthony Vaccarello. Shibuya has recently gained widespread attention for his series of daily paintings, Sunrise from a Small Window, created in his Brooklyn apartment over the last 22 months. Using the front page of The New York Times as a canvas, the artist has been ritualistically painting over the front-page stories with the hues of each morning’s sunrise, covering the often down-trodden news with an ever-changing symbol of revival and hope. It’s well worth seeing.

floating artwork

Michael Kagan, APOLLO 2021 (2021). Photo courtesy of the artist and Half Gallery.

Meanwhile, one of the stranger sights in Miami this week is an Apollo space capsule floating in Biscayne Bay as if just returned home from a lunar voyage. This isn’t, however, some wormhole into the heyday of the U.S. Space program, but an art project from artist Michael Kagan and New York’s Half Gallery. It’s no coincidence that Yusaku Maezawa, the Japanese billionaire art collector who promised to take a group of artists with him to the moon aboard one of Elon Musk’s SpaceX rockets, is one of the artist’s collectors. Kagan is clearly angling for a seat.

And then, of course, there are the parties. White Cube’s bash at Soho Beach House, which featured a performance from Sister Sledge and a lot of dancing, is the most talked about so far, but with a few days to go, there’s plenty of more time for partying.

To me, it feels very nearly like the good old days, but with the added edge of NFTs and groups of eager millennial collectors (musician Joe Jonas and Bachelor contestant Kit Keenan have been spotted milling around) with a healthy appetite for emerging stars and an even larger one for big name artists and galleries.

Sophie Neuendorf is Vice-President at artnet. Find out more: artnet.com

 

 

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car event at Italian villa
car event at Italian villa

The new Rolls-Royce Boat Tail was unveiled at Concorso d’Eleganza, Villa d’Este, Lake Como

Rolls-Royce unveiled the world’s most expensive new car at a glamorous event on the shore of Lake Como last week. A recreation of its iconic 1932 model, the Boat Tail comes in a series of three bespoke commissions for clients, believed to be $28m each. Ella Johnson reports

With its wooden hull and sail-like wings, you’d be forgiven for thinking Rolls-Royce Boat Tail belonged on water rather than land. Unveiled at a private ceremony on Lake Como last week, the car’s nautical appearance certainly befitted its watery surroundings; yet this is a car destined to be driven on land – by a very wealthy owner.

The Boat Tail is the latest creation from Rolls-Royce Coachbuild, the division of the UK-based, German-owned manufacturer devoted to making extremely exclusive, limited-run, hand-finished creations for some of the world’s richest people.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

It certainly looks striking, and suited the surroundings of its launch at the Concorso d’Eleganza, the elite classic car show at the Villa d’Este. Standing beside his creation, Rolls-Royce Head of Coachbuild Design Alex Innes described the Boat Tail as ‘transcending mere conveyance’ to ‘become the destination itself’.

There are certainly worse places to be sitting while in the summer traffic jam to get to Club 55 in St Tropez (although the Boat Tail owner would also doubtless have a fleet of helicopters, plus a superyacht and tender, at his disposal for such occasions). The car’s in-built hosting suite at the rear stores two chilled bottles of champagne (platinum-wrapped Armand de Brignac at the launch event, if bling is your thing) plus rotating cocktail tables, leather stools, and a parasol – perfect for that sunset in Malibu. There is also a custom Montblanc pen in the glove compartment and his-and-hers BOVET 1822 timepieces, which can be used as wristwatches, desk clocks, or pocket watches.

car with boot open

The Boat Tail on display took four years from concept to completion, with the close involvement of its owner. It is also the second offering from Rolls-Royce Coachbuild, inaugurated in 2017 with the launch of the dramatic Sweptail, which evoked memories of the dramatic grand touring cars of the 1930s. Rolls-Royce say that Coachbuild, an invitation-only service for its top clients, is designed to satiate the appetite of clients who want to commission and curate personalised cars – described by the marque as ‘the automotive equivalent of haute couture’.

Read more: The eco-art organisation making a stand at Frieze

As Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Otvös commented to the gathered connoisseurs and collectors at the launch, the Boat Tail is ‘the most ambitious commission we have ever undertaken, in terms of technical complexity, innovative bespoke detailing and sheer creative audacity’.

The company is planning on releasing a coachbuilt car every two years, with the next two editions already in advances stages of creation and production. We suggest anyone who is interested in becoming a client buys a few Phantoms, Ghosts and Cullinans in the next few months, and works their way onto the invitation-only list from there. See you at Lake Como.

Find out more: rolls-roycemotorcars.com

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man with glass decanter
whisky bottle and case

Gordon & MacPhail’s Generations 80-Years-Old from Glenlivet Distillery with decanter and case designed by David Adjaye

On the 3rd February 1940 John Urquhart and his son, George, created a spirit at the Glenlivet Distillery, producing a bespoke Gordon & MacPhail cask, only to be sipped in the following millennium. 80 years later, on 7th October 2021, encased in an oak pavilion designed by David Adjaye, the first bottle is going to auction at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. Candice Tucker reports

Generations 80 Years Old from Glenlivet Distillery, Gordon & MacPhail’s latest release and the oldest single malt Scotch whiskey ever bottled, will go on auction this week along with the number one decanter and casing designed by Sir David Adjaye.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

“Maturing a single malt Scotch over eight decades is an art, similar in many ways to architecture where you are creating something that needs to stand the test of time,” commented Ewen Mackintosh, Managing Director at Gordon & MacPhail. “Both Sir David and Gordon & MacPhail share a commitment to invest in the future. We both see the significance of creating something exceptional; leaving a legacy for future generations.”

man with glass decanter

Adjaye with the crystal decanter

The British-Ghanian architect’s casing takes the form of a pavilion-like structure made from oak while the crystal decanter was hand-blown at Scotland’s Glencairn Crystal Studio with two cut lenses that magnify the liquid inside and a darkened oak top. “I wanted to create a design that pays tribute to the role oak plays in transforming liquid into an elixir with almost magical properties,” explained Adjaye.

Read more: Milk Honey Bees Founder Ebinehita Iyere on youth work & creativity

The highest bidder at auction will also receive one-of-one signed lithograph of Sir David’s original, concept drawings and a whisky tasting experience for four in London, conducted by Gordon & MacPhail’s Director of Prestige, Stephen Rankin and attended by Sir David Adjaye, in addition to the framed original cask head of Cask 340 which cradled the spirit for eight decades.

For more information, visit: gordonandmacphail.com, sothebys.com

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two men holding artworks

Didier Guillon with his son Maxence who will take over leadership of Fondation Valmont in 2022

artnet’s Vice President Sophie Neuendorf speaks with the founder of the Valmont group and one of the most important philanthropists and collectors in the art world: Didier Guillon

Over the years, French-Swiss entrepreneur and philanthropist Didier Guillon has built a cosmetics imperium, arts foundation, and expansive collection. The Valmont group has become a great family success story thanks to not only his creative genius and passion for art, but also in large part to his wife Sophie who’s able to anticipate women’s desires and needs by combining luxurious ingredients and advanced technologies in Valmont’s high-end range of cosmetics.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Ahead of a major new thematic exhibition opening at Palazzo Bonvicini – a historic palace which is also home to Fondation Valmont in Venice – which will bring together artists Isao, Stephanie Blake and Silvano Rubino with the art students of Publicolor (a New York-based non-profit organisation that helps marginalised youth reintegrate into society through the use of art as an expressive therapy), Guillon discusses family business, his philanthropic projects and the value of generosity.

Sophie Neuendorf: What’s it like working alongside your wife?
Didier Guillon: It’s a truly inspiring peer-to-peer relationship. There’s no domination of one to the other. Sometimes, we have differences of opinion, but that usually leads to an even better solution. She’s a new Helena Rubinstein! Although I’m more involved in the collection and Fondation, she’s always interested in my passions and projects.

I’m also excited to reveal that we will open a Maison Valmont in Madrid very soon, which combines both my passion for fine art and her work ethic. We’ll have a retail space as well as a secret space for our VIP clients where we will exhibit fine art. It’s like showing a new world to our clients, which is very important for us.

art installation inside historic building

Sophie Neuendorf: Are your children keen to follow your footsteps in terms of collecting and philanthropy?
Didier Guillon: I’m certain that they will. They understand the value of generosity and of philanthropy as I’ve instilled it in them for many years.

Read more: Umberta Beretta on fund-raising for the arts

Sophie Neuendorf: There are many family businesses within the art world, where savoir-faire is passed from one generation to the next. Are you working closely with your children to ensure the transfer of the foundation into the future?
Didier Guillon: We’re really at the beginning of the process. My son will lead Fondation Valmont starting in 2022. He will be primarily responsible for discovering emerging artists for an exhibition we’re launching in Venice for the 2024 Biennale. The theme will be the concept of travel. For my son, it’s a true immersion into the art world.

In terms of the business, it will take much longer to decide if and when my children will join the Valmont Group. Perhaps, they would like to have some other experiences first, which to be honest, I believe is in their best interest. However, we all have to protect the concept of heritage, in terms of art but also of family businesses and values. It’s very important to transmit one’s values to the next generation. For me, that means being known for one’s generosity in all its different facets! Not for being rich, for example. I would be horrified to appear on any “rich lists”!

views to the sea from a villa

Villa Valentina on the Greek island of Hydra, where Fondation Valmont hosts artist residencies

Sophie Neuendorf: How do you choose the artists you work with?
Didier Guillon: The absolute objective is to have a deep connection with the artists. For example, I offer our artists the opportunity to travel to Hydra for a four-day workshop and artist residency. It’s a feeling of generosity in terms of spirit and knowledge. It’s important to me that our artists know and embrace the fact that charity is a big part of our ethos and will be part of any exhibition.

I work closely with my son in the decision making process. Neither of us wants to buy work for speculative purposes. We buy for passion and to support the artists. That’s also why we created the “DM” art fund: to raise money to support young artists, which is especially important now, in the wake of the pandemic.

Sophie Neuendorf: What would you like your legacy to be?
Didier Guillon: The notion of generosity in thought and deed. It’s very important to me and it’s what I would like to transmit to the next generation.

Read more: Gaggenau’s Jörg Neuner on embodying the traditional avant-garde

Sophie Neuendorf: If you could have dinner with any three artists, living or dead, who would you choose?
Didier Guillon: Francis Bacon because he was the first artist I saw with my father at a big solo show in Paris. Sol LeWitt because he’s the opposite. Cecily Brown because she has a funny eroticism in her paintings. For me, the way she paints is absolutely fantastic. She’s the new Gerhard Richter.

Sophie Neuendorf: You recently opened a beautiful space in Venice. Why Venice?
Didier Guillon: Venice is an international destination where the art takes possession of the city. Also, it’s a sustainable city because you don’t have cars, which is the same as Hydra, for example, where there are only donkeys. The city also represents the fragility of humanity, seeing as its constructed on poles.

We opened the space few years ago as a place to invite some of our many valued clients and friends. We truly enjoy showing them the beauty – known and secret – of Venice, as well as introducing them to our fragrances. I really want to welcome our guests into the Valmont world.

doorway into a palace

The grand interiors of Palazzo Bonvicini in Venice

Sophie Neuendorf: What is luxury for you?
Didier Guillon: Luxury, for me, is having the time and money to dedicate, imagine, and create things for those that are disadvantaged. I want to leave a better world for our children and grandchildren. Charity should be a global endeavour. We all have to do our part.

Sophie Neuendorf: The pandemic has been tough for the art world. How did you experience it?
Didier Guillon: We were very fortunate to be together as a family during those few months of lockdown. For me, it was occasion to develop my own artistic creations, all of which were sold to support our art fund.

Sophie Neuendorf: Do you think ESG is important for the art world? What, if anything, are you doing in those terms?
Didier Guillon: Living and creating sustainably is very important. We only use glass for our products, for example. To be honest, it’s a very big challenge to combat climate change. We feel it’s very important to do our part for the environment, but we work more closely in helping disadvantaged children because children are our future.

Find out more: lamaisonvalmont.com

Follow Sophie Neuendorf on Instagram: @sophieneuendorf

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red car on the road
red car on the road

The BMW M5 Competition may retain the conservative form of the 5 Series, but the car’s capabilities say otherwise

In the final part of our Fast & Luxurious car series from the Summer 2021 issue, LUX’s car reviewer takes the BMW M5 Competition for a spin

For an older generation of car enthusiasts, BMW’s M5 has a particular and hallowed heritage. There is intense debate about which generation of M5 history will judge best, whether it’s the original 1980s flavour, the 1990s editions with the souped-up engines, or the 2000s edition with the F1-like V10 engine. It’s a debate that is unlikely to end soon, even with the apparition of this, the latest M5. As usual, it is more powerful, faster and more luxurious than the generation before.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

On driving it down an empty country lane, it is also evident that BMW’s engineers have tried to keep true to the memory of the original in terms of handling. The company may put its ‘M’ for motorsport label on all its fast cars these days, but the M5 has a precision of steering, and a purity of balance, that is unique and highly impressive for a four-door saloon car.

car interiors

The faster you go, the sharper the curve, the more the car feeds back, feels lighter, at ease. The transformation from big and slightly anonymous car around town – you could be driving more or less any large-ish BMW – to sports car that feels like it just wants to be on a racetrack is quite striking.

