Cultured Magazine

February/March 2016

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100 CULTURED COURTESY BENRUBI GALLERY "My heart is breaking into a thousand pieces," says Emily Havens as she gets lost in the cool beauty of Paula Cooper's Tauba Auerbach show. "It's a great combination of meticulous traditional pieces and the use of technology. Completely seamless." With her iPhone 6 Plus in her grip (complete with teal blue nail polish that matches the Pantone of her phone case), Havens is referring to the stand-out, architectural 3-D printed sculptures in an immersive installation, filled with large-scale paintings, borosilicate helixes and the glossiest tables ever made. The Brooklyn-based, Boston-raised art advisor of 15 years is a breath of fresh air in the often standoffish art world. With a laid-back vibe and Chuck Taylors on her feet, she serves candor straight up. When discussing "post- Internet" and "digital art," she admits, "The terms make me cringe. When I think of artists using New Media—screens, the Internet, animations, projection mapping, etc.—it's more about making effective work than defining their practice in a box. Essentially, digital elements are just another tool. Artists have access to mediums today that didn't exist in the past. It is no different than how photographers use cameras with newer features and technology as they're manufactured. My real interest is the end product." Artists with "smart, successful, beautiful" end products and a digital bent, in her view, include: Amalia Ulman ("her Instagram performance, called Excellences & Perfections, turned into large, gorgeous photos"); Jon Rafman (his Google Map series is among her favorites); Tokyo-based teamLab ("their psychedelic technotronic environments made me literally trip over the bench at Pace, I was so mesmerized," she says of their 2014 show); and Tabor Robak ("the detailed videos are like moving paintings but with coding as intense to create as a traditional masterpiece"), amongst others. Havens was reared in the art world. Her mother is a traditional figurative oil painter. Her great-uncle was an influential art historian as well as the second director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, where he worked from the '30s through the '50s. Growing up, her bedroom was bedecked in Irving Penn and Mapplethorpe images alongside Madonna and Top Gun posters. And she ran a photography gallery in Boston by the time she was 21. In our age—which is something of a new Renaissance with the rise of ultra-technologies and seemingly no boundaries—Havens has a keen understanding of the most modern form of contemporary art, but builds expansive, timeless collections for her clients, a mix of burgeoning and long- standing collectors as well as corporations. "I'm very lucky that my clients really love what they buy. They're not driven by the market but what moves them," she says. Many of her clients have tapped her to find the esoteric outside of the typical art realm. She has placed work that spans the spectrum, from Andy Warhol, Robert Longo, Robert Rauschenberg and Pierre Huyghe to Sara Cwynar, the Tobias brothers, Alex Prager, Marilyn Minter and Dan Colen. At the moment, she is watching a new artist, Carolyn Janssen, whose work she first saw at the new media exhibit "Glitch Cult" at Essex Flowers in January. After sharing a detail shot of an intricate digital collage on Instagram, she and the artist became "friends," thanks to DM (direct message). Instagram has become the platform where Havens showcases her sensibility as well as the latest openings, something she documents in real time. "It provides immediate access to art from all over the world, a great way to visually introduce art to people as well as serving as a home for curation, discoveries and expression." She drifts into a meditative Insta-state, sharpening and brightening a meticulous Auerbach pic she snapped—a close-up of a creamy pastel gradient table, the stunning reflection of the ceiling windows and a glass sculpture on a very Auerbach-like diagonal. #projectiveinstrument (the name of the show and its hashtag) is "so so so so so so good," she captions, searching for the emoji of the broken heart. With a swipe, she shares. Now that's art, digital or not. A r t b r e a k H o t e l Curator Emily Havens loves art so much it hurts. BY KAREN ROBINOVITZ PORTRAIT BY TYLOR HÓU Emily Havens, styled by Pari Ehsan, at the Benrubi Gallery in New York City.

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