VALERIE GENTY

Art Consultant

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What advice would you give to women starting in the art world?

Be patient and create a strong personal professional network. Building a career in the art world is a long-term game, both for dealers and for artists. And also for collectors. It is a multifaceted industry, so knowing the major players (be it galleries, institutions, brands, artists or collectors) and understanding their relationship to one another is a must. To navigate the highs and lows, I find that focusing on experiencing the art you love will get you through most things! Most of all, stay centered, enjoy the journey and learn how to turn set backs into opportunities.

David Hockney once said, “It’s good advice to only believe what an artist does rather than what he says about his work.” Would you agree?

I find that some artists are confident and can easily talk about their practice, whilst others find it very challenging to do so.  Either way, the essence of the work is in the doing, not the talking. It is good advice to let the artist inform your understanding of the work, but ultimately one should always believe one’s own experience of the work.  Relating to art is a deeply personal journey, both emotionally and aesthetically. Understanding the artist approach can enhance your experience but cannot define it.

What leads you to look at art, visiting a specific museum or do you go out to see certain artists?

I certainly do go out to see particular artists. My most extravagant enterprise was going to Rome specifically to see an exhibition by the Italian photographer Luigi Ghirri, which was showing at MAXXI, Italian National Museum of 21st Century Arts, a museum I highly recommend.  Mostly, I look at art by visiting galleries and museums in London, and also by attending art fairs. Art Fairs require stamina and a sharp eye but are a great way to browse and to keep abreast of market trends. This year, Art Basel, Basel, auxiliary programme was particularly strong with incredible museum shows organised across the city, such as Francis Bacon and Giacometti at The Foundation Beyeler and Sam Gilliam at the Kunstmuseum.  The work of Sam Gilliam made a lasting impression on me, the historical context of his work is powerful and perhaps more than anything I love the correlation between his monumental yet fluid abstract paintings bursting with colours and energy and the emergence of jazz music… what a vision that is! Other favourite art fairs this year have been the Print Art Fair at the RA in London and Paris Internationale in Paris, both had a strong grouping of exhibitors and led me to acquire exciting and affordable artworks… some by leading contemporary artists. Finding artworks that stimulate me and offer compelling echo of the human condition; be it poetic, dramatic or humorous; and continuously developing my knowledge of artists practice is what leads me. As well as art fairs, artist talks, studio visits and collector events (often organised by galleries) are all great enablers to explore art in good company.  My favourite talk this year was Julie Mehretu in conversation with Thelma Golden at Frieze London… as in many ways, it felt like witnessing a winning piece of history.