Read more: Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava on light and space

The car’s interior and overall experience for passengers is one of a smart, comfortable saloon car; unless you are taking the car to its limits, they are unlikely to notice they are in anything much different to the executive sedan that shuttled them from the airport. The engine note from its twin-turbo V8 is muted, almost unnoticeable. The ride is firmly controlled and solid. With the driver settings on comfort mode, anyone could drive it anywhere and not know they are in anything special.

car steering wheel

That is the way it has always been with the M5. Even the earliest model, in the 1980s when car bodykits and show-off wings were all the rage, was deliberately dressed down to look like a normal BMW; there was even a slower model in the range, the M535i, that looked more showy about its speed. For us it was heartening to see that, despite its size (this car feels enormous), the M5 hasn’t turned into a straight-line drag racer. If your life involves driving down a twisty country lane, this is still the best car in the world.

LUX rating: 18.5/20

Find out more: bmw.co.uk

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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abstract figurative painting
abstract figurative painting

Tunji Adeniyi Jones. Courtesy White Cube Gallery

From prints and paintings to photography and NFTs, the diversity and scale of art world can be daunting to first-time collectors, but it doesn’t have to be. Here, artnet’s Vice President Sophie Neuendorf shares her top tips for navigating the art world and building a collection

Sophie Neuendorf

With fine art developing into a beautiful alternative asset, the opportunity to purchase tokens and the growth of NFTs, now is a great time to invest, but it can be difficult to know where to begin. How do you choose the works and artists? Where is the best place to buy: galleries, brick-and-mortar auctions or online auctions? How do you know what’s a fair price?

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Entering the art world can sometimes feel like more trouble than it’s worth, but it collecting can bring a lot a pleasure, and it’s worth remembering that you probably already know more than you think.

How do I know what I like?

Whether consciously or not, the preferences one has in terms of art and culture begin developing in childhood. Can you remember the first time you experienced art? Was it in a museum, a church, gallery or in someone’s home? Those earlier encounters leave a lasting impression which will have an impact on the artists and artworks you gravitate towards, and generally speaking, it’s always advisable to follow your instincts.

From a young age, I’ve had the huge pleasure and privilege of enjoying my father’s collection at home and in terms of my own collecting habits today, I find myself wanting to support emerging artists, as my father has always done. When I like a work, I tend to discuss it with my brothers, whose opinions I trust, before purchasing.

sculpture of the word love

Robert Indiana. Courtesy of artnet auctions

How important is research?

While you might be buying for passion, it’s important to also have an investment view. I would strongly advise anyone interested in a particular artwork or artist to spend some time researching their exhibition history, and similar artists before committing to a purchase.

Read more: Louise Cottar of Cottar’s Safaris on meaningful luxury experiences

Where do I go to buy?

Personally, I like to purchase artworks through galleries or in online auctions. I enjoy building a relationship not only with the artist I collect, but also with the galleries that represent them. Galleries are paramount to the art world ecosystem, and supporting them is very important. The app SeeSaw lists current and forthcoming exhibitions, where you can go to discover new and notable artists. For example, I’ve recently discovered the works of Tunji Adeniyi Jones, Eddie Martinez, and Donna Huanca.

large abstract painting

Donna Huanca. Courtesy of Simon Lee Gallery

Online auctions offer a great alternative, especially at a time when we might not be able to travel so easily to galleries. You can browse and purchase artworks from the comfort of your own home and the seamless end-to-end transaction process takes away any potential stress. I’ve already preselected a few works that I’ll be bidding on at artnet auctions this Autumn, such as a marvellous piece by Robert Indiana as well as several contemporary artworks.

The most important piece of advice I’ve ever received is: “Buy it because you love it. It doesn’t matter what others think.” With any luck, the monetary value will appreciate as well as the emotional value.

Follow Sophie Neuendorf on Instagram: @sophieneuendorf

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Reading time: 3 min
silver sportscar
silver sportscar

Image by Mark Fagelson Photography

In the third part of our Fast & Luxurious car series from the Summer 2021 issue, LUX’s car reviewer gets behind the wheel of Porsche’s powerful SUV: the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid

When we were younger, we had a dream idea of what the perfect SUV would be. An effortless, go anywhere car with endless performance and the ability to take both motorways and winding roads (and on-roads) in its stride, without skipping a beat.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The first drive in a then new 1990s Range Rover put us to rights. It was quite powerful, and comfortable, and could certainly go anywhere across a field. But at the moment it started even looking at a corner, the whole car would lean over as if it were going to fall on its side, and the general squishiness of its performance made it feel like driving a marshmallow on roller stilts. Not an edifying experience.
Things have moved a long way in the right direction since then, with technology, so often blamed for hampering a successful car experience, providing all the gains.

Now, it is possible to build a huge, luxurious, powerful SUV with the kind of road presence beloved of purchasers of this type of car, and a high centre of gravity which would have made a previous generation of cars lean over in corners. Due to electronics, everything stays flat.

Nowhere is this more apparent then in our spirited drive of the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid. This Porsche SUV is top of the range, having enough horsepower to tow a small European country if required. There is a huge amount of room for five passengers and their luggage, and a high-tech interior that will please, and probably confuse, the most ardent technologist.

This Cayenne can win a drag race with almost anything else on the road, its excellent gearbox reading your mind as you approach corners in sport mode, and changing down ready for the next assault of a straight. And in the corners themselves, it stays flat and precise.

Read more: An exclusive tasting of Moët & Chandon’s Grand Vintage 2013

Driving it this way, you do wonder though whether such high-performance needs would be better served by a lighter, lower car like Porsche’s own 911. That car can’t squeeze in as many people and bags as this, and it certainly can’t make its way over a muddy field, but you wonder whether owners of Cayennes do that much real off-roading, or that much super high-performance driving. Most of them would be just as happy with a normal model Cayenne.

But if you want the best of the best, this is up there. Lamborghini’s Urus is even more wild and exciting to drive, but more ‘out there’ and perhaps too much for everyday driving. Bentley’s Bentayga and the Rolls-Royce Cullinan are different types of car, more expensive and more focused on luxury than performance.

In that sense the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid is that ultimate SUV for the person who wants it all. Overkill, perhaps, but then what’s the car for?

LUX rating: 18/20

Find out more: porsche.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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mountainous landscape with lake in distance
mountainous landscape with lake in distance

The whisky trail in the Scottish Highlands

Tod Bradbury is head of rare and collectable whiskies at the renowned fine wine and spirits merchants Justerini & Brooks, London. Here, he tells LUX about the company’s elite collection of casks and why whisky is about the experience

man in whisky cellar

Tod Bradbury. Photograph by Gary Morrisroe

1. Can you tell us about the concept behind the Casks of Distinction programme?

The buying of malt whisky by the single cask is the pinnacle of collecting. There is nothing more bespoke, more personal than buying your own unique cask and having it bottled to your very own specifications. The Casks of Distinction programme does just that: it is the private sale of individual casks of rare and exceptional Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Each Cask of Distinction is chosen on the basis of its quality, representing the most exceptional and singular expression of the distillery’s character.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Buying a cask of whisky is a personalised journey, guaranteed to provide an unforgettable experience. For casks from silent distilleries (those no longer in production) it may even be a once in a lifetime opportunity as these are produced in tiny volumes and supplies are fast dwindling, but with the Casks of Distinction service, they are occasionally within the reach of the individual collector.

whisky bottle and glasses

Whisky tasting at Justerini & Brooks in London. Photograph by Gary Morrisroe

2. How do you select which whiskies will be included in the Casks of Distinction programme?

Once a year, at the liquid library at our archives in Scotland, the Casks of Distinction selection team gathers, led by our four Master Blenders (Dr Craig Wilson, Dr Emma Walker, Maureen Robinson and Dr Jim Beveridge) who have more than a century of combined experience. Their judgement and knowledge is highly regarded and sought out by whisky connoisseurs across the globe. The group of experts select which casks should be considered for the esteemed Casks of Distinction list. They employ their collective understanding to identify the rarest and most exceptional casks to be put forward for evaluation and inclusion to the programme. Many of these casks have been watched closely for years with the group waiting until they reveal a distinctive quality that sets them apart. Others are chance findings of a rare gem, but one that makes a lasting impact on the finder. Each is entirely unique.

Through repeated tastings, each cask is held to the utmost scrutiny by the experts in their analysis of the specific nuances and character of each whisky. No cask reaches the final list without unanimous agreement by all four Master Blenders.

Read more: Product designer Tord Boontje on sustainable materials

3. Where are the casks normally stored after purchase?

If you are one of the privileged few to own a cask, you can rest easy knowing that your individual cask is stored in our warehouse facility at Royal Lochnagar distillery on the Bergeldie Estate nestled near the gates of the Balmoral in the Highland whisky-producing area of Scotland. This ability to get hands on with your own cask during its slow maturation gives a privileged few individuals peace of mind.

Once your whisky has matured, it will be ready for bottling which is where the next stage of the Casks of Distinction journey begins. Some collectors want to store their bottles to be appreciated later in which case we can arrange storage in our subsidiary company Cellarers Ltd, at Octavian Vaults —a bomb-proof storage facility where safekeeping is guaranteed. Other collectors might want to gift bottles to friends and loved ones, or simply have them sent home to take pride of place in their cellar. This, too, can be arranged.

coastal building

Port Ellen distillery isle of Islay, Scotland.

4. Have you noticed a distinct difference in the types of whiskies enjoyed between the sexes?

The whiskies are as individual as the people who consume them and they can be enjoyed by anyone equally. I am always under the impression that everyone likes whisky. It is just a process of finding out which one. At the start of a cask ownership journey, we always begin with consultation. In these conversations, we will build up a picture of a client’s taste profile. The kinds of foods they like, cookery styles preferred, even the variety of tea they drink – these subtle nuances will give form to their preferences. Customers will often come to us with a set idea on the type of whisky they like but our discussions can lead them to some unexpected new discoveries. I’m also of the view that whisky can be enjoyed however you like – whether that’s with water or without, on the rocks or even in a high-ball.

5. What distinguishes an exceptional whisky from a good one?

For me, an exceptional whisky is just as much about who I am with, when and where, as it is about the actual age and quality of the whisky. Whisky is for sharing. An exceptional whisky is one that transports you back to that moment. So pick an excellent group of friends and pull the cork.

6. Which is the most unusual distillery you have visited?

The most unusual Scotch whisky distillery for me would be Mortlach for its fiendishly complicated distillation in which the liquid is actually distilled 2.81 times creating this heavyweight, viscous and “meaty” new make spirit.

Find out more: justerinis.com

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Auctioneer Oliver Barker directing Sotheby’s global e-auctions. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Following the announcement of Sotheby’s Cologne office, artnet’s Vice President and LUX columnist Sophie Neuendorf discusses shifting collecting habits and the potential for Germany to become a key player in the art world

The recent news that Sotheby’s is opening an office in Cologne, Germany has made waves internationally but also ruffled a few feathers within the German market. However, given the ramifications of Brexit, which is making import and export transactions much more cumbersome, it’s hardly a surprising decision. Christie’s has been steadily strengthening its presence Paris over the last few years and Amsterdam is much smaller in terms of buyer opportunities so the EU’s largest country in terms of size and economic strength seems the logical choice for Sotheby’s.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

According to the auction house, “German collectors remain essential to Sotheby’s business, featuring in the list of top ten countries most actively buying and selling in Sotheby’s sales for the past three years.” In this light, it’s hard to imagine that the aim of the opening is centred solely around the potential of new collectors, but what is of interest is the abundance of private collections in Germany, which provide ample opportunities for acquiring unique and unseen masterpieces.

Germany is renowned for its impressive history of supporting the arts, from fine arts to music or literature. Many of the most important art collections worldwide are located in Germany, and quite a few of these marvellous collections will be handed down to the next generation before too long.

pop art exhibition

Neuendorf Gallery pop art exhibition 1964 in Hamburg, Germany.

“The German art market is outstanding in Europe with its strong collectors on the one hand and its internationally sought-after artists on the other,” comments Alice von Seldeneck of Germany’s prestigious Lempertz auction house. “After Brexit and the uncertainties and costs associated with it, it was a logical conclusion to establish another foothold on the continent. We had expected this to happen much sooner.”

Read more: The art of cross-collecting by Philip Hewat-Jaboor

According to artnet data, German collectors have historically favoured Impressionist and Modern art, closely followed by Post War and Old Masters paintings. Now, these same categories are tied to tedious export rules and regulations, newly introduced by Germany’s culture minister (ostensibly to protect Germany’s cultural heritage), which are suppressing international trade. The fourth most popular collecting category is Contemporary Art, which is much easier to buy and sell internationally. With the rise of the new millennial generation of collectors, perhaps the German market is primed for a shift in wealth and collecting habits?

graph showing art sales

Infographic courtesy of artnet

Germany ranks 4th in terms of sales in western countries after the United States, the United Kingdom, and France (source: art net). “In 2020, 40% of German bidders were new to the company, while the number of German buyers in online sales tripled, ” revealed a spokesperson from Sotheby’s. With many of Europe’s hottest emerging artists flocking to Berlin, it’s only a matter of time until the country becomes a hot spot in terms of Contemporary and Ultra Contemporary art.

“Berlin is an ideal combination of a strong primary and secondary market with different generations of collectors,” says von Seldeneck. “The strong consignments from abroad show us how highly regarded the German art market is internationally.”

graph showing highest paid artists

Infographic courtesy of artnet

The city is a place of inspiration for many creatives from around the world as reflected by the plethora of blue chip galleries that have recently opened in the German capital. Four of the world’s top earning artists – Gerhard Richter, Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, and Frank Auerbach – are also Germany-based. But will this rise in popularity be reflected in actual sales and growth of the market?

