Want to learn more about art but not sure where to start? Feeling intimidated by art school? Think you’re not even the “type” (if there is such a thing) of a person who can go to art school? Think again! A new initiative called Art Fix is on a mission to make contemporary art accessible and exciting for all through an online art course! Created with the intention of helping friends (and friends of friends) understand contemporary art and form their own opinions of the art world, Art Fix is an episode-based online learning platform that is committed to demystifying the world of contemporary art. Focused on the stories surrounding art works, Art Fix shares the secrets of not just contemporary art, but the art market too! Headed up by a group of power-house women, we spoke to Art Fix’s Yvette van Caldenborgh and Ingrid Heideman to learn all about their mission to make the art world a whole lot more accessible!
How did the idea for Art Fix come about?
Our story began when we met 20 years ago through our mutual interest in contemporary art, a world which, unlike today, was pretty reserved for die-hard art lovers. From this shared love for art grew a special friendship, one which took us to several corners of the globe to experience art together. But of course – like most things – art is better when shared. And so grew our desire to build an online destination for contemporary art education, for our friends and for friends of friends (and friends of those friends). What we try to do is bring the art world to life and break down the fundamentals in a cool and interesting way, so our community can formulate their own opinion on artworks, artists, galleries and museums, just like we were able to do 20 years ago. If Netflix Explained can break down thousands of years of human civilization in one episode, why can’t we do the same for the world of contemporary art?
Why do you think it’s important to educate people about the contemporary art world?
We think it’s important that everyone can formulate her or his own opinion about contemporary art, without the art-snobbism that often comes with traditional art courses. People often talk about getting a seat at the table, but with Art Fix we’re building a new table: a platform where you don’t have to have ANY prior experience in contemporary art to become a student of the space. With Art Fix you get to enjoy the educational journey anywhere at any time. Because it’s 100% online, you can learn at your own pace in a safe space. We’re here to democratise the way contemporary art is understood, discussed, and experienced.
How do you feel about the increasing digitisation of the art world?
First thing’s first: we love the space of digital art. We love experiencing it AND featuring it in our episodes. For the experimental side of it, our visits to teamLab in Japan and Artechouse in D.C. and Miami have been some of our best art trips. And it’s coming very close to home: last weekend, Nxt Museum, the first Dutch Digital Art museum, opened its doors in Amsterdam. Regarding our Art Fix course, we dedicated a whole episode to it! The third episode is called the Virtual as Reality, and focuses totally on this form of digital art, specifically called New Media art.
Digitisation of the art world, however, is something different. While Zoom calls make our lives a lot easier and our team’s productivity is through the roof, it becomes limiting when it comes to capturing the true art experience. There’s something about the feeling a work gives you – perhaps because of the way it smells or sounds – that isn’t ever going to be brought across on an iPhone screen. The way we react to art in the physical realm can be entirely different than the digital experience, which is why we put so much emphasis on releasing In-Real-Life (IRL) tip lists, featuring the latest and hottest exhibitions, fairs, and museums in different cities and areas. In sum, digitisation is a complimentary channel, but can never supplement the real physical sensation of seeing art IRL.
Which female artists should we have on our radars?
Start following them on Instagram or check out these ladies, because they’re here to stay:
- Njideka Akunyili Crosby: An incredible Black artist with an expertise in creating intimate portraits. Check out the wallpaper in her work.
- Liza Lou: Who needs the mother of dragons when you can have the mother of beads? Known for her full-scale sculpture of a kitchen made of 30 million beads.
- Bisa Butler: The world’s most talented quilt artist, all hand woven!
- Alicja Kwade: A German sculptor who focuses on the subjectivity of time and space, note the repetition in her works!
- Jordan Casteel: The woman who is lifting up the Black community of contemporary artists in the United States.
- Toyin Ojih Odutola: A legendary artist who is able to make her subject’s skin dance with the use of only basic drawing materials, such as ballpoint pens, pencils, pastels and charcoal.
- Shilpa Gupta: A contemporary Indian artist who is bringing silenced poets back to life. You’ll love her text-based installations and sculptures.
