If, for a day, we could choose to see the world through anyone’s eyes, it would be Georgina Cohen’s. After all, the Gagosian director is always within viewing distance of the most incredible art, whether she’s hosting a private view, traversing a fair, or spending time at the studios of the many artists she champions.
When Cohen isn’t dealing in art (or spending time with her husband and six-year-old son) she is focused on fashion - an industry in which she has kept one (stylishly clad) foot firmly planted - formerly as Contributing Editor at PORTER Magazine and now as Cultural Director at 3.1 Phillip Lim, alongside other ambassadorial roles. Cohen’s viewpoint is a precious commodity.
As you can imagine, we had a whole host of questions for the fashion maven, art dealer and Mondo muse. Read on for our conversation about art, style and inspiration.
What are you drawn to in a work of art, both personally and professionally?
For me personally it is a feeling that is instinctive, which sometimes can be hard to put into words. I think hearing firsthand from an artist as to what the work is about helps give you a deeper understanding and therefore you have the ability to connect more profoundly. I tend to like to live with more uplifting works, that make me smile, but there is also beauty in the more disruptive works too - like with Jenny Saville, one of the most incredible artists I have ever had the pleasure to work with and Nathaniel Mary Quinn, another of my favourites. They are both on my wish list! Here’s hoping …
What does your role as Director of Gagosian involve?
My role usually involves lots of things across all aspects of the gallery, but it is predominantly focused around helping clients build their collections. I am lucky to call many of my clients friends and these are usually relationships where we learn from each other. I work closely with my colleagues who represent our artists to place works in various public and institutional collections. I travel to fairs, work on Special Projects and Events, you name it! I work on business development and try to think of innovative ways to help expand and expose the gallery to a wider audience through collaborations and partnerships. The day-to-day is never the same and I love that I work in a place where I can continue to learn and grow.
Tell us about your own art collection, what are your favourite pieces?
For me I love to support and collect artists who I have a personal connection with. Two of my closest friends are the artists Annie Morris and Idris Khan, they are married, and they are the dream couple and both incredibly talented. I have several works by each of them and they are among my favourites. Earlier this month, Annie‘s museum show at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, “When a Happy Thing Falls“ opened, and both are playing a big role at Frieze this year. A beautiful bronze by Annie can be viewed as part of The Sculpture Park and the entire Deutsche Bank lounge is an homage to Idris. I am also curating their exhibitions at Château La Coste in Provence next summer which I am looking forward to immensely. Also the artist Joel Mesler, he is like a brother and possibly one of the nicest human beings I have ever met, his career has just skyrocketed, with two incredible exhibitions at David Kordansky and Levy Gorvy. I have a few works of his, another favourite is a diptych of his above my bed entitled “Sunrise / Sunset”, it makes me smile to wake up to this every morning. I have an amazing portrait of Tracey Emin as Frida Khalo by my lovely friend Mary McCartney, which I love - three incredible women in one picture, the same work hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. Damien Hirst is another I love, I have a spin painting of my face that he made me as a gift, he is extremely generous, it was a total surprise and a thank you for something I had done for him, I also have a monochromatic spot in the living room. I have other works by Richard Prince, Christian Marclay, Richard Wright and Jack Pierson.
Georgina's collection at home featuring works by (L-R) Peter Davies, Annie Morris, Christian Marclay and Damien Hirst (in reflection).
You orbit both the fashion and art worlds; what is your style uniform, and does it change depending on which proverbial hat you’re wearing that day?
My uniform is anything by 3.1 Phillip Lim, as their cultural ambassador I love the philosophy of the brand, both Phillip and his business partner Wen are great friends and the collection seems to get stronger with each season . Everything I wear is always accompanied by comfy shoes - a cool trainer - current favourites were a gift from Nike (the new Sacai) or a clog, loving my new Valentino ones - it’s the only way to get through Frieze week! I also can’t not mention the amazing gilets from Mondo if I could list the amount of times I’ve been stopped in the street to ask where mine is from it would be many!
What are your top tips for Frieze week? Must see shows and artists to watch?
There are so many great things and shows to see during Frieze where do I begin …Let’s start with our amazing Gagosian group show “Social Works II” curated by the brilliant Antwuan Sargent - it has received incredible reviews and is a must see! Annie Morris at Tim Taylor is sublime. Stop by Claridge’s newly launched ArtSpace, their inaugural show “Sunshine” by Damien Hirst is playful, exciting and fun! And then why not drop in for a cocktail at their amazing new Painters Bar where you can see a beautiful mural and incredible stained glass work by Annie Morris. Noah Davis at David Zwirner is excellent, as is Mark Rothko‘s mesmerising show at Pace Gallery.