In the past ten years, many changes have taken place in the Russian-born philanthropist, collector and entrepreneur Dasha Zhukova. In the past two years alone, she has celebrated her wedding (with the Greek shipping heir Stavros Nialkos), the birth of her third child and her 40th birthday. She spent more time in New York, she lived in the Upper East Side, and amid all the changes in her personal life, she also entered the next stage of her journey as a public figure. She transformed her garage contemporary cultural center into a mature museum. She founded a magazine-also called Garage-she sold it to Vice Media, and then was re-acquired. She brought her generosity and expertise to the boards of some of the world's largest art institutions. She has embarked on a forward-looking art and real estate career. All along, she continued to build her reputation as a powerful art collector with her own strength.
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Being busy is nothing new to her. When I first interviewed Zhukova 10 years ago, she recently co-founded the Garage Center (renamed Garage Museum of Contemporary Art three years later) with her partner Roman Abramovich at the time, and in 2017 Nian parted ways with the latter. A set of paintings by Mark Rothko worth 150 million US dollars have been exhibited in Garage, and is preparing for the exhibition of works by performing arts star Marina Abramović. She joined the board of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and helped director Michael Govin obtain a loan from the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. She invested in the Artsy website, an art start-up company; she was the editor of the British fashion magazine "Pop"; she is preparing to move the garage to a more central location in Moscow, in Gorky Park. Collecting millions of dollars worth of masterpieces by Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, Zhukova quickly became, as I wrote at the time, “not only a new Russian Symbol, it recently wants to invest billions of dollars in cultural undertakings, and it is a symbol of purchasing power. Emerging markets are common."
During Oscars week in 2011, Zhukova and I were talking about salad in the Polo Lounge of the Beverly Hills Hotel, not far from Steve Martin's table. (Zhukova was born in Russia, but spent part of her childhood in Los Angeles) This time, we chatted through Zoom. The environment has changed, but Zhukova's increased self-confidence and self-confidence has changed even more. She is no longer a symbol of anything, but herself.
When it comes to the garage, Zhukova is most excited. When asked when she realized that she had an impact on this institution, which was the first such institution in Russia, she joked that when it became the subject of clues about danger! (Answer: "The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art has begun to revive this Moscow park." Question: "What is Gorky Park?") But she said, seriously, the main measure is the reaction of visitors. In 2011, she talked about making the institution “more democratic...for people who don’t understand art”; she kept that promise, and then some. Zhukova said that Garage, who turns 13 this year, is "transforming into an increasingly complex organism." There is a comprehensive educational program, Russia's first public library dedicated to contemporary art, and a huge archive of art from past dynasties, as well as research and publishing programs built around it. Different types of films and performing arts have become an integral part of Garage products.
"We have also established a new method of private support," Zhukova said. She said that through a private sponsorship program, Garage now has "a community of more than 80 customers." And, most importantly, it has launched an endowment fund to distinguish enduring private museums (such as the Broad Museum in Los Angeles) from museums that may go bankrupt after the founder's death. "This is a traditional restoration of Russian private support for important social institutions," Zhukova said. "I hope this paves the way for our future, and Garage will become an independent institution and will exist independently." Kate Fowle, chief curator of the garage for six years, left in 2019, The MoMA PS1, an affiliate in charge of the Museum of Modern Art in New York—the departure is a loss, but it also adds a feather to Zhukova’s hat: she handed someone over to the most famous modern art institution in the world.
Fore said that as the leader of the museum, Zhukova brought inspiring curiosity and led with an open mind. "She is always curious," her former director said. "She always wants to know more. She leads by talking to people. She never suddenly makes an absolute decision. She looks forward to cooperation. She spends a lot of time listening."
Over the past two decades, top collectors have opened private museums all over the world at a rapid rate, most of which are essentially displays of collectors’ collections. The garage is different. Foer said that Zhukova is “interested in how to develop today’s system. This does not mean just opening a place to showcase her collection. She has been working on projects that do not necessarily produce final products that may be artworks. Provide resources. She has been pushing research [and] to lay a stronger foundation for how she can actually support artists and art rather than just collecting. She is considering the need to create favorable venues for all kinds of artists, whether it's theater, architecture or art ."
In recent years, the characteristic of Garage is that, as the Russian curator Viktor Misiano has observed, it has the ability to truly "localize globally". While bringing global art to Moscow, it supports local and regional organizations through grants and programs, and has taken the lead in promoting the "Four Museums" program, which is Garage and Moscow’s other three leading art institutions, the State Tretyakov Fine Arts The groundbreaking cooperation between the museum and the Pushkin State Museum. GES-2 of Fine Arts and VAC Foundation. Zhukova said that Garage is committed to solving problems such as "How do we measure our responsibility as a community agency?"