Read more: The gastronomic delights of Suvretta House, Switzerland

According to Berlin-based gallerist and former BVDG (German Association of Galleries) board member Klaus Gerrit Friese, the entry of Sotheby’s into the German market is a testament to the country’s strength and potential for growth. “I’m very positive about the future of the German art market. The new generation of gallerists have developed radically new ideas about viewing and selling art, which goes hand in hand with the rise of millennial collectors. So, the real potential lies in the Contemporary and Ultra Contemporary market, where I have observed a lot of upward movement in Germany over the past few years,” he says.

While Germany seems primed to become one of the world’s most important countries in terms of both creativity and sales, it remains to be seen whether the coming generational change and shift in collecting preferences will propel the country into the upper echelons of the market.

Follow Sophie Neuendorf on Instagram: @sophieneuendorf

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Reading time: 4 min
collage artwork
collage artwork

Nina Mae Fowler, Love VI. Copyright the artist, courtesy of COB Gallery

The Stand is a new digital art platform that raises money for charitable causes through curated online auctions, featuring works by early to mid career artists. Here, LUX speaks to the company director Beth Greenacre about the aims of the initiative, millennial collectors and addressing the art world’s gender imbalance

1. How did the concept for The Stand come about?

The Stand was the brainchild of Robin Woodhead, former Chairman of Sotheby’s International. When the pandemic hit, and live fundraising events were cancelled many charities started turning to artists to donate work. The strain this puts on artists, who are effectively donating work for free, can be difficult at the best of times and especially so during the last twelve months. It was clear to us that artists also needed support and so The Stand was born, a sustainable social impact model which puts the artist at the centre, whilst enabling them to donate a proportion of the sale price of their work to causes they feel passionate about.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

2. Why do you think collectors are becoming more comfortable with buying art online?

I have long been a believer in the potential of the internet to bring art to wide audiences. In 2000, David Bowie and I launched the Bowie Art website to support emerging artists and provide a platform to connect them with new audiences. People said we were mad and that no-one would look at art online; we had over a million hits most weeks and people still talk about it today as a place where they discovered now well-known artists. Much has changed since then; more and more of us research artists online and connect with them and the galleries we love. For collectors and the art market, the online space has opened accessibility and participation. Add to this the fact that millennials are the biggest spenders in the art market and most comfortable buying online and the digital imperative grows stronger.

abstract painting

Anna Liber Lewis, Bocat, 2015, Oil on canvas. This work is part of the ‘desire series’. Copyright and courtesy of the artist.

3. How did you select the artists to include in the The Female Gaze auction and are there any works that you’re particularly excited about?

I am excited about all the artists that I have selected for our first auction. There are many things that unite them, not just that they are non-binary or female identifying but that they all explore the female form through their practice, a subject that has historically been colonised by men. As someone who has navigated the art world as a woman, they really resonate with me.

Read more: The rise of millennial art collectors

Female artists still sell less than men and are not as well represented at auction. It was important to me to launch The Stand with an auction that raises awareness of issues in the art world. Each of these artists deserve our attention, and let’s not forget, the investment potential of all marginalised artists is incredible.

4. Why did you make the decision to focus on early to mid-career artists?

There has been a growing divide in the top and low ends of the market for years. It is harder for early to mid-career artists and their galleries to be seen and so it’s important that we give these artists visibility. I have long wanted to see a more holistic art market and in supporting and celebrating artists in their early to mid-careers and connecting them directly with collectors I believe that we will strengthen their market position and the market as a whole. For our collectors there is also great growth potential in terms of value.

portrait painting

Gill Button, Eve, 2020, Oil on linen. Copyright and courtesy of the artist

5. What are your predictions for the art world post pandemic?

I believe that our priorities and values will shift dramatically. I think Covid-19 has brought environmental and social issues to the fore with unexpected urgency. I believe that the commitment towards social impact investing that we saw before Covid will continue to grow. In the art world, I hope artists, collectors and galleries will want to do more and bring about change. I am proud of the The Stand as a sustainable social impact model which celebrates the artist.

6. Now that galleries and museums are opening, what are you most looking forward to seeing?

I am seeing Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Zanele Muholi, both at Tate, this week and I cannot wait. Lynette was one of the first artists that appeared on Bowie Art. I am also looking forward to seeing friends and colleagues in the art world now we can do so with more ease.

The Stand’s inaugural auction “The Female Gaze” is now open for registration and bidding. Find out more: thestand.art

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women looking at art
women looking at art

Masterpiece London, 2019. Photograph by Ben Fisher. Courtesy of Masterpiece

In his first column for LUX, art collector, advisor and chairman of Masterpiece London Philip Hewat-Jaboor discusses the joys of discovering art and design objects through their materials
portrait of a man in black and white

Philip Hewat-Jaboor. Photograph by Danny Evans

I’m always intrigued to discover what brings people to works of art, and what sets their collecting in motion. Over the years, one of the most beguiling ways I’ve found to draw people in, is to look at an artwork’s materials and explore how it has been made. What does the texture and surface of the materials tell us? What meaning and significance do those materials hold? What cultural and historical value do they have? Whether it’s precious stones, marble, porcelain, pigment or wood, it’s interesting to think about how the artist has transformed a raw material into something full-formed and to look for the beauty in that process. Materials transcend disciplines, cross continents, and evolve through time and when it comes to beginning your own collection, it’s a brilliant place to start.

Personally, I’m obsessed by coloured ornamental stones, and by that I mean the stones that were first quarried by the Romans in Egypt and other parts of the Roman Empire, which became incredibly prized as both building materials and materials for making works of art. I take great pleasure in looking at how these materials are used and reused over the course of history. For example, you might be looking at a 18th century vase made out of Egyptian porphyry (my favourite material) but whilst it’s an 18th century object, it was probably made out of a 2nd or 3rd century column that had been abandoned in the Renaissance or whenever, dug up from the excavations in Rome and turned into another object. There’s a wonderful sense of continuity, and doing this kind of research is a fantastic way of not only learning more about the object itself, but also history.

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There are then the contemporary artists and designers who are thinking about new ways of using ancient materials such as stone. There are designers and artists at David Gill, for example, who are incorporating these wonderful, ancient, coloured stones into contemporary furniture and in doing so, they are bringing new life to the material. In this sense, I’m quite anti the division between traditional and contemporary art because everything looks backwards and forwards. In my opinion, things are either good or bad, stimulating or indifferent, whether they were made yesterday or 5,000 years ago.

ancient sculpture

Galerie Chenel at Masterpiece London 2019, Ben Fisher Photography, courtesy of Masterpiece

It’s also interesting to consider what inspires the rebirth of a particular material. For example, I’ve been thinking about how there’s been a trend for refurbishing kitchens and bathrooms in the last ten years, and incorporating coloured marbles into new designs. There’s also the fact that each slice of marble, not all marbles but many of them, will be totally unique. So if you’re making a limited edition of five coffee tables, each one will be different and I think that’s really appealing to both the creator and the modern consumer.

Read more: Olivier Krug on champagne and music

Lately, there has also been a trend, or at least a growing interest in more sustainable craft processes, but the interesting thing is that many of these artists and designers are already using historic materials, which is in itself sustainable, but in my opinion, it also imbues the contemporary object with more of a soul. For example, Sebastian Brajkovic, a fantastic artist at David Gill Gallery, made a wonderful side-table out of white marble combined with some artificial marble and other bits and pieces. It’s a strikingly contemporary object, but it is modelled on a Roman sarcophagus.

This past year, in particular, has encouraged people to think about how they want to live, and what might bring their lives comfort, which naturally impacts what they are choosing to buy or collect. I personally think being surrounded by beautiful objects is a very important part of life, and can bring people so much joy.

So where to begin with all of this? Visiting museums, galleries, art fairs and even country houses is a fantastic way to discover and pique interest in new eras and disciplines. Exhibitions even have the power to kickstart entire collecting trends. For example, Treasure Houses of Britain was a great show that took place at the National Gallery in Washington in 1985, showcasing paintings, furniture and works of art from British country houses. The exhibition had such an inspirational effect that it launched an Anglo-manic wave in American collecting in the 80s.

When I reflect upon my own collecting journey, I think how fortunate I was that my grandfather was a collector and that he would let me handle his Chinese ceramics collection. This close-up experience with a material is not something you often get at a museum, but with his passion and trust, I had the opportunity to really look at, appreciate and observe the material and craftsmanship.

In the same way, art and design dealers often want to share their passion for their speciality with potential clients. My advice to new collectors is to actively start conversations, ask questions, read, listen, research and build your knowledge. Search for beauty, great craftsmanship, and ultimately, allow yourself to be guided by your instincts.

Philip Hewat-Jaboor is Masterpiece London’s Chairman of the Fair.

This year’s edition of Masterpiece London will take place online with smaller-scale live activations in London in June. For updates and online events, visit: masterpiecefair.com

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artwork in a lobby
artwork in a lobby

A colourful neon installation by Jason Rhoades in the home of German art dealer David Zwirner

Art collector and author Tiqui Atencio is the founder and chair of the Tate Latin America Acquisition Committee and a trustee of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation amongst numerous other philanthropic arts and culture organisations. As part of our ongoing philanthropy series, she discusses her latest book, the importance of collecting art and her efforts to promote Latin American artists

Tiqui Atencio

LUX: How did you come up with your idea for your book For Art’s Sake?
Tiqui Atencio: The idea for my second book, For Art’s Sake was born whilst I was writing my first book, Could Have, Would Have, Should Have. For me, it was a natural progression. After visiting the homes of the collectors that I interviewed, I decided I wanted to write a book with photos about art dealers. I wanted to see how they lived in their homes with the artists they represent and collect. I wanted it to reflect their passions, motivations, pursuits, adventures, and personal choices.

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LUX: ‘Heroic commitment’ or ‘crazy silliness’ – how is collecting art different from buying art?
Tiqui Atencio: Buying art can be different from collecting if the intention of the person buying the work is different from buying to form a collection, or increase one. Motivations and objectives are very varied. Some are committed collectors that go the extra mile to get what they want, others are not as passionate or dedicated. I would never describe it as silliness or craziness; it’s more like a steadfast passion.

art book cover

The cover of For Art’s Sake by Tiqui Atencio, published by Rizzoli New York

LUX: How do you gain the trust to access these private homes with the team?
Tiqui Atencio: Most of the dealers I approached and interviewed were either trusted friends or people I had met through the art world at different occasions over the years, sometimes having bought from them myself.

Read more: Lamberto Frescobaldi on 1000 years of tradition and wine

LUX: From your interviews, what essential principles guide an architect or designer in showcasing a collection?
Tiqui Atencio: I believe that a good designer or architect will take into consideration the taste of their client in art, their collecting patterns, and preferences in lifestyle and choices in home living.

LUX: Among the homes you have visited, do you have any personal favourites?
Tiqui Atencio: Every home and collection had a certain angle of attraction, and I can’t say I had a favourite one, but being originally Latin American I could have moved in Luisa Strina’s home in São Paulo with only a toothbrush.

artwork hanging in living room

Lucian Freud’s Annie, a painting of the artist’s eldest daughter from 1962, hangs above a sofa upholstered in William Morris “Acanthus” print in Iwan and Manuela Wirth’s home in the Scottish Highlands

LUX: How do you think your own approach to collecting has changed over the years?
Tiqui Atencio: At the beginning, when I was very young, I was buying what I liked without too much information. With time and experience, I buy with more caution and research, but still following my heart and instincts.

LUX: For Art’s Sake integrates with your other roles within art philanthropy, what are you most proud to have achieved with its publication?
Tiqui Atencio: I am very proud to inform the readers of my books about the sense of sharing, giving and philanthropic commitment to the art world that most collectors, through their collecting practices have given to humanity. Their sense of responsibility, their generosity and their role in promoting art and culture.

Read more: How women artists are reshaping art history

LUX: What inspired you to become Chair of the Tate Latin American Acquisition?
Tiqui Atencio: I was part of an effort to increase the holdings of Latin American Art for the Tate. The intention was to promote the art and artists from the region of the world where I was born. So, I came up with the idea of forming a committee who would be willing to support this initiative, and that is how the Latin American Committee for Tate came to life.

contemporary art hanging

Platypus, 2009 by Amy Sillman in the home of British art dealer and collector Ivor Braka

LUX: Have you found that the pandemic has affected art buyers’ attitudes?
Tiqui Atencio: Yes, personally I am buying less. I am longing to go back to the fairs and auctions of the past to see and feel the emotions and excitement of falling for a work of art. I have bought online, but not often and I can’t say it’s the same experience.

LUX: Do you think the pandemic has affected fine artists’ creativity?
Tiqui Atencio: I believe the pandemic has affected us all in some way – positively and/or negatively. With time, it will be interesting to see what comes out of this challenging moment. I am a positive thinker and I do believe we will come out better than we think – same with artists!

LUX: What is your favourite period of art?
Tiqui Atencio: I confess it’s mid-century Latin American Art, but my taste is very eclectic and varied and in my collection, there are many periods and styles.

Find out more: tiquiatencio.com

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emerald ring
emerald and diamond ring

A ring design by Katherine James

Collector and dealer of modern, vintage and antique fine jewellery Katherine James runs her eponymous brand from her home in London. Here she talks to Abigail Hodges about social media, her experiences of working in traditionally male-dominated industry, and creating a nail varnish from crushed gemstones

woman wearing blue ring

Katherine James

1. Do you remember when you first became interested in gemstones?

I grew up in London in the eighties when the jewels were physically bigger, and they completely captivated me. My Dad was pretty terrible at buying presents, so he would give me jewels, and so I was hooked from a young age. I even used to sell mood rings at school. To this day I still get a funny feeling when I look at a beautiful gemstone – jewels draw me in like magnets.

