Life Of An Art Dealer
Life Of An Art Dealer
Michelle D'Souza (Art dealer) gives expert video advice on: What makes a great artist stand out from the crowd?; Who is your inspiration?; What is the worst thing about being an art dealer? and more...
Are there busy and quiet periods during the year?
Yes, definitely. Christmas and the summer are definitely quieter periods. Those are the two main quiet periods: August and December/January. Apart from that, it's busy pretty much the whole year.
Do you contact particular buyers when an artwork becomes available?
Yes, of course. I mean, there are certain artists whose work lends themselves to the aesthetic of certain collectors and other artists whose work lends themselves to the aesthetic of other artists --of other collectors, rather. So, you know, you sort of suss out what the collector's looking for and what they relate to and engage with.
Why did you choose to become an art dealer?
I just fell into it, actually. I started working as an art dealer in Japan, and it just happened that I was asked to organize an exhibition for a large company, and then I realized I loved that interaction of dealing between artists and clients who were in a different world, in the business world. I loved bridging that gap between two different kinds of characters, so I really fell into it quite accidentally, in a way.
How does being an art dealer affect family life?
Unfortunately, it doesn't just happen in the country that you're living in, so there is a lot of travel involved if you want to be engaged with the international art world. There's a lot of travel, so if you have kids and a family it's a little harder on the family because you're travelling quite a bit, but there's always a balance to be found, and there's many mothers and fathers who find this balance.
How much travel is involved in being an art dealer?
You could be travelling as much as every month, three or four times. The very minimum you would have to travel is four to six times a year, in order to keep your finger on the pulse. I tend to travel for the art fairs, which is the four best art fairs a year, Basel, Miami, Frise in London, and Armory in New York. And Paris as well - the Feat in Paris - and then we go to the openings of exhibitions of the artists that we work with, especially museum exhibitions. So, you do travel at least. You end up travelling at minimum once, if you're an active art dealer, once a month I'd say.
Are many of your friends artists?
Yes, a lot of my friends are artists, but not working in a gallery. I have friends who are artists outside a gallery.
What makes a great artist stand out from the crowd?
That he is adding something to the history of art.
Who is your inspiration?
There was one person who was very important for me and she's like a mentor. She is an artist in my mothers generation, and she managed to work as an artist with top architects making large scale installations within new builders. She's pretty renowned. Her name is Sheila Hicks, and she very much was my inspirtation when I first started out.
If you could work with any artist, living or dead, who would it be?
I think I would love to have Duchamp. Marcel Duchamp. There was something fabulous that he contributed to the history of art from a very intelligent approach and from a very artistic approach. So, I would say Marcel Duchamp.
What is the worst thing about being an art dealer?
It can be exhausting sometimes because of the travel involved, and also it can be mentally draining sometimes dealing with the mood swings of certain artists.
What is the best thing about being an art dealer?
It's always exciting. You're always meeting new people, you're always getting new situations, and there's always new opportunities opening up. You never get bored, so to speak.
How damaging is a bad review or show to an artist's career?
It can be damaging, but hopefully it's not necessarily a permanent thing and they can somehow recover in the next show. Every artist has bad moments, even Picasso did, so it's very difficult for an artist to sustain a brilliant career throughout his life. You just have to accept that there's going to be certain troughs where they're going to be experimenting and not producing their best works.
What's the most expensive artwork you've ever sold?
We've probably sold something close to the million pound range.
Does your job still excite you?
Yes, very much so, because there's always a new situation presenting itself.