A night out (Art) After Hours.

While it’s understandable if David Dickinson’s fluorescent tan was enough to put you off both daytime television and auction houses for life, you shouldn’t write off the latter just yet. Putting any connotations of stuffiness to bed, Christie’s: First Open event earlier this month opened up (if you will) the world of auctioneering to the masses, providing affordable art, delicious nibbles and stimulating talks to get guests’ creative juices flowing.

Showcasing the likes of Michel Majerus and Claudia Comte, the art on offer was curated with our generation in mind. Guests were invited to muse over art in the digital age and gaze in awe at work created by the impressive force of a woman with a chainsaw: thoroughly modern, Christie’s is shedding the stereotypes that so often attach themselves to the hifalutin world of art dealing.

Keen to show that art as a concept is not limited to oil on canvas masterpieces of the Renaissance, we had a chat with Paola Saracino Fendi, Post-War and Contemporary Art Specialist at Christie’s, to get the low down on the evening’s highlights and which emerging artists we should uncover.

When did you first become interested in art?

I was 18 years old and interning at Centre National des Arts Plastiques working on an exhibition called Monumenta at the Grand Palais. I used to intern at fashion magazines and this was my first time discovering contemporary art. I was working with Anish Kapoor and Christian Boltonski on their installations and found that I was so fascinated with the potential of being a part of creating Art History. I studied Art History throughout my university career and decided I wanted to be part of the textbook that I was reading. Since then, I’ve wanted to learn more about Contemporary Art.

Do you have – maybe a difficult question – but do you have a favourite artist?

Oh yes, very hard!

You can do top three if that’s easier…

I have so many, but in the sale, my absolute favourite is Michel Majerus, which is showcased at the back cover of our catalogue, because I really think he speaks to our generation. He died in 2002, but he was someone who was painting what he was seeing in the media, and during the 90s that was the whole explosion of the World Wide Web. He was a huge proponent of looking past, looking at our historical masters and combining them both with the new. I think that’s something that our generation is looking at [in] art.

More Art After Hours, obviously it’s a celebration of the upcoming auctions, what pieces are you especially excited about in this sense?

I’m really excited about newer names like Claudia Comte and Berta Fischer as well as blue chip artists like César, who’s having an exhibition at Centre Pompidou.

Amazing, and what can you tell me about the specialists who are speaking tonight?

We have a range of specialists from every single auction that’s taking place. Alma Davidsohn, who works with me on First Open, is discussing art reflecting the digital age in a talk entitled “Reality Bites”, a really fun play on words and it’s also the name of a famous exhibition by Michel Majerus had. There is also Victoria Gramm speaking, who is taking care of our online sale called “On Paper”, all on view right now with prices from £100 and up, so very affordable. She will be discussing the smoke and mirrors and how photographers stage the scenes they photograph. We then have James Baskerville and Murray Macaulay, who are talking about prints and multiples.
At Christie’s, we want to appeal to all – so we also have Lily Hirasawa, a Japanese chef, talking about the art of mindful eating and this new trend of kimchi and fermented foods. We also have a fashion pop up store by Kitri and Richard Braqo. We want to show that Christie’s is an approachable place, open to all who are looking to celebrate the creative culture that is here in London – no matter the age.

You’ve just touched on it, but obviously, with all of the food and music and fashion pop-ups, they’re all forms of art in some way. Do you think it’s important to bring different types of art together?

Absolutely, as an example fashion designers are looking towards art for inspiration and collaboration. If you look at recent runway shows you can see Stella McCartney being inspired by the paintings of George Stubbs. An event like First Open’s Art After Hours is the perfect opportunity to combine all forms of art, which showcases and helps our audience explore the various forms of what art is and can be.

For sure, and are there any up and coming artists that you’re really excited about at the moment?

Yes, there’s quite a few. There’s Amy Sillman, who’s having a show with Gladstone Gallery at the beginning of next year that I’m really excited for. Victor Man is a Romanian artist who produces very detailed paintings in a small format, I think they’re fascinating, and he’s one to watch.

Amazing. And lastly, what’s the next big project you’re working on?

I am working with the Christie’s Impressionist and Modern department on an online sale entitled Art As Jewellery, which is very exciting.


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