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2. What made you want to deal jewellery and how did your business start?

In some ways, jewellery is like a sparkly bank account; buying it can feel guilt-free because you are investing. Jewellery is also a way to connect. A lot of people come to us when they have lost someone, and that doesn’t necessarily mean buying heavy Victorian mourning jewellery. I had a woman who wanted an aquamarine to match her deceased husband’s eyes. Jewellery is an object that can express a personal feeling, and it can represent important milestones in people’s lives. It’s wearable art that gets passed down through families.

The business started on Facebook and grew to Instagram with some persuasion from my kids. It is usually a male-dominated industry, whereby everyone is very matter-of-fact about things, but I was selling as I bought in, and it gave me the freedom to talk about how much I personally loved a piece. It grew and grew on Facebook, and we are now at about 15,000 people. Before it was heavily a female demographic, but we are now also dealing with male clients, which is very exciting!

3. What has your experience been like working in a traditionally male-dominated field?

The jewellery trade is a funny old place; it is a singular sort of profession. You don’t have a shop as you are mainly trying to source jewels, and as I have been social media-based, I tend to build a relationship with people very quickly, in a personal way.

Read more: Château Mouton Rothschild’s artistic collaboration with Xu Bing

It was initially daunting for me at the fairs. People always assumed that I was part of the public rather than a dealer. I am lot younger, and most of the people I deal with in the industry are men. It was necessary for me to be taken around and given an introduction, and it was from there that I was able to build relationships.

4. Do you think your position as a younger woman accounts for your online success?

A lot of the old guard don’t use the internet at all, and it is the kids that are taking social media on, and doing really well. Unfortunately, I have heard that recently quite a lot of the old trade has had to shut up shop. The internet is taking over, but at the same time, it gives women a safe space in the jewellery world. So you could argue that going forward, women are going to have an advantage over men in some ways. As a woman, I wouldn’t want a shop as you inevitably put yourself at risk; I don’t know anyone in the trade that hasn’t been robbed in some way.

5. Have you noticed any jewellery design trends emerging recently?

Yellow gold is coming back with a bang! Whilst there has certainly been a big demand for platinum in the modern day, it is almost impossible to work with as it has to be heated to such a high temperature. There is also a trend towards minimalism in terms of materials; contemporary consumers want the thing to be the thing that it says it is.

6. What’s next for you?

For years, my nails were always shocking because I couldn’t see beyond the ring I was wearing and so we decided to make a nail varnish. We are going to crush up gemstones and use them to make a nail varnish which also doesn’t chip. You can have nails to match your ring and vice versa. It also means you can get an emerald on every finger for way less than the price of an actual emerald. We are trying to recreate that magnetism that comes from being in the presence of a great gemstone, but with nail varnish.

View the collection: kjj.rocks

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collage artwork
collage art

The Power Of Black And White, Dennis Osakue, Acrylic & Collage on Canvas, 150cm x 150cm, 2020

Signature African Art, one of Nigeria’s leading contemporary art galleries, opened its first European location in Mayfair, London in March this year and is now hosting a group exhibition entitled Say My Name in collaboration with award-winning writer and film director Ava DuVernay. Ahead of the show’s public opening tomorrow, we speak to the gallery’s director and curator Khalil Akar about the Black Lives Matter movement and power of visual art 

man in suit

Khalil Akar, Photo © Zaki Charles

1. What influenced the gallery’s decision to expand internationally, and why London in particular?

We have been supporting the work of African artists for the past 30 years, since opening the gallery in Lagos. We have been waiting for the right opportunity and the right time to open a space outside of the continent. Over the past few years, African art has become increasingly popular and having assessed the global art market, we felt this was the best time to open in London. We chose London as it is one of the art hubs of the world. We wanted to give our artists a platform to showcase their talent to the European market and we felt the UK was the best place in which to do so.

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2. How have global attitudes towards African art changed in recent years?

The global art market has finally started to recognise the contemporary talent that exists within the continent, outside of traditional art forms. We have seen increased sales of African art at auction houses, and fairs like 1-54 Contemporary African Art have helped to encourage a greater interest in art from Africa. The next step for the market would be to have a larger presence of African galleries in household fairs such as Art Basel.

collage of faces

George Floyd, Oluwole Omofemi, Acrylic on Canvas, 50cm x 50cm each, 2020

3. The timing of the gallery opening was rather unfortunate, how has the pandemic impacted business?

We opened a solo show by Nigerian artist Oluwole Omofemi just before lockdown, which was very popular by collectors and sold out. We have worked hard to adapt to the current circumstances and challenges, increasing our digital networking and outreach to collectors and providing virtual tours of our exhibitions to our audiences. The additional digital approach has allowed us to reach more collectors and increase sales.

contemporary art gallery

Installation view of Say My Name, presented by Ava DuVernay at Signature African Art, London, Photo © Mora Ltd

4. What was your curation process for the upcoming group show Say My Name and how did the collaboration with Ava DuVernay come about?

The curatorial process was rooted in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The vision was to shine a light on things that need to change in society including how Black people are perceived and treated in the global community. Ava and I discussed this theme at length for Say My Name, which also aligned with the topics raised in her 13th documentary for Netflix. The collaboration also focused on raising awareness of police brutality following Ava’s announcement of her LEAP (Law Enforcement Accountability Project) initiative, which aims to hold police in the US accountable through artistic storytelling. We’re planning to donate 40% of proceeds from the sales of both the London and LA shows to the fund. In terms of the artists selected, we have worked with them in the past and knew that they would feel strongly about paying tribute to these figures and histories in the UK and US. We wanted to connect the continent with the deep experiences of the diaspora.

Read more: Sculptor Helaine Blumenfeld on the power of public art

contemporary portrait

Breonna Taylor, Moufouli Bello, Acrylic on Canvas, 150cm x 120cm, 2020

collage artwork

Boshielo, Giggs Kgole, Anaglyph, Oil, Acrylic fabric & mixed media on Canvas, 230cm x 150cm, 2020

5. Many of the works celebrate key figures and moments in Black history, is it important that viewers recognise and understand these specific references?

It is hugely important that everyone knows the correct history and understands the references in the show. We hope that visitors to Say My Name will learn more about Black history in the US and UK and leave the gallery with food for thought on what part they can play in improving the current world system.

mixed media artwork

In Remembrance of Bruce’s Beach, Dandelion Eghosa, photography, analogue collage and embellishments with acrylic paints on canvas, 190 x 127cm, 2020

6. In a more general sense, how do you see visual art participating in wider contemporary discourse?

Visual art plays a key role in wider contemporary discourse and has the power to influence the status quo. As Say My Name opens in London, Americans continue to protest on the streets every day since the murder of George Floyd in May. On the continent, young Nigerians are now protesting and advocating for the #EndSARS movement. As an art gallery, we feel it is our responsibility to use our voice to continue and support these conversations to help the creation of a better world.

‘Say My Name’ runs until 28 November 2020 at Signature Art London, and will open in in Los Angeles in February 2021. For more information visit: signatureafricanart.com

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two woman standing in front of an abstract artwork at an exhibition

two woman standing in front of an abstract artwork at an exhibition

Born in Paris and raised in New York, Laura de Gunzburg is a partner of the exclusive members art club The Cultivist, where she acts as the Global Senior Director and Head of Strategic Development. She is also the Founder and Chair of the Dia Art Foundation’s Contemporary Associates, as well as a Contributing Editor at Cultured Magazine and a Co-Chair at the CFDA Fashion Trust. We put her in our 6 Questions hot seat.

1. Did you always want a career in the art world?

I had no intention of pursuing it really, because it was my mother’s thing. She was involved with Dia Art Foundation and my parents collected art. I don’t think I ever really thought about what I wanted to do growing up. I was a professional equestrian and riding took up a big part of my life, the plan was to go to the Olympics. After getting hurt one year and not being able to ride, I started filling my time with other things that made me realise I had other passions. During my time at The University of Miami, I didn’t want to study art history at first, but then I ended up taking the class and started to fall in love with it. Later on, opportunities presented themselves within the art world.

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2. What are the benefits of joining The Cultivist?

If one is fortunate enough, one should become a member to be able to be presented with the right information and artworks. In the time we live in, we are pushed to consume so much information and it is hard to determine what is worth your time and what isn’t. A recognisable name is often what we gravitate towards, however, in the art world a name is sometimes not enough to ensure that the exhibition is worth one’s time.

series of printed graphic materials

An example of the welcome package sent to members of The Cultivist

At The Cultivist, we edit and streamline everything the world has to offer. We help facilitate on the member’s behalf by presenting them with the information we believe they can benefit from. There is nothing commercial at The Cultivist. We organise private visits and book amazing curators and speakers to come and speak to our members. The Cultivist currently has offices in London, Brussels, Los Angeles, New York and Shanghai. We can help our members from any of these cities and one does not have to travel to make use of the membership. In London alone, we have four events every month which can be anything from a collection visit to a private studio tour. For example, we have previously done a pottery class with a ceramic sculptor and a private tour of the Da Vinci collection with the Queen’s conservator at Buckingham Palace. In Los Angeles, we have organised a private visit with the image archive at the Getty Centre, where they pulled out photographs for the members to see.

3. What does a normal day in your life look like?

Every day is very different. A big part of my job is engaging with new and prospective members at The Cultivist. I also engage with existing members, work on new opportunities, see new exhibitions and speak with partners for future collaborations. I am based between New York and London, travelling between the two cities.

A hand holding a membership card in front of an artwork

The Cultivist organises private visits to exhibitions and museums for their members

4. What do you wish to see more of in the art world?

I long for people who would speak more about the experience rather than the value of an artist or an art piece. There is an extensive amount of eagerness in regards to being market-driven. Art can often be seen as unapproachable. I believe art should be more about the experience and less about the value.

Read more: Photographer Koto Bolofo & Connolly celebrate Goodwood’s glamour

5. Who are your favourite artists at the moment?

In my personal collection, you can find Conrad Shawcross, Matt Connors, Louise Bourgeois and Sam Moyer. Another artist that I love is Wayne Thiebaud, he’s currently on my wish-list.

6. Where do you see yourself 10 years?

I see myself having my own business. The Cultivist will always be my baby as I am a partner of the company. However, I do want to build something of my own, something that stems from my own idea. I love connecting people and putting people together. That is what I am good at. I can see myself starting something related to that idea.

Follow Laura on Instagram: instagram.com/ldegunzburg

Interview by Andrea Stenslie

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installation view of a contemporary art exhibition
installation view of a contemporary art exhibition

Installation view of the ‘What’s Up’ exhibition curated by Lawrence Van Hagen in Hong Kong

Lawrence Van Hagen set out to start a travel tech company, and somewhere along the way, ended up curating a successful series of art exhibitions dedicated to supporting emerging artists. Now, Van Hagen runs LVH art, a business dedicated to helping clients navigate the international art market. Here, we speak to the entrepreneur about his unexpected career path, his favourite places to see art and how to start building a collection.

Man standing in a suit amidst contemporary art works

Lawrence Van Hagen

1. Can you tell us more about the What’s Up exhibitions and how you found yourself in the role of curator?

I started a travel start-up and in order to raise funds for it I decided to curate an art show. I wanted to curate a show since my family is in the arts. My mother has her own art foundation, collects, curates exhibitions and writes books on art. We decided to curate a show called What’s Up based on what’s up today in the art world with a focus on artists to look out for, whether they are young or established. We had the first show in Soho, New York with two spaces, 50 artists and 100 artworks. The next show turned out to be even more successful than the first.

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We have now had shows in New York, London, Hong Kong and Seoul. I work closely with my mother. It’s more my project, but my mother gives me a huge amount of advice and help. It is nice to be able to bounce ideas off one another. The good thing about working with family is trust, you know for sure with family. My mother has kind of been my mentor and taught me what I know today since I didn’t go to art school. However, since I was a kid I was immersed in the arts and always lived with art which led me to start started collecting at a young age.

2. Do you see yourself as a mediator between established and new artists?

A big thing I do with the shows is I tend to bring emerging artists or mid-career contemporary artists together with very well known names. I blend them and create a dialogue between both. I find similarities in inspiration, historical aspects, colours or medium between the established and emerging artists. I do the shows this way since I think that it is interesting and I believe that in order to attract people to a show with emerging artists, you need work by household names as well. Also, when you have younger artists at a show, it keeps the older generation more current. This way of curating shows has enabled me to have a client base from 20 to 80 years old. The older collectors have the most amazing collection of well known artists but now consider acquiring work by a young artist from the shows. I have noticed that the public enjoys shows set up this way.

3. Do you buy art for its beauty or as an investment?

My taste is very classic, I tend to focus on art that is more beautiful than conceptual. However, one thing I tell everyone including myself is to focus on buying what one likes. Whether it is beautiful work or not, it is important to know that you love the work. Second, it’s important to consider investment. For me, it’s a factor of the acquisition in my collection. If it is a very young artist, I tend to not look at it. However if I spend a certain amount of money, it has to have an investment purpose. I will not just spend a big amount of money on something I like, it has to also be of value and something I believe in. One thing to know about the shows I do is that many of the artists we showcase are artists that my mother and I collect. I love to promote the artists from my shows. Lastly, it is more important for people to find what they like, than to have an advisor tell them if what they like will be a good investment.

