Cultured Magazine

Summer 2014

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102 CULTURED "The art world is a very, very special place," Amy Cappellazzo told me on a blustery spring afternoon at Cookshop, the de facto can- teen of the Chelsea gallery district. Cappellazzo had just come from a meeting at David Zwirner's 20th Street gallery, where she had also taken in half of his new exhibition, "No Problem: Cologne/New York, 1984-1989," a rollicking show full of heavy hitters (Kelley, Koons, Kippen- berger) that explores a genuinely interesting mo- ment in contemporary art history but that is also a very clever act of art marketing. Exactly the kind of show that would appeal to Cappellazzo, who until recently was the chairman of postwar and contemporary development at Christie's, on all levels. "It's a really fragile eco system," she continued. "I'm a good green citizen of the art world. I don't like it when people screw with the balance of things. But you can't do anything to protect it; you can just not piss in it yourself." At the end of last year, Cappellazzo seemed poised to upset that balance of things when she announced that she would be leaving her long- time position at Christie's to strike out on her own. Such a move was not exceptional in itself. In the art world, alliances between artists and galleries and collectors and dealers and muse- ums and auction houses are in constant shift. What is noteworthy, is the fact that Capellazzo, who has been described as a radical thinker by Marc Porter, who hired her at Christie's more than a decade ago, is recasting herself as a sort of super agent who will offer her services to all of these competing art world factions, whose in- terests often appear to be, to the civilian eye at least, diametrically opposed. This problem of perception does not bother Cappellazzo in the least. "Anything in life that is worth doing has a conflict of interest," she in- sisted. "If there is no conflict of interest than there is not enough at stake. The art world is moving into real-time mode. If you are offered something terrifically good you have about 48 hours maximum to make up your mind—and that would be generous. So you have to be very nim- ble and ready to act." Art Agency, Partners as her new endeavor is called, is pioneering an area that can best be de- scribed as a shade of gray that would make Agnes Martin smile. Its Madison Square Park lo- cation is intentionally neither financial world nor art world. But there is good lunch to be had. "By conscious effort it's in a part of town that is easy to get to and that people enjoy going to," Cap- pellazzo said, adding, "And I wanted to be near Eataly. I know that sounds crazy. The older I get the more the little things matter. Peculiarities come into play. Stopping at Eataly on the way home from work and picking up some really good tomatoes and cheese would probably change my life materially. I believe that." The S in Art Agency, Partners, is the art ad- visor Allan Schwartzman, well known as the eye for collectors like Howard Rachofsky and Marieluise Hessel. Beyond being good friends, he and Cappellazzo make what promises to be a formidable match. "Allan is probably the single greatest collection builder I know and that in- cludes most curators at museums," Cappellazzo explained. "On the flip side, I have a lot of clients—older clients who are just in that station of life—I advise on the disposing of collections." If that comment speaks to the very things many people find most distasteful about the cur- rent art world climate—the increasing asset mentality, the glut of art fairs—Cappellazzo re- mains unfazed. She acknowledges that there is more activity and more demand but she won't go so far as to call it a hazard. "It just changes things," she said. "It's a beautiful market. It's a beautiful wonderful thing that people can make things and there is a market for them." From her perspective, to understand how a work moves as an asset through the world is just another way to know it. She might go so far as to say that to know an artwork's monetary value is to love it. But that's not to say you can't turn around and sell it the next day. "I think people get very at- tached to the things they love but how many things do you really love?" she asked. In the end, who is she to judge whether her clients are passionate about art or not. People buy art for different reasons—not all of them good. "I prefer to work with people who love art," Cappellazzo said. "But I try not to make value judgments. How do you love your wife? How do you love your kids? It's not any of my business." She zipped up her jacket and prepared to head out into the wind and the rain. "The market is like the weather," she said. "It's really stupid to complain or argue about it. You just better know how to navigate it." NEW VENTURE After 13 years at the helm of Christie's, art world powerhouse Amy Cappellazzo gets ready for her next phase with Art Agency, Partners. She talks to Alix Browne about diving in head-first. PORTRAIT BY FRANÇOIS DISCHINGER PRODUCED BY MICHAEL REYNOLDS

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