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Vivan Brodie grew up visiting European museums while living in Paris. When she took her first art history class in high school, she was fully hooked. An internship at Christie’s, and the energy in the room on the night of an evening sale, solidified her dream of pursuing a career at the auction house. After a position at Paddle8 as the head of sales, in 2015 she joined Christie’s, where she works on First Open and Online sales. Whitewall spoke with Brodie, a specialist at Christie’s in Post-War & Contemporary Art, about collecting, underrated movements, and the incredible work she gets to see each day.
WHITEWALL: How would you describe the state of online auctions at the moment, and do you foresee a change in the future?
VIVIAN BRODIE: Online auctions are accessible and not intimidating to collectors. I have always found that online sales are a great way to introduce people to collecting, and the ease of bidding online is attractive to a range of people across the globe. I am really looking forward to seeing this area of the marketplace grow over the next few years.
WW: First Open sales include work from established and emerging artists. When acquiring work by emerging artists on the secondary market, what should collectors keep in mind?
VB: When acquiring emerging artists on the secondary market, collectors should do their research. Oftentimes prices between the primary market and the secondary market are drastically different for emerging artists. In some cases, primary prices are higher than secondary prices; and in some cases, vice versa if an artist has an extremely high demand on the primary market. As with all works on the secondary market, I think it is important to develop a relationship with a specialist who will keep you up to date on works that are coming up that might fit into your collection and who can walk you through the provenance, condition, and significance of the artwork within a greater context of the artist’s body of work.
WW: What’s a recent work you’ve seen in person at Christie’s that you found yourself in awe of?
VB: One of the best parts of my job is the fact that I get to spend a lot of time with the amazing objects that come through Christie’s. I am consistently in awe of the works that pass through the building year-round. This past November we had a large-scale Cy Twombly from the “Bacchus” series that Twombly made in 2005, toward the end of his life. Measuring 128 by 194 and a half inches, its scale was not only impressive but it completely engulfed me as a viewer and completely dominated the gallery. This series encompasses 21 works in a variety of sizes, and this canvas represented the largest. There is only one other example done in this size. The red and white strokes across the canvas, which were characteristic of this series, dance over and under one another. I found myself mesmerized by this painting throughout the entire view leading up to the auction.
WW: What’s the next big art movement to watch on the secondary market?
VB: I would definitely say figurative painting. We are seeing very high prices and significant competition between collectors for works by Cecily Brown, George Condo, Philip Guston, Yoshitomo Nara, and Jonas Wood.
WW: What are the underrated or overlooked artists or movements more collectors should be looking at?
VB: This is one of my favorite subjects! Some of my favorite underrated artists in the marketplace include Lee Bontecou, Lee Krasner, Ed Ruscha, Dan Flavin, Carl Andre, and Ed Paschke. I always think Minimalism is underrated and deserves more attention in the marketplace.
WW: What is your advice for young collectors on ways to support and connect with young talent?
VB: For me, collecting young artists is the art world’s greatest pleasure. There is nothing better than getting to know an artist personally and watching their career develop over time. I feel extremely privileged to have met and supported so many talented artists and am always thrilled to speak with them about their work, their practice, their goals, and dreams for the future.
WW: What’s a show you’ve seen recently that you’re still thinking about?
VB: If you haven’t done so yet, it is worth booking a time slot to go see Magazzino in Cold Spring, New York. Magazzino means “warehouse” in Italian and is the collection of Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu, consisting of all Arte Povera artworks. Some of the major highlights include masterpieces by Luciano Fabro, Jannis Kounellis, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Mario Merz, and Marisa Merz. I have been up twice since they opened this past summer and deeply admire the collection for its focus and commitment to bringing Arte Povera to the United States. Following Magazzino, it is a short ten-minute drive to see DIA:Beacon, which is a museum I am constantly thinking about and finding excuses to visit.
This story appears in Whitewall‘s spring 2018 Future Issue.