Abstract artworks on display in an exhibition

Artworks featured in one of the ‘What’s Up’ by artists Franz West, Stefan Bruggemann and Lucio Fontana

4. Which artists’ work do you have at home?

I have a selection of young and old artists. I have beautiful work by Georg Baselitz, who is a well known German painter and sculptor. I have two works by a young artist Donna Huanca, who is based in Berlin. She is an incredible artist, who just did a show at the Belvedere Museum in Vienna. In my entrance, I have a work from the 90s by the American artist Robert Rauschenberg. I have work by Sean Scully, Stefan Bruggemann, Stanley Whitney and George Smith. In the bedroom, I have a beautiful 60s Kenneth Noland. There’s a lot more too.

In my house, I mainly have contemporary work, but with simple classic older artists. Most of the younger artists are a part of my collection and the other work is from my mother. I tend to borrow as well. I always move the artwork around in my flat to create a different aesthetic. I am lucky because the ceilings in my apartment are very high which is rare in London, so I can hang up 3 metre work. It is important for me to keep a lot of art in my house since it is my passion and profession, and I also throw dinner parties where friends come over and they can see what I do. A few pieces of art makes a big difference to a home.

5. Best place to see art in London?

It depends what type of art you are looking for. In terms of galleries, if you want to see more established artists or big shows, all the major galleries from David Zwirner and Gagosian Gallery in New York to Simon Lee in London are great. In London, if you want younger artists, it is good to go to the east end or south of London where you have Carlos Ishikawa and Emalin gallery. When it comes to museums, my favourites are Tate Modern and Whitechapel Gallery for contemporary art. Tate Britain and Royal Academy are also great. Auction houses always have incredible work. If you are not looking for a curated show and you just want to see beautiful paintings, I would recommend the private view before sale at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips. The auction houses have anything from contemporary to established and renaissance pieces. Lastly, to be honest the number one place to see art in London is in people’s homes. Often artists have incredible work in their homes since they trade with people they know.

6. As travel was your first business venture, what’s your next destination?

My next big trip is to Indonesia. I want to visit the Raja Ampat Islands on New Guinea. I also want to see the Komodo Islands with the Komodo dragon when I am there as it is close by. I travel every week as it is part of my work and I love it. I get to see many beautiful places on work trips, however it is still work for me. Therefore, my personal travels are very meaningful and I like to travel quite far to experience something different. My last big trip was to the North Pole. I like to do adventure trips. I am not a very resort-y person, but I always make sure the adventures are mixed with comfort. If anyone needs a travel guide, I am the guy to ask!

Follow Lawrence Van Hagen on Instagram: @lawrencevh

Interview by Andrea Stenslie

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Reading time: 6 min
Models pose with lips puckered at fashion designer backstage
Models pose with lips puckered at fashion designer backstage

Mary Katrantzou (second from left) backstage at the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in New York

With a decade of successful collections behind her and a penchant for outside-the-box collaborations, Mary Katrantzou is a designer not only bursting with creativity but also with the business acumen to go truly global, as Carolyn Asome discovers

Don’t underestimate the agility required to keep up with Mary Katrantzou’s boundless curiosity, the ever-inventive ways she pushes herself out of her comfort zone, the rat-a-tat-tat of her myriad collaborations (more of which later) and fundamentally, her desire to never sit still.

Does Katrantzou, who for the past decade has wowed us with her own strand of quirky maximalism, breathtaking decoration techniques and architectural shapes, ever worry that her body may struggle to keep up with her mind? The Greek-born fashion designer (and veritable power house), who read architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design before studying for a BA in Textile Design at London’s Central Saint Martins, howls with laughter at this. “It’s true, I’ve turned 36… it probably doesn’t.”

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Few designers are able to confront the obstacles of growing their own business. Fewer still are able to articulate them quite as clearly as Katrantzou can – although one senses that she has always relished the challenge. Her voice lights up: “Growing your business is the ultimate in creativity. It forces you to have an understanding of the business of fashion. I don’t think you can have a company without that interest or without the ambition to be involved.”

In an increasingly volatile retail climate, what are the challenges she faces? “There are several, but one of them is having a voice that really stands out against the noise. There are lots of heritage brands with a rotation of designers at the helm. You need to really know what you stand for. I challenge myself to do that each year. You might think you have an idea of who your woman is, but it isn’t always as easy as you think it is. I am not designing for a romantic warrior…” she laughs. “Sure, she is bold and daring and she uses fashion as a tool of expression. What I design has an element of uplift, but it also has links to art and design – that is very much part of it, too.”

Model on the catwalk wearing a large multicoloured coat

A look from Mary Katrantzou’s AW19 collection

The conundrum of dealing with an ever- whizzier hamster wheel of production also looms large. Thankfully, Katrantzou explains this is far less of a taboo subject than it was in the past. “Three years ago, no one wanted to talk about it and you almost closed your eyes and hoped for the best, but now other designers talk and you realise we are all in the same boat. Because obviously it is going to affect your creativity.”

Her solution? “While we have four drops annually, there are only two thematic collections a year so that means we have longer to talk about something, but we still have the newness.” Another challenge she mulls over is how to move outside ready-to-wear and use her design talent in other areas. Given that Katrantzou trained as an architect, she enjoys the challenge of looking at things from different perspectives and the creativity that comes with designing in different realms.

“We’ve tried to shift the brands in both directions: at one end offering shows at a demi- couture level and building on our customer relationships so that they can buy from us as made-to-measure or bespoke, but also, to do collaborations with much bigger global brands which allows us to reach a far wider audience.”

Read more: Photographer Thomas Demand on abstract perspectives

Katrantzou enjoys the fact that collaborations force her to think in a completely different way. “It’s an entirely different end use of a product. You can be democratic in a way that as an independent brand you just can’t be, because you can’t reach those price points or your minimums and production runs are so different. The modern brand of today needs to be reaching out to all different price points and different tiers. You are communicating with your customer but offering her a very comprehensive way of being able to buy your brand. We are doing a tenth of what we can do as we are still largely a ready-to-wear brand, but we’ve created jewellery with Swarovski, and done a small homeware range with a friend, Brigitta Spinocchia Freund. We’re also doing a ballet at Sadler’s Wells with Russell Maliphant and music by Vangelis, which is obviously so different from what you get when creating the costumes for the Victoria’s Secret show.”

The designer’s interesting collaborations – ones which challenge the well-trodden formula of designer/highstreet unions – are what caught the eye of Chinese investor Wendy Yu, the 28-year-old who has earned herself the reputation as China’s unofficial fashion ambassador.

Two women posing in front of a green wall at an exclusive event

Mary Katrantzou with Wendy Yu 2017

Two years ago, Katrantzou took investment from Yu. “I’d noticed and loved Mary’s capacity and talent to expand into different product categories along with her infectious energy and drive,” says Yu. “She’s built a brand with a strong and unique identity. I can see the potential of Mary Katrantzou homeware and beauty… I think the Chinese consumer would really buy into the brand at this lifestyle level too.”

Yu was one of three who came in on a ‘family and friends’ round of investment. For Katrantzou, the idea was also to look at what investors could offer aside from the financial support. “Wendy has been helpful with expanding in China. She is someone who understands how to help build a brand between east and west, between fashion and the arts.” Katrantzou has also learnt that in order to create awareness in China, it takes much more than just visiting once a year. It’s visiting regularly and initiating activations that really engages.”

Despite following a wholesale model, Katrantzou finds that clients come to her, season after season. “It’s rare these days to have a really loyal client. I don’t know what it is about the brand that elicits that loyalty but whatever it is, I don’t take it lightly.” This modesty is typical of Katrantzou. Such is her talent that she has clients who own so many of her clothes, they might easily stage a retrospective of her collections. It is telling that one of her most devoted fans is also one of the biggest collectors of Phoebe Philo’s collections at Celine – “our aesthetics couldn’t be more opposite” – and yet, there is something about the power of Katrantzou’s craft, the detailing and point of view that elicits such fandom.

Women pose backstage in front of a rail of clothing

Katrantzou and friends at London Fashion Week, 2016

Last September, Katrantzou celebrated her tenth anniversary, filling Camden’s Roundhouse with a collection all about collecting and collectables. Instead of a ‘best of ’ tribute to the preceding decade, she riffed on philately and entomology. One gown resembled a Fabergé egg gleaming with crystals, while a bustier dress revealed an array of coloured stone rings within a jewellery box.

Read more: Why LUX loves the New Perlée creations by Van Cleef & Arpels

Her most recent collection was based on the elements – earth, air, fire and water – and how they exist within us. “I wanted to explore the fire – when you have that energy and passion; or air when you feel that sense of being light and free. And it was interesting to distil all of that into a collection as it was so abstract and unlike my previous collection, which was more literal and very object driven.”

Model on catwalk wearing large orange coat

A look from Mary Katrantzou’s AW19 collection

For water and air, Katrantzou explored silhouettes that were weightless, either in organza or tiers of ruffles, which “bounced in a cloudy way, or else we used feathers”, experimenting with materials and techniques that haven’t been explored before.

Today, there are 25 people in Katrantzou’s London studio and her label is sold in 50 countries. “Our strongest markets are in the US, the UK, southern Europe, the Middle East and now China,” she says. “You know you appeal to a certain type of woman, and while I’m not saying an archetypal woman, they do have something in common. And we don’t have to be big in the Nordic countries if we are not selling there.”

Increasingly, Katrantzou is thinking about how she fits into the world around her: what she stands for and how that extends to bigger topics. “Luxury for me is knowing you are not harming your environment, knowing that the pieces you create will last in someone’s wardrobe for ever. I find it interesting that clients increasingly come to me and say they want to spend x amount on this one dress rather than buy 20. There’s a return to craftsmanship, pieces that are made by hand. With demi-couture, you are supporting a more analogue approach to fashion. It isn’t a big percentage in terms of how many commissions we get, but it is a sizeable part of the business… and it’s growing.”

Find out more at: marykatrantzou.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 19 Issue.

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Reading time: 7 min
Painting of a group of young women in a bedroom setting
Abstract graphic style painting featuring red vibrant background

‘Dead End’ (2018), Loie Hollowell

Frank Cohen is one of the UK’s most renowned art collectors. Since selling his DIY business in 1997, he has built up a collection of more than 2,000 artworks by classic and contemporary artists. Here, he tells us how he caught the collecting bug, and which destinations are the most interesting for art right now.

Portrait photograph of the profile of a man on the phone

Frank Cohen. Image by Jonathan Straight

1. How did you first get into collecting?

As young as 7 years old I started to collect cigarette packets. In those days there were not so many brands and the cigarette packets had wonderful graphic designs on them. I asked all my aunts and uncles and my mothers friends to save the packets when they had smoked the cigarettes as everyone smoked in those days. 68 years ago it was fashionable and I kept them in mint condition always.

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When I was about 14 years of age I started collecting coins. One day when I went to a cinema in Manchester the cashier gave me a Victorian penny in my change. I had never seen one before so I took it to a numismatist, which was next to the cinema and he gave me half a crown for it! I collected coins for nearly 20 years and had one of the biggest collections of pattern coins in England.

Pattern coins are coins that were presented to the Royal Mint to be picked to go into circulation. I collected the ones that were never put into circulation, making them very rare. There were only about 10 minted of each, one always went to the Victoria & Albert Museum for their collection and the Queen gets one.

Painting of a shipping dock by L.S. Lowry

‘Glasgow Docks’ (1947), L.S. Lowry

2. Do you have an all time favourite artist?

I have all time favourite artists during different times in my collection. When I started collecting there was no contemporary art scene, so I collected Modern British art but if I could have afforded to buy anything I would have bought Picasso or Monet.

When I first started buying I bought Edward Burra, a fantastic English painter who only painted in water colours that looked like oils. I also bought L.S.Lowry, one of the greatest British painters of the last 100 years. In the late ‘70’s I bought Dubuffet and Miró from Leslie Waddington who let me pay for them over 2 or 3 years, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to collect them. Afterwards he offered me Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns and Mark Rothko, that were actually very cheap but I still couldn’t afford them. Today they are worth millions! You win some and lose some and I don’t regret anything or anything I bought.

3. If your collection could speak, what would it say about you?

My collections speak to me and my wife Cherryl, who has always been very important and supportive in my career. We’ve really collected together. I don’t care what anybody else thinks. It would say to me ‘I love you because you have made the right choice’.

Abstract painting featuring multiple figures in pink, red and blue

‘La Vie en Rose’ (1980), Jean Dubuffet

4. What’s the most interesting destination for art right now and why?

I suppose the Far East is an interesting destination right now for buyers but because the world is global there are some really good artists coming through from Brazil, Africa, Thailand and Romania. America, Germany and London, France and Italy were always at the forefront.

Read more: Contemporary ceramicist Edmund de Waal at The Frick Collection, NYC

5. Have you ever doubted your artistic judgment?

I have never doubted my artistic judgment because it’s me buying the artist. To put it another way I have bought some terrible things over the years and some great things – how do you judge it, how much money is it worth? I have done very well but I haven’t bought for that reason. I have artists that will never ever increase in value but I love them still.

Painting of a group of young women in a bedroom setting

‘Anonymous Now’ (2019), Chloe Wise

6. What’s your exhibition recommendation for this year?

My recommendations for this year mean nothing except to me, as no doubt people that read this article will naturally have a different view. Besides all the classic artists I have collected over the years, I have also bought young artists as well right now like Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Alex de Corte, Chloe Wise, William Monk and Loie Hollowell.

