Art lovers, here’s one for you: We’re thrilled to present Art Unified on Gilt Home for the first time. What makes it so good? Simple answer: Expertise. This isn’t a corporate conglomerate — it’s a group of folks who are utterly passionate about what they do, and use that passion to fuel their selection. We got more info from one of the company’s directors, Freza Paro, who also dished on everything from collecting advice to the hottest museum exhibitions out there now:
Why did you start the brand? One of our co-founders, Johan Andersson, has been an artist all his life, and has encountered almost every obstacle there is to be had in the art world. Art Unified was created out of his experiences. They’ve lent Art Unified an invaluable understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of both artist and gallery, which helps us better connect with and serve our artists and our art buyers.
You’re passionate about expanding the role of art in people’s everyday lives. Talk about how your company does that. Our goal is to narrow the gap between artists and art lovers, by exposing our artists to new audiences. We want to dispel the notion that the art world needs to be an exclusive one and, instead, aim to redefine what it means to exhibit. This means keeping our eyes and ears alert to the new spaces in which artists and art lovers interact — whether that’s online, at a TED Talk or in a co-working space. Our giclée print collection also addresses the financial barriers to curating a great art collection. Few people have the wherewithal to spend $50,000 on a piece of art, but you don’t need to in order to own a collection that you love.
Talk about your own art background. Johan studied fine art at Central St. Martin’s in London, and has exhibited all around the world. His experience is so dynamic: he’s been the recipient of prestigious awards, like the BP Portrait Award, but has also backpacked around Europe, relying only on ad hoc painting sales to get him from one place to another. The rest of our office comes from diverse creative backgrounds, from graphic design to music to photography. This diversity has afforded us a fresh and holistic perspective on the art world. It has also been instrumental in our relationships with our artists, because we each deeply understand the obstacles facing artists today.
What are 2-3 of your favorite works in our Gilt sale? We obviously love all of the artwork we’ve selected for the Gilt sale, but we are especially excited to be offering pieces by Johan Andersson and Ewan Eason in this sale. Eason’s Mappa Mundi series has recently exploded in popularity, being featured at the Royal Academy and Christie’s. Johan’s work is thought-provoking — an instant conversation piece. These artists were the source of a lot of buzz at SCOPE Miami and the LA Art Show, so we’re excited to see share them with the Gilt community.
What’s your biggest piece of advice for the novice collector? Take the time to develop your taste, and then let that be your compass. Resist the urge to follow the many well-meaning listicles out there on “must-have” pieces. Taste isn’t something that is obtained; it’s achieved through the consistent exercise of your opinions. Nothing delights us more than walking into somebody’s home and meeting an art collection that speaks to their personality. A thoughtfully curated collection is the mark of a confident art collector.
What’s one art-collecting “rule” you think should be broken? It’s not really a rule, but we’re waiting for the current gallery wall trend to retire. It’s a great solution for those who already have an overflow of prints, but the idea of ‘creating’ a gallery wall feels like too acquisitive for us. Take your time, purchase pieces that hold meaning to you, and develop a relationship with them.
Any current or upcoming museum exhibitions we should see? We’ve been going to James Turrell’s Ganzfeld installation at the LACMA almost every week. If you’re in Los Angeles, make a point to visit – you’ll probably run into us. The attendants actually know us so well now, they’ll usually let us stay on for more than one rotation. We’re looking forward to the Light, Paper, Process exhibition at The Getty Center in April and the opening of the Broad Museum in September. 2015 is shaping up to be an exciting year for museum exhibitions. We’re extremely jealous of New York’s Frida Kahlo (New York Botanical Garden), Yoko Ono and Björk (the latter two at the Museum of Modern Art) exhibitions due out this year. We hope to make it out East to visit the Whitney at its new location downtown, and to check out Basquiat’s personal notebooks at the Brooklyn Museum.