- Esther Tielemans: Need a little colour in your life? This Dutch artist focuses on opposites: flat and 3D, abstract and figurative, and reality and illusion.
- Sadie Clayton: A beautiful talent with a pink afro who specializes in copper sculptures and art created by artificial intelligence.
- Bodil Ouedraogo: An up-and-coming Dutch talent merging fashion and art and focussing on the collision of the two.
- Genesis Belanger: A wonderful still-life sculptor who takes everyday objects and sculpts them in porcelain and concrete. The best combo of beautiful and strange!
While these are all more up-and-coming artists, at Art Fix we don’t discriminate by age. We also LOVE the more-esteemed older talents, like Marina Abramovic, Jenny Holzer and Judy Chicago. Their work is still very relevant and not to be dismissed.
Who are your art world sheroes?
The list is too long, but if we REALLY have to boil it down, these are the ones that really wear the capes:
- Peggy Guggenheim (Collector): Not that “contemporary” if you consider she was born in 1898, but an absolute Art Fix “sheroe”. When most women were cooking and living their Mad-Men existence, she was providing a stage for avant-garde artists like Frank Stella and Alexander Calder. We love a woman whose taste is ahead of her time: even the Louvre did not recognize the worth of her collection and refused to house it during WWII!
- Magda Danysz (Parisian Gallerist): This dazzling French curator and gallerist makes our list because of her ability to spot the diamonds in the rough – think JR, Vhils, and Erwin Olaf. If you’ve ever worn a piece of OBEY clothing, you can trace it back to her: Danysz brought Shepard Fairey to the art scene, who founded OBEY and imagined the logo.
- Miety Heiden (Head of Private Sales Phillips): Truly a woman of today, building up an auction house that is 2020-proof: something that can be different from the other major players with a tighter, more contemporary focus.
- Katy Hessel (The Great Women Artists): You already know we eat, breathe, and sleep female artists and Katy Hessel is a true aficionado of this field. People often say that we can make big changes with small steps, and Katy has had a dedicated Instagram account that celebrates women artists on a daily basis since October 2015.
- Yana Peel: Formerly the CEO of Serpentine Galleries, this badass lady has always lived by the mission to create a safe space for unsafe ideas. We love her mission-oriented mindset, which she’s carried into her work at Chanel.
- Ashley Stewart (Director, Gagosian Gallery International): We love how she makes the art world think twice about not just what they’re collecting, but also WHY they love what they love or they buy what they buy. “Recently, I have witnessed a surge of collectors wanting to add African-American artists to their collections, but I think it’s important to ask them why,” she says, and that’s the exact anti-herd mentality that we love to see.
What advice would you give to young women looking to make a career in the art world?
Just do it, even if it feels like way more than an activity that can be preceded with a “just”. Working in the art world is never dull, neither a 9-5 job nor mentality, and the content is so interesting that art will start running through your veins, staying with you for a lifetime…. And perhaps even becoming rather addicting.
What are your plans for the future?
Ah, the future. While the inability of long-term planning seems to be the only certainty right now and we’re aware we’re going to have to adapt to whatever is coming, there are a few things which remain our guiding north stars. One of our missions at Art Fix is to shine a spotlight on female art. To clarify: when we say female art we don’t necessarily mean females being portrayed in art, rather art created by females. We tell the stories of the women holding the paintbrushes, the ladies sculpting the figures, and the females behind the lens. There can be a false sense of feminism in the art world due to the inclusion of women as subjects, but actually the gap exists when you look at the creator of the works. This is something that we’re striving to change, even if it’s just a little bit with our 30 minute episodes.
Art Fix will be a success when the whole world has gotten a taste of contemporary art! Okay, we know this may take a long time, and we’ve always been told to measure our success in increments: our mission is that our members of Art Fix become not just viewers of the episodes, but start to form a community of art lovers who share their favourite pieces, galleries, artists, and perhaps even the best place to grab a coffee on one’s art journey. So if you’re looking for which oat latte to combine with your Kehinde Wiley visit, we’re your girls! Catch you behind the screen.
Interview by Lizzy Vartanian