Read more of our 6 Questions interviews here

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Reading time: 3 min
Luxury men's watch with black and red dial
Contemporary watch by high concept luxury brand URWERK

The UR-105 provides an analogue and digital display of the time

URWERK’s unique approach to high horology has established it as one of the most creative and desirable brands in the industry. URWERK’s watches are like nothing else on the market, reinventing the design of a timepiece to put function and artistry above conventional wisdom; and, despite their modernity, taking inspiration from the Huguenot tradition of clock making that once changed the world. LUX Editor in Chief Darius Sanai speaks with Felix Baumgartner about innovations and collaborative design

LUX: You grew up around English clockmaking rather than watches. Can you tell us a bit about your early education in the industry?
Felix Baumgartner: Absolutely, my grandfather worked at IWC, but my father didn’t really like the big company structures; he was more into history, antique clocks. So after working at IWC for a brief period, my father opened up his own atelier at home, where he still restores clocks. That was my school, it was where I learned about clocks, and also about watchmaking because it is similar. There’s a difference in proportion between clocks and watches, and watches are only 120 years old, before that you only had clocks.

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When I grew up in the beginning of the 90s I saw a watch industry which was very much focussed on watches with very traditional tourbillon, but all the time there were the same complications and the same approaches, which, for me, was not at all contemporary. From my mother, I learnt a contemporary open-mindedness (my mother loved, and still loves, contemporary art, architecture and music) and from my father I learnt the history, knowledge and mechanical passion. However, it was difficult to bring these two things together so I started working with Martin Frei (co-founder of URWERK). Martin isn’t actually a designer, he was working in film and painting at the time we met, but it was so interesting for me to work with someone from the artistic world to create a new concept for a watch, and to think about what a watch can be today.

Watch designer at work in the studio

Felix Baumgartner at work in the URWERK studios

LUX: Had anyone else taken this approach in high end horology?
Felix Baumgartner: I think in high end watchmaking we were the first. You have Audemars Piguet; in the 70s, they made the Royal Oak, and the Royal Oak as a case is very contemporary. It is a very, very nice watch but they concentrated on the case, and didn’t look at the movement. In traditional watchmaking, you always have a case and then you have the movement inside, it is very separate and what is unique about our approach is that we create one piece, in which the movement and case speak together. What we do is very pure, very minimalist.

LUX: Did you know that people would want something like this at the high end or did you just hope? How did you create the market for your watches?
Felix Baumgartner: We were very naive! I was 22 years old, Martin was a bit older, but we were both very young, we are still young… You have to understand everybody had these polished wooden cases with a nice golden watch and we wanted to disturb the old values. When you look at architecture, or cars for example, the design process moves on but the watchmakers in Switzerland still continue with the same methods.

A lot of other watch brands try to copy what was done 100 years ago, but it is changing. 20 years ago we were absolutely alone, apart from at the entrance level where you always had contemporary watches such as Swatch; Swatch was absolutely up to date. In the middle range you had Tag Heuer and Omega. But we’re not businessmen, I’m a watchmaker and Martin is an artist, we love what we do, it’s 100% passion. We showed up at 22 years old and some people hated it, others were astonished, they didn’t know what was going on.

Read more: Swarovski x Design Miami/ designers of the future

LUX: The mechanical movement in your watches is very advanced and sophisticated…
Felix Baumgartner: Yes, we are working with the latest materials and because most of our mechanisms didn’t exist in the past, we have to invent them, which is challenging.

The UR-210 is our most complicated watch today, but it still feels simple. It is a very nice way to tell the time, because you can read the time actually without having to turn the wrist. We only make 150 watches per year, it’s a very limited production. The parts are made in Zurich by a very specific professional team, and then in the town of Aarau there’s a team doing the research, the technical dossier, the engineers and prototyping and in Geneva you have final assembling and then the communication side.

Luxury men's watch with black and red dial

The UR-210 in black platinum

LUX: The people who buy Urwerk what do they have in common? It seems that buying watches like yours is like collecting art or cars…
Felix Baumgartner: Yes, to me, the watchmaking of today is an expression of mechanical artisanal art. It’s a little machine that you have on your wrist, which you can understand, you can hear it, you can feel it and at the same time it tells you the time. But it also is kind of a jewellery, a “bijou” for men, also for women.

LUX: How does your collaborative design process work?
Felix Baumgartner: I’ve known Martin for 25 years, and we’ve worked together on URWERK for 20 years. We call our design process: ‘ping-pong’. We meet, but also speak on the phone almost everyday. Martin lives and works in Zurich, whilst I’m in Geneva most of the time so we play with ideas then he sends it over and I send it back, it’s a ping pong. Largely though, I’m still the mechanic and he’s the aesthete.

Read more: Luxury handbag brand Moynat opens with style in Selfridges, London

LUX: Unlike many luxury brands, you don’t do any kind of celebrity marketing. You say that the product speaks for itself, what do you mean by that?
Felix Baumgartner: We are lucky because we do not have to go the ambassadors, to the actors or to the important people in the industry, they are coming to us. For example, Ralph Lauren is a collector of several works, Jackie Chan wore the UR-202 in a film and basketball player, Michael Jordan. Robert Downey Jr has worn our watches in movies too. Usually companies like Sony Pictures ask a lot of money for product placement, but it was Robert Downey Jr who asked us, not the other way round!

LUX: What’s next for URWERK? Any big plans?
Felix Baumgartner: Let’s say it’s already happening, we are working on a new invention which we will present in a few months…

To view URWERK’s collections visit: urwerk.com

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Reading time: 6 min
contemporary african art
Peterson Kamwathi contemporary african artist

Peterson Kamwathi, Medical Establishment-from the Sitting Allowance series, 2009, Courtesy of The Heong Gallery

Robert Devereux, former partner of the Virgin empire, served as chairman of the board of Frieze, the Tate Africa Acquisitions Committee and as an advisor to 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair. Kitty Harris caught up with the African contemporary art collector at The Heong Gallery at Downing College Cambridge for the exhibition of his Sina Jina collection: ‘Where the Heavens Meet the Earth’ to discuss the evolution of the art world, the importance of museums and his long African walk.

Kitty Harris: After completing your degree in History at Cambridge University you went into to publishing and then to work for your then to be future brother in law, Richard Branson. How did this journey lead you to the arts?
Robert Devereux: I got into the arts primarily because of my family. My mother, who particularly loved literature and my dad who had a great love of the visual arts and artefacts. We spent a lot of our summer holidays in Italy which involved going to museums and art galleries. Every year for my mother’s birthday and Christmas present, from the age at which I had pocket money, I brought a reproduction of a Tallantyre piece from Morpeth where we lived. She loved Bruegel’s work so our house was full of them; sadly, none of them were originals.

KH: And why did you start buying art?
RD: It’s so long ago now, I’m not sure if I can remember the answer. I started buying in the late 70s and early 80s when my wife had an art gallery. I don’t suppose I would have become a collector if I hadn’t started in order to support the gallery, maybe not. I started because Vanessa [Branson] had a gallery in Notting Hill. Interestingly, she had three or four African artists in her stable which was highly unusual and completely coincidental, because that was before my engagement in Africa.

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KH: What draws you to the art you do buy?
RD: Like all creative endeavours, an emotional response. Be it excitement, intrigue, interest. I wouldn’t buy a piece if it didn’t move the hairs on the back of my neck – not an intellectual approach I know, but then I begin to try to understand the works. I am fascinated by the thought process – why? Does it mean anything? And if so, is it purely pictorial, sculptural or is there some other significance?

KH: You’ve expressed an aversion to being called a “collector”, preferring the term buyer…
RD: A supporter. Often people say a Patron, I suppose there is nothing wrong with being a Patron but it does also have the connotation of patronage. I would like to think that both my collecting and my creation of the The African Arts Trust are for the support of the artists.

KH: How do you think the purchasing of art has changed since you began in the 70s and 80s?
RD: It’s changed out of all recognition. I was collecting mainly British art then and buying from London galleries, mainly Vanessa’s. The number of collectors, certainly of contemporary art, you could count on the fingers of one had. There were practically none of us. And now, it’s a huge industry and there are hundreds of collectors. There’s been an extraordinary snow balling effect. The creation of the Tate Modern, which has nothing to do with collectors, but it’s interesting that contemporary art has become a huge contemporary cultural phenomenon. The Tate Modern is one of the most visited institutions in the world and that’s amazing given what its content is.

African contemporary art

Aida Muluneh, No. 7 from the 99 series, 2013. Courtesy of The Heong Gallery

KH: Museums seem to have become the attraction of cities…
RD: Yes. Take the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain. Now everybody knows that if you want to create social and economic regeneration you do it with an arts project, which is great. I had an interesting conversation with some older artists the other day who said, “When we left art school the thought of being a full time practising artist and earning our living from it never occurred to us. We went to teach or went to work in a museum.” And whilst they would have said it is definitely better now, there is something missing from that period when artists never had to think about selling work, or creating art for gallery deadlines or commercialising. Which is not to say that I think all artists do commercialise because I think most don’t. I think the commercial marketplace does have an effect on the art produced.

Contemporary african art

Lynette Yiadom Boakye, High Power, 2008, Courtesy of The Heong Gallery

KH: Do you think that the role of ultra-high net worth’s in purchasing art has changed the art world? Do you think there is a disconnect between creators and consumers? Or that perhaps artists create for consumers?
RD: I think we live in a very mixed ecology. I think all of the above. It happens in places where there is no real art market where an artist finds that they do something and the local tourists buy it and so they continue to do that because they know it will sell. And then there are artists who completely ignore that phenomena. One thing I find unattractive is art as a fashion and there is a strong element of that in the art market. Of art having become just a display of wealth, a sign of good taste (whatever that means) and a status symbol. I’m not going to name names but suddenly artists take off and it’s very clever artist manipulation by galleries and a few collectors.

KH: You served as Chairman of the board of Frieze, what do you think of the term ‘Fair Fatigue’ and what future do you see for art fairs?
RD: I think they will remain undoubtedly. I don’t say this to support Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp [the founders of Frieze]. There are as many art fairs as there are because they serve a valuable purpose. Are there too many of them? Maybe there are, maybe there aren’t. I think there will be ups and downs and peaks and troughs. I don’t have any doubt that art fairs will be a critical part of the future of the art world. They are wonderful and dreadful at the same time.

african art collecting

Nandipha Mntambo, Enchantment, 2012, Courtesy of The Heong Gallery

KH: You sold your 416 works of post-war British art in 2010 with Sotheby’s to start The African Art Trust. Was it hard to part with those works?
RD: I should probably say it was. Not at the time, it actually wasn’t. Partly because I got to the point where I needed to do something and inevitably as any collector does, you end up with work in storage which I think is most unfortunate. I had come up with the notion of The African Art Trust and the only way I could afford to fund it was to sell the works. I think that made it relatively simply because I think I felt I was doing it with clear and worthwhile purpose. Now, six years later, there are probably parts of that collection that I miss more now than I did then. I don’t really miss them. I miss them in the sense that I still think about them and they are in my imagination. That’s great because in a way I haven’t lost them.

Read next: The rebirth of Annabel’s, London’s most glamorous club

KH: The funds went to establish The African Arts Trust, a body that continues to fund grass roots organisations in expanding opportunities for artist. Why Africa? And what was your priority with this organisation?
RD: Africa because I had spent a lot of time there and I had been collecting African art for seven or eight years. I suppose I felt with a relatively modest sum of money, it was possible to make, hopefully, an impact there. Whereas if I’d have spent that amount of money in the UK it would have been a drop in the ocean. Also, I think the need there is much greater, which is not to pretend it’s not tough being an artist wherever you are; even in an extremely bright developed economy like ours. I do support The Showroom here, but in a much more modest way. I recognised there were lots of wonderful artists there who could do with a leg up, or some help or some support or some recognition.

Zanele Muholi, Miss D’vine II photography

Zanele Muholi, Miss D’vine II, 2007, Courtesy of The Heong Gallery

Kitty Harris: Tell us more about your Sina Jina Collection?
Robert Devereux: I’ve got a house in Lamu, an amazing Muslim community on the North coast of Kenya. And the house which I brought years and years ago, unusually had no name because it’s very old house and all of the houses in Lamu have a name bestowed upon by the families that own them. So I called the house ‘Sina Jina’ which means the house with no name. The collection never had a name until quite recently and for reasons that I can’t really remember I thought it better have a name. I prefer not to use my name if I possibly can. I called it ‘Sina Jina’ and there are probably 400 works; I’m not sure how many there are.

‘Where the Heavens Meet the Earth’ was a lovely title for the recent exhibition at The Heong Gallery, Downing College Cambridge and there is a certain spirituality of wonderful art – the earthly nature of the pieces connects them. The use of recycled materials: paper and wood. They are dis-proportionally from Eastern and Southern Africa because that’s where I spend most of my time, but there is lots of Western African art in there too; it’s all sub-Saharan. It doesn’t lose significance coming to London, it may change the context or meaning or just have a different significance. It’s medium agnostic. Photography is something I didn’t really collect when I was collecting British art, which is partly because I don’t think I’ve got a very good eye for photography. But there is quite a lot of photography in the collection, which I think partly reflects that there is a very strong practice of it in those countries.

