AWITA

SPOTLIGHT - GIOVANNA BERTAZZONI

GIOVANNA BERTAZZONI

Co-Chairman of Impressionist & Modern Art Department, Christie's

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Tell us about a woman, well-known or not whom you admire and why. 

Since I was in my twenties, a woman who has always inspired me is Simone de Beauvoir. Her autobiography, in various chapters and different novels, has always been a reference for me. She is a pioneer, a lucid feminist voice, an intellectual who lived her professional and personal life constantly challenging her peers’ assumptions and society’s limitations.More than anything, she advocated very early that a woman should be financially independent - to be heard, to be confident, to be fully engaged with herself. And I fully agree with this.

Which 3 qualities do you think one must have to succeed?  

I believe to succeed in the art world, one needs: energy, resilience and intellectual curiosity. Energy is essential: one is constantly travelling, running to meetings, changing cities and cultures, injecting dynamism into teams, pushing to close deals. It is absolutely fundamental to always be hungry, to be excited to jump on a plane at a minute’s notice, to never tire of exhibitions, openings, fairs, opportunities to discover new art. Energy means also ‘social energy’: the eagerness to meet and get to know people, to hear their stories, their passions, and be happy to share our own, to be open and receptive.Resilience is fundamental to accept the inevitable set-backs that come with such an intense profession. One has to be balanced, and have a strong sense of self - of one’s limits and ambitions, simultaneously. Especially as a woman in such a man’s world, resilience is needed to gain perspective, to live a career as a marathon and not a sprint, constantly fighting back , never giving up.Intellectual curiosity is the engine that keeps us going. The feeling of never knowing it all, to be constantly learning, to represent one culture amongst million, to be eager to learn about the other million... this feeling is what still motivates me at 50, after 26 years in the art world.

Which female artist, living or dead, would you invite to a fantasy dinner party and why? 

The female artist I would like to invite to a fantasy dinner party is Berthe Morisot, the most important female artist in the Impressionist group. A woman of incredible charm and complexity, a very accomplished artist, an intellectual with the sharpest mind, who had to fight the conventions of the milieu she grew up in, in fin de siecle Paris. She was the closest friend of Degas, the model of Manet, the wife of Manet’s brother: she moved in this world of men as a confident, independent artist, developing her own style, pushing boundaries, depicting her women friends and herself as they struggled to find a balance between breaking all connections with society, and still belonging to the bourgeoisie. And she remained true to herself - as the wonderful portraits of Manet reveal, catching a woman full of contradictions, perplexities and ambitions.