Rebecca Heidenberg runs her own art advisory company. She works as a go-between with busy art dealers and collectors in search of guidance when it comes to building their collections. I spoke with Rebecca about her website rhartadvisory.com and the current state of the contemporary art world.
“I agree that the art world can definitely be intimidating to many people … As an advisor, my responsibility is to work with clients to give them access to information that will break down those barriers…”
MICHAEL: Hello Rebecca ... We're beginning our chat as you're kicking off a brand new art advisory enterprise. What exactly is it and what do you hope to achieve?
REBECCA: Through my art advisory company, I offer in depth advice to collectors seeking to start or expand their art collection. Having grown up the daughter of an art dealer and then working as a gallerist and advisor for more than a decade, I offer clients insight into the vast and complex world of collecting.
I provide direct access to works from emerging artists, arrange studio visits and work together with my clients to insure that they make informed decisions about their acquisitions. To source works from more established artists and from the secondary market, I work with my vast network of dealers and private clients to source contemporary and modern masterworks using my expertise to evaluate authenticity, condition and value of artworks. I also am available to assist clients in reselling works on the secondary market. Finally, I am working on developing detailed profiles of a selection of New York artists on my website to introduce their work to a broader audience. Works from these artists will also be available for sale online. My goal is to share my love of art and understanding of its cultural significance with clients, making the process of collecting educational and rewarding.
MICHAEL: Many people are either intimidated by contemporary art or they're suspicious of it. I suppose not everyone is going to love art like we do, but do you see yourself actually creating collectors given some notions about art?
REBECCA: I agree that the art world can definitely be intimidating to many people for several reasons. One reason is that the environment of galleries can sometimes feel elitist and exclusive. As an advisor, my responsibility is to work with clients to give them access to information that will break down those barriers. Gallerists are often very busy and have a huge range of responsibilities so they don't always have the time to sit down with prospective clients and delve into longer discussions. As an advisor, I do my research so that clients can talk to me and have those important longer conversations. Also, I happen to love working with new collectors and I make sure they know that I am happy to take the necessary time to expose them to a lot of different work, explain the process and answer their questions. The art market and the high prices can create suspicions, often rightly so, especially at higher levels. I've worked with clients to build multi-million dollar collections from scratch and the most important factor with these acquisitions is building trust through providing the client with clear, good information so that they can understand the monetary value of a particular work and feel confident in making a large investment.
MICHAEL: What's your first memory of art? When did it become a passion for you? I mean, you could have done something else despite having an art background.
REBECCA: My first memory of art is sitting next to a bronze sculpture of a woman by Fernando Botero when I was probably around three years old. It was about the same size as me at the time and I remember sitting in front of it and touching it all over, examining all of her details with my fingers. I think I really fell in love with art when I saw the room of Rothko paintings at Tate Modern in London. It was almost a religious experience for me. After that, I wanted to see every exhibition, read everything written about art. It was, and still is, an utter fascination and a way to understand the world for me. It's a language.
MICHAEL: Isn't it interesting that millions of people throughout history have been fascinated by something they don't "need"? We need air, food and water, but do we need art?
REBECCA: Well, we don't need art to survive in the way that we need air, food and water, but I think making and viewing and discussing art is a very natural part of being human; it's about expression at its core. And I think there are things that we want to express sometimes that can't be expressed through quotidian language, that need to be formed somehow and so we make art and through sharing that art, we facilitate communication and I think we can understand each other better through it, understand ourselves better too.
MICHAEL: Finally Rebecca, Any thoughts about where contemporary art is headed and what do you plan to be doing in the future?
REBECCA: It's hard to say where contemporary art is headed. I think it is going to become more fractured. As more people enter the market with different goals, we're going to see various models for sales that cater toward different segments of the market. I also see a growing focus on digital art, finally, which is so relevant to our global culture. Phillips has had two auctions now focusing on this sector, though much of the work they are selling is digitally produced, but the work itself is not presented in a digital format.
I'm actually working with a few partners in Berlin on producing a website which will streamline and standardize the collection of new media art. I think this is going to be a big part of my future alongside continuing to work with clients on building art collections.
MICHAEL: Best wishes with your ventures. Thanks Rebecca.
REBECCA: Thanks again!
Check out Rebecca Heidenberg’s site at rhartadvisory.com.