KH: You’re not a gallery, how do you coordinate an international art collection?
RD: I don’t really! There’s not a plan. I do it myself. My girlfriend happens to be my art assistant as well. She does the archiving and tracks things as they move around the country. I haven’t got a curator and I think to me that would be a slightly weird thing to do, For me, the main enjoyment and what I get most out of it personally is exploring the artist’s world, meeting with them and engaging with them. I understand if you have big ambitions as a collector why you would have to do that. I would rather it subject to a random degree of subjectivity and was kept very personally.

Rotimi Fani Kayode,

Rotimi Fani Kayode, Grapes, 1989, Courtesy of ABP and The Heong Gallery

KH: What’s next for you?
RD: I went for a long African walk at the end of 2015/16. I walked the length of the African Rift Valley. I spent six and half months walking and the reason I mention it is that one of the reasons I did it was to clear my decks. So that I could come back and think about the last twenty years of my life (which are probably the last twenty active years of my life) and decide what I wanted to do. Before I went away I stopped collecting about six months before I left and haven’t really started again. I’ve bought one or two things. One of the things the walk made me think about, which I think about continuously anyway, is what am I doing as a collector? I’ve got a relatively small resource and how is it best used and applied? Is the best way of spending what I have got to collect? Or should I use that money in different ways? Anything I buy now goes straight into storage, which is ridiculous. I’ve got to the point in my life, I’m an old man, where I ‘m beginning to think where is it going to go eventually? In an ideal world, I would love to gift it to an institution, ideally to an African one. It would be wonderful if it could go back to Africa, but there’s nowhere obvious that I know of where it could go to. Then of course my children, in many way it’s as much theirs as it is mine. Quite what they would wish to do with I’m not sure. I’m trying not to start buying again until I’ve solved some of those issues.

KH: Which piece of art would you save in a fire?
RD: There’s always two ways of asking that question which is either: which is your favourite piece? Of which I don’t have one. Or to do what you did, which my cunning son asked. My answer: the one nearest to me. I really don’t have a favourite. I’m now trying to imagine myself in the fire and running out and it would be whatever I could realistically get out.

 

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Reading time: 11 min
Sotogrande Grand Prix

Over the course of five days from Wednesday 24 May to Sunday 28 May 2017, southern Spain from Seville to Sotogrande welcomes the automobile elite for rallies, exhibitions, sales and displays of an eclectic selection of classic cars. The Andalucian route, weaving through picturesque cities and pine forests, ends each year with the legendary three-day Grand Prix festival of speed trials and Concours d’Elegance held in the stunning setting of La Reserva Club at Sotogrande alongside star-studded cocktail evenings and garden parties. Here LUX recounts this year’s weekend in pictures

 

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Reading time: 1 min
British artist grayson perry london exhibition
British Artist Grayson Perry at Serpentin

Grayson Perry, Installation view, Serpentine Gallery, London. Photograph: Robert Glowacki.

British artist Grayson Perry refers to himself as a “communicator”, one who is aiming to “communicate to as wide an audience as possible”, which means, at this time, bridging the gap in Britain between a divided society. As such, the centrepiece of “The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!”, at the Serpentine Gallery, are the Brexit pots (provocatively titled “The Matching Pair”), which were created with the help of the British public who were invited, through social media, to contribute ideas, images and phrases. From across the room, these huge blue vases look remarkably similar; look closer and the images reveal not only two opposing view-points, but the artist’s own political sway. The Leave pot has Nigel Farage, Big Ben, Winston Churchill and ketchup, whilst the Remain pot is a collage of romance and literature, with a portrait of Shakespeare and kissing couples.

Grayson Perry

‘King of Nowhere’, 2015, Cast iron and mixed media, Photography: Stephen White.

Elsewhere, Grayson pokes fun at fat cat art collectors with one liner quips scrawled across his ceramics, such as “flat whites against racism”, and “luxury brands for social justice”. The bronze sculptures are perhaps the most striking, delving deep into the modern psyche and issues of identity: “King of Nowhere” is a wide legged, cap-wearing drunk with scissors and knifes plunged into his skin, surrounded by miniature bottles of whisky. It’s an overwhelming and chaotic insight into Grayson’s mind, a whirlwind of contrasting words and images that confront the viewer from even the most mundane of objects. Amusing on the surface with ominously aggressive undertones, it seems to me, to be a fairly accurate reflection of the current state of British society.

Millie Walton

Grayson Perry: The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever!” runs until 10th September 2017 at The Serpentine Gallery, London 

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By Darius Sanai
Editor in Chief

Starting on Friday November 25, around 480 supercars and classics will be up for sale in Milan at the RM Sotheby’s Duemila Route (“two thousand wheels”) auction. But it’s not the just the quantity of stock or the lack of a reserve that has excited collectors and dealers from around the world: it’s the quality and variety of the collection.

From a single owner whose business assets were seized by the Italian government, the sale is of a connoisseur’s collection of some of the most exciting and prized cars of the past 40 years, including a phenomenal selection of the hottest market category right now, so-called “modern classics”. The collection is short on the prewar Bentleys and 1950s Jaguars that might have made up a classic collection in the past; instead, it features some of the hottest cars of the modern era.

Read next: Mercedes-Benz launches new book with Condé Nast

The star of the show may be a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/6c Alloy, estimated at more than 2.5 million euros (although, hypothetically, if nobody else bids, it could be yours for a fraction of that). However much of the attention has been focused on more modern cars. These include one of a handful of Ferrari 599 Fioranos made with a manual transmission instead of the much more common paddle-shift; a rare Ferrari 575 Maranello with the same transmission; two Porsche 911 GT2s from the ‘996’ model designation, considered the last of the raw driving experience Porsches; a Ferrari F512M, the final, rarest, most powerful and desirable of the Testarossa series of the 1980s and 1990s; and many more, including rally cars from Lancia, a desirable ‘plexi’ Ferrari Daytona, and a 25th Anniversary edition of the legendary Lamborghini Countach, designed by Horacio Pagani, who later went on to found the Pagani supercar brand.

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The collection of the unfortunate, bankrupted collector was as broad as it is deep, with cars for fans of every marque and at every price level: if fast BMWs are your thing, there is a brace of original BMW M3s, a M635 CSi and an original M Coupe. There are Porsches from 1970 to 2007 (a 997 GT3 RS).

Read next: Salvatore Ferragamo on Tuscan indulgence

“It’s an extraordinary selection – there is every Porsche 911 you can imagine, for example,” says Alain Squindo, COO of RM Sothebys. “It was amassed relatively discreetly, the collection was not known about before. What’s particularly interesting about this auction is that it highlights what’s particularly appealing to new collectors, 30 and 40 year olds coming into the car world. They are not interested in prewar grand sedans: instead we have sporting high performance stuff, Porsche 911s, Lancia Integrales, Alfas, Astons, thrilling high horsepower stuff.” It’s the sheer quantity that fascinates, he points out: there are two fibreglass Ferrari 308s, four Ferrari Testarossas (all red).

Squindo says most of the cars are “cosmetically pristine” while emphasising that RM Sotheby’s hasn’t had time to inspect them all and that bidders need to look carefully at the particulars in the catalogue. If your newly acquired Ferrari 400i doesn’t work, there’s no comeback.

Still, for a collector of modern classics, the atmosphere will be of a child in a sweetshop. The world’s biggest sweetshop. Just don’t get carried away. Now, I’m going to look at one of those Ferraris…

rmsothebys.com/tv16/duemila-ruote/

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Fotofever Paris is a friendly kind of art fair. It welcomes newcomers, whether or not their pockets are deep, and favours fresh faced talent. Ahead of the fair’s fifth edition, held under the majestic roof of the Carrousel du Louvre, Millie Walton speaks to the founder and director, Cécile Schall about the emotional impact of artwork, how digital apps have affected photography and the next generation of collectors.

founder of fotofever

Cécile Schall. Image by Paola Guigou

Millie Walton: What inspired you to start fotofever?
Cécile Schall: My passion for photography is something that’s always been with me, fed by my family’s attachment to this art form for many generations. I founded fotofever 5 years ago, driven by the feeling I had when I purchased my first ever artwork 8 years ago; the emotion took over me and I knew I had to have that work. I found a way, through instalments, so that I could have it in my home and enjoy it every day. I now want to show other art lovers, that it’s possible to become a collector and also demonstrate why it is important to collect, which will support artists and to allow great artistic creation to continue.

MW: How do you compete against more established and larger art fairs?
CS: fotofever stands out from the other fairs firstly because it is the only one focused on encouraging and guiding new collectors. Our program ‘start to collect’ has been created specifically to offer new collectors a selection of quality artworks within a price range attainable for new collectors ( less than 5,000 Euros). It will also offer more established collectors some guidelines and the basic principles about collecting photography, so that they can ‘safely’ let their heart fall for an artwork and purchase it.

Fumikazu Ishino photography

Fumikazu Ishino ‘A Caramel Tooth Filling’. Courtesy Einstein Studio

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I see photography as the most appropriate medium to begin buying and collecting contemporary art. It’s the most accessible aesthetically and financially. Today, however, unfortunately we see that most people who have the financial means to collect, hesitate to take that first step. Often this is because the art world is intimidating to novices.

Fotofever is the perfect hunting ground for confirmed collectors who seek to discover the artists of tomorrow – our independence allows us to present galleries with a bold program. Highlights of this year’s fair include the new zig-zag scenography, The Collector’s Apartment and organised discussions between artists, collectors and gallerists.

Eric Bouvet photography

‘Burning Man’ 2012 by Eric Bouvet, Courtesy Galerie Hegoa

MW: What advice would you give to someone looking to start a collection?
CS: To start a collection, you first have to realise that you don’t need to be wealthy or an art expert to buy your first piece of art. There is no set age to begin a collection, nor one to stop.

As a starting point, look for a theme that speaks to you, that is close to your heart, a passion. The theme is sometimes unconscious and may reveal itself to you well after the purchase of the first work…

Go to a gallery that you feel comfortable with, one where you imagine trust can be established. Perhaps that represents an artist who you’re already aware of.

Read next: In conversation with Frieze art fair’s co-founder, Matthew Slotover

Follow your heart and wait for the right moment. When you come across a good work, you’ll know. It will be like a light bulb has been switched on inside your head.

Despite this wave of emotion, keep your feet on the ground and start “small” when it comes to price and do not hesitate to ask the gallery if you can pay in monthly instalments as many are open to this.

Hugh Arnold's underwater photography series

Hugh Arnold. ‘Series Agua Nacida’. Courtesy Hilton Asmus Foto

MW:How do you think the art market has changed in recent years?
CS: The art market has evolved a great deal over the last decade, especially with the development of online galleries, or physical galleries that sell online. This has broken down a lot of galleries and encouraged more transparency with pricing, something that we agree with at fotofever is displaying the price as one of the exhibitor requirements.

MW: Are there any particular themes or trends that you can see emerging in photography?
CS: Each year fotofever gives birth to new collectors thanks to an eclectic selection of several hundred works presented by galleries from around the world. If it were not for these galleries and their expanding horizons, then this would not be able to happen. As a forward-looking photography art fair we are open to all new types of photography and its artists. Technology is moving fast and many of the galleries at fotofever mirror this, whether it’s the discovery of artists on Instagram or tricky aerial photography.

Antonie Rose photography

Antoine Rose. ‘Spiagge Bianche Study 2 Serie Tuscany 2015’. Courtesy Xin Art Galerie

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Millie Walton: How do you think digital apps like Instagram, have impacted the world of photography?<>
Cécile Schall: We live in an image-saturated world. Everyone carries some type of camera on them and are encourage to use it, to document, to share, sometimes to show-off! There is a generation that have grown up surrounded by photography. One of the focuses of fotofever is to educate the younger generation about photography as an art form, rather than a lifestyle accessory.

One of the main challenges we see when it comes to contemporary photography is its reproducibility, as opposed to the uniqueness of a painting or a sculpture. Photographers are creating more and more unique works to make them stand out not only visually but creatively too.

Edouard Taufenbach photography

Edouard Taufenbach. Cinema 1p Serie Cinema. Courtesy Galerie Gratadou Intuiti

This challenge is to do with the apparent simplicity of the photography practice, in a world where everyone with a smart phone considers themselves a photographer. It can give photography the status of a simple reproduction technique, when the creative process of some artists is very complex and part of the uniqueness of their work – such as Catherine Balet who worked full-time over 3 years to create her series Looking For The Masters in Ricardo’s Golden Shoes, or Antoine Rose who rides an helicopter over seaside resorts to take perfectly vertical shots.

For children ‘Les p’tits collectionneurs’ (the little collectors) is a 25m2 area at the heart of the fair that we’ve created in order to host fun and free educational workshops for children aged 6-12 years old. We want to show to children the entire creative process behind a photographic work by allowing them to take on the role of model, photographer and graphic designer.

The 18-35 generation also buy a lot online and social media has become influential in their decisions. Although we think that the physical encounter with an artwork is essential, the internet is an amazing information tool. We have been working on our web site to present all the artists that have been exhibited by the 300 galleries at fotofever since 2011. Our idea is to turn this site into a catalogue so that it acts as the fair’s continuum to support these partnerships.

Keren Bereshit photography

Keren Bereshit. 3 Bereshit 2002. Courtesy Lelia Mordoch

MW: In your view, what makes a good photograph?
CS: It’s unexplainable, judging whether an image is a good photograph is something that comes from experience but also from deep emotions. It’s completely subjective and that’s what makes walking around a photography fair such an interesting experience, to be able to see so many versions of a photograph as a work of art.

Read next: Art is the greatest legacy, says auctioneer Simon de Pury

MW: Which participating galleries are you most excited about this year?
CS: Throughout the year preparing the fair, the fotofever team has looked for the most promising, local and international galleries sharing its commitment to emerging contemporary artists using photography as a medium, so we are looking forward to seeing all the projects to be presented in real at the fair.

We are excited for all our exhibitors for different reasons, some because they have come so far (Asia for example), others because they are new, some because they’ve been with us from the beginning. They all add to the eclectic mix, but they all have fresh approaches to photography that you won’t see at other fairs.

fotofever paris 2016, runs from 11th to 13th November at the Carrousel du Louvre

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Francois Paul Journe is the CEO of the eponymous Geneva-based watch company that is the ultimate object of desire for some of the world’s most discerning collectors. For our Luxury Leaders series, he talks to Darius Sanai about how F.P.Journe’s watch business has thrived as an independent, focused on scientific precision, in a world dominated by luxury groups.

Francois Paul Journe watchmakers at work

FP Journe watchmaker’s atelier

LUX: Why have you succeeded where so many others have failed?
Francois Paul Journe: I believe we have to go back in time to explain. Watchmaking schools do not teach to conceive a watch and being a watchmaker is not synonymous with changing a battery. I was lucky enough, after finishing my watchmaking school, to work with my uncle Michel, renowned antique horology restorer in Paris and learn “on the field” to repair complicated watches, benefit from his experience and discover a world of culture the school does not teach. My uncle was also the curator of the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris, I discovered the most astounding creations by the great French Masters and that obliged me to go further in my research, in order to create watches as beautiful as theirs. But I had to work tirelessly and acquire a real knowledge of the horological history. You do not acquire this kind of experience at school. I became totally passionate and horology became my life.

At the time, there were maybe 15 collectors who were interested to buy authentic horology as the quartz was revolutionising the watch industry and haute horology was not any more in the trend. I had to wait for the taste of clients to revert to real horology until about 1991 when I sold my first wristwatch with tourbillon. I set up my own independent manufacture, to remain independent above all and not have to depend on anyone. From then on, I created a full collection and I never stop selling my watches after that.

Read next: Jean-Claude Biver on the evolution of luxury

Also, F.P.Journe is the only manufacture in the centre of Geneva, and we are producing 95% of the haute horlogerie components necessary to make our watches, dial and cases included. We also offer a true watchmaking art. Each certified watchmaker makes a specific watch according to his technical sensitivity, and performs all production stages from beginning to end without anyone interfering in the process. A long lost privilege in today’s industrial watchmaking that is more and more segmented.

This is why my horology is different, authentic and respecting the fundamentals of haute horology. Above all, I remain in my own path, innovation, quality and independence. And collectors appreciate our authenticity, transparency and our permanent researches for precision, innovation and exclusivity.

Luxury watchmaker and owner of eponymous brand FP Journe

Francois Paul Journe

LUX: How does history inform your brand?
Francois Paul Journe: I respect the history of horology as a musician would study Mozart. If one does not understand the philosophy of the ancient grand watchmakers which only goal was to make watches that were giving the exact time, then you only create gadgets.

LUX: How can you make a product stand out to a consumer who owns everything?
Francois Paul Journe: Our collectors who can have the best money can buy, and above all, exclusive objects know that I am running an independent manufacture with an integrated production of all the components necessary for the making of our watches. It includes the creation and production of all its dial and watch cases which echo our 18 karat rose gold movement in perfect harmony. We are the only manufacture in the world to do so. My goal is continue my pursuit of precision in creating innovative precision chronometers in the respect of the fundamental values of haute horology and I will not disrupt this rule under any circumstances.

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LUX: What is luxury?
Francois Paul Journe: Luxury is a term that has been perjured and used outrageously. It means excellence, know-how and innovation, within a limited production combined with genuine craftsmanship, an exclusive design with a genuine authenticity. It is also a desirable object that is not a necessarily a necessity.

LUX: How do you honour tradition while still innovating?
Francois Paul Journe: You can certainly innovate but you have to respect the fundamentals in high horology that have pertained for over 2 centuries, and there are not many horologists doing so today. I am proud to be one of the only fervent defendants of the fundamental values of haute horlogerie. We have a real manufacture and we continue to produce our watches as if they were scientific objects. That is how watches were considered in the 18th century.

LUX: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced as the owner and CEO of a luxury brand?
Francois Paul Journe: Independence is in your genes; for me it is not negotiable. Many of the challenges I set for myself would be difficult to achieve if I depended on large financial groups, on a financial side as well as on a creativity side and on a component production side. When I create a new calibre, I can modify components as I please in no time as they are made in our manufacture and I don’t have to depend on a supplier either.

As an independent, we have to demonstrate a strong resistance against big groups and provide a genuine authentic concept and rely on ourselves only. We thus have to be self sufficient and control our production as well as our sales network. That is why we have opened our own network of boutiques which are offering the best possible service to our client, a professional approach of high horology and a perfect knowledge of our collections, without mentioning receiving our clients in a décor at the image of our brand. But creativity is our most powerful weapon to exist and coming out of groups’ shadow.

Big groups sell industrial watches, and we are selling authentic high horology watches. I can only hope a certain public will know how to make the difference and do justice to the genuine values of craftsmanship that we will never cease to perform.

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LUX: Would you define F.P.Journe as a discovery brand?
Francois Paul Journe: I don’t know what you mean exactly by a discovery brand. We can be called a discovery brand in the sense of innovation as we are producing innovative mechanism, or reunite different technical developments another brand have not put together, i.e. the Tourbillon Souverain with remontoir d’égalité and we are the only ones to do so. If you mean a recent brand, yes we are not for the general public but we are one of the best known brands in the world of collectors.

FP Journe watchmakers at work

FP Journe watchmaker’s atelier

Francois Paul Journe plush room

The entrance to the FP Journe Manufacture in Geneva

LUX: How many watches would you recommend an individual owned?
Francois Paul Journe: I cannot tell a collector how many timepieces he should own, each collector has a collection that correspond to his taste but also its financial means. If he has only a few watches and he is happy with them, it is fine but he is not really a collector. But it is also fine if a passionate collector owns one models of each available in my collection .

Read next: The silent speed of a Rolls-Royce Wraith 

LUX: What innovation are you most proud of?
Francois Paul Journe: The Tourbillon has been my first fascination of course and the resonance phenomenon has been occupying my mind for years in order to produce my Chronomètre à Résonance with 2 mechanical beating in opposition and auto-regulating each-other. But the watch I am most proud of is certainly the sophisticated Sonnerie Souveraine, the most difficult and most accomplished horological creation never realised and the one that has certainly given me the widest challenge in my career. It means six years of research for the Invenit and 10 patents for the Fecit, over 500 components, 4 month of assembling, adjusting and fine tuning, and this without counting the manufacturing of the components entirely produced in our manufacture in the centre of Geneva.

Operating a chiming watch has always been risky. If you do the slightest thing wrong, like setting the time while the chimes are engaged or ringing, you damage precious mechanisms. My challenge was to create a Grande Sonnerie that was safe to use, and what sets it on a higher plane is that it is the only grand strike clock watch safe to use existing today.

LUX: How do you relax?
Francois Paul Journe: I work a lot and I do not have so much free time. Mostly it is dinner with friends, tasting good food and good wine, and enjoying each other’s company. And Formula 1 racing.

fpjourne.com

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Porsche_911_Turbo_Type_996

By Darius Sanai
Editor in Chief

Like art, fine wine and limited-edition watches, classic cars fall into the category of what luxury analysts call “Investments of Passion” – stuff you can enjoy while its value rises. But, leaving aside the question of potential returns, what motivates investors to buy particular assets?

One reason widely cited for the first boom in contemporary art prices, back in the 1980s, was that the new wealthy wanted to show they had earned their money themselves, and not inherited works, or tastes, from their parents.

A generation later, watch guru Jean-Claude Biver cited the same reasoning to me for the taste for contemporary and uber-complicated mechanical watches.

Fashions in fine wine wax and wane: Bordeaux, the materiel du jour just five years ago, is now as out of style as a hipster moustache.

Classic car dealers are fond of telling you that people collect the cars that featured in their bedroom wall posters when they were kids; thus the recent price rises in the likes of Ferrari Testarossas and Lamborghini Countaches, as Thatcher’s children come into serious money.

That’s true up to a point; the advertising creative directors pootling around in 1960s Porsches 911s were surely not born when their cars were.

As to my own Ferrari Testarossa, this was released to the world in a year (1984) when my bedroom posters featured The Clash and the only redhead I was interested in went to the girl’s school next to mine.

Still, one has to abide by cliché, and having acquired three fantastic Ferraris, it was time to target the dream car from earlier in my boyhood. The Porsche 911 Turbo seemed wonderfully glamorous to a small kid in drab 1979 London: a much-faster version of a car that was then a sports car for aficionados, not the daily transport it has now become.

911 Turbos have been made since 1973, and the challenge for anyone wanting to acquire an old, or rather, classic, one, is the slow discovery they are either very expensive, or slightly rubbish, or both. In my search earlier this year I sat inside numerous slightly musty 30-year-old cars, wondering what I was missing. The test drives were no better: old 911 Turbos had no performance at all til the boost arrived, and then what in 1983 was a warp-speed thump, is, in 2015, the acceleration of a fruitily-driven post-nightclub diesel cab which has been chipped. And for a price tag approaching six figures. Hmm.

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So, logic led me to a much newer Porsche 911 Turbo which I knew was brilliant, because I had reviewed it when it came out, and was also, by the perverse logic of the classic car market, much cheaper. If you imagine the value curve of classic cars over time describing a V-shape, the 996 model range of the 911, produced between 1998 and 2004, is currently near the bottom of the V.

The “996” model was tainted as a whole by the fact that it was the first 911 with a water-cooled (as opposed to air-cooled) engine, an engine which moreover, proved quite fragile.

But a growing clique of aficionados recently started noting publicly that the engine in the 996 Turbo was unrelated to that in its lesser siblings, and was both hugely reliable and had a racing pedigree. Known as the “Mezger” engine after its original designer, Hans Mezger, it was derived from a design for a Porsche Le Mans car, and is starting to become something of a motoring legend.

So – a brilliant Porsche 911 Turbo, at the bottom of its depreciation curve, with a Le Mans engine. A slam dunk.

The next challenge: finding a good one. Unlike Ferraris, Porsches tend to get driven, so Pistonheads was full of ads for cars with 80,000 miles, or “low mileage” ones with 50,000 miles. “Miles are important” was a mantra taught me by one of my car gurus (a man who has made more out of his car collection than most of us will make in several lifetimes). Low mileage on a Ferrari means less than 10,000 miles; on a Porsche, I decided, it means less than 20,000. And it had to be a manual, not a semi-automatic: I am convinced that as manuals are phased out, they will become ever more desirable.

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One day my eye was caught by a very striking newly-advertised car in Basalt Black, with only 17,000 miles, and a host of rather nice factory extras including a carbon-fibre driver zone and Porsche “ruffled leather” seats. It was being sold at a price higher than any other 996 Turbo, by JZM, a renowned specialist in Hertfordshire.

A quick sortie, inspection and drive indicated this was the car. It felt quasi-new, had a full wallet of Official Porsche history, and had plainly lived a pampered life in a garage – even the headlights showed no sign of cloudiness, a hazard of cars living outside. There was a little wriggle room on the price, and Russ Rosenthal, director of JZM, agreed to throw in various bits to make the car absolutely sublime.

One sunny Saturday morning I took the train up to King’s Langley – less glamorous than Barcelona and Rome, where I had bought my previous two Ferraris, but pleasant nonetheless – signed bits of paperwork in JZM’s pristine showroom, and was presented with a very shiny black 2004 Porsche 911 Turbo.

I have driven every recent incarnation of the 911 Turbo extensively, and going back to this model was both a shock and a revelation. What seemed at the time (just over a decade ago) to be an ultra-modern, slick 911 now seems pleasingly old-fashioned. Push it around a fast corner with a bump in the middle, and you are suddenly aware, despite the four-wheel drive, of being in a car for so long known as a ‘widowmaker’ due to its rear-engine exerting extreme centrifugal forces (and spinning the car around).

It’s fast, too – scarily fast at full throttle, full boost acceleration – and unlike the latest models, you can actually feel the road through the steering. It’s an exciting car but with comforts like heated seats, air conditioning and even sat nav.

With perfect timing, 996 Turbo prices have started to rise since I bought mine. I went back to Russ, told him I was writing this for LUX, and asked him for his thoughts. He, in turn, told me that the interest in high-end modern classic Porsches has been a boon for companies like his – they are building new showroom to double the size of their facility – as people invest more money into the best cars. (It’s an old, and true, adage that it’s worth buying the best you can find.)

“There’s a realization that with the latest incarnation of the 911, there’s something that’s basically missing with the more recent cars. There’s a rawness from the 996 Turbo, and as the cars have gotten newer they’ve lost that edge a little bit, they’ve become a little bit softer, a little more refined, they’re not quite as raw and personally, when I jump in a nice manual 996 Turbo now, it just feels edgy and it’s something that’s lost on the later cars. I think there’s a realization, people are starting to understand that.

It applies to the Turbos but also to 911s across the board – with the latest incarnation, there is no low speed fun. I think there’s less feedback, there’s less feeling.”

Couldn’t have put it better myself. Russ says I could already sell my car for 20% more than I bought it; but with both newer and older 911 Turbos costing more, and offering less joy, I am hanging on to it. The 11-year-old me would be delighted.

jzmporsche.com

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