Most of Zhukova and Garage's work is about place making, through collaborations with famous architects such as Rem Koolhaas and Shigeru Ban who designed the Gorky Park Building. About five years ago, she began to think about the fact that for most people, their only interaction with art occurred within a very organized museum, and wondered what it might mean to bring this experience—" Beauty, joy or meaning [of] art"-into daily life. "I started thinking about creating conditions for a wider audience and what it might mean to engage in personal interaction. I carefully thought about how people spend their time socially, professionally, and personally. Around co-working and office spaces, digital communities, there are A lot of entrepreneurial spirit. I just noticed that few people pay attention to [giving] residential space."
Therefore, her newest company Ray was born, a real estate development company focused on providing cultural programs in residential buildings. "We started with thoughtful construction," Zhukova said. "We consider how the design supports the experience, and what unique possibilities may be brought about by the intervention of external artists on the facade, perhaps a carefully planned art plan in the interior space."
The 53-year-old Harlem National Black Theater will reopen in a 21-story building on 125th Street in 2024. This is a collaboration between Ray and another development company and theater director Thad Leskert Part of the project and the daughter of its founder. Lythcott told the Wall Street Journal, “From the time Dasha and I met for the first time in 2019, this project and partnership felt [like] kismet, not around aesthetics or Ray’s business model, but around our mother. What does it mean to be a woman raised by a fearless matriarch.” (Zhukova is a molecular biologist.) Another building where Ray works in Philadelphia will exhibit an installation by Rashid Johnson. One of the huge ceramic tile works of 2019 is Zhukova's personal collection. Another project is the up-and-coming Little River community in Miami, where Ray will collaborate with the artist-in-residence organization, Outlite Arts, to provide space for artists in buildings there.
"When you design and build a space, Ray really revolves around what it means to have art as a core value," Zhukova said. "Hopefully we are creating a new model for traditional industries and thinking about how they can affect people's lives by integrating art and culture into the daily environment."
For Zhukova, Ray's vision is reminiscent of what she started with Garage. When she announced Ray last spring, she told the Wall Street Journal that she noticed that visitors to her museum would keep coming back, even if they had already seen everything. She told me she felt the same way herself. "I don't want to leave the garage," she said. "I have used up everything I had to do that day, and I will make up for what I have to do. I found that the proximity to art and that kind of energy are really very, very compelling."
As a collector with a wide range of sensibility, she often calls it weird, Zhukova has never been far away from art. In her own residential space—in addition to New York, she also has houses in Moscow and Connecticut—she lives in the company of everything from the figurative paintings of Mark Tensey to the abstract paintings of Piet Mondrian. From Urs Fischer’s animal-shaped bronze sculptures to René Magritte’s surrealist breast paintings; from one of James Turrell’s immersive lighting installations to paintings by Peter Doig and Anselm Kiefer.
LACMA Director Michael Gowan said that Zhu Kova was “immersed in modernist idioms. She has a classical feel for great modern art, but she is also very open. She is not dogmatic.”
She is not a speculator either. "There is a school in the art world that focuses on investment and speculation," Zhukova said. "But for me, this has never been the main reason for collecting art." What she is looking for is not investment value, but a certain degree of complexity. -A quality in artwork that can reward repeated viewing. “Coexistence with art is a multi-layered experience,” she said. “Sometimes, after living and watching a work every day for a year, I will notice something new. I prefer to go over time Art that moves and opens up, or art that poses a certain challenge."
The two large paintings in her collection especially meet this requirement. Paula Rego's 7-foot-tall The Policeman's Daughter (1987) was once the collection of Rego champion Charles Saatchi. It depicts a strong image of a young woman vigorously polishing her black boots. "I think it's too bold," Zhukova said of Rego's work. "Always a very strong woman. [However,] has a certain softness and strength." In David Hockney's 12-foot-wide Beverly Hills Housewives (1966-67), a lady stood by the equipment On the terrace of the fully equipped modernist house, staring into the distance, asks a question: What might she be thinking?
Hockney portrays another accomplished female art collector and philanthropist Betty Freeman. Unlike Zhukova herself, she is a strong supporter of contemporary art that pushes boundaries-in Freeman In the example, avant-garde music composers such as Philip Glass, Lamont Young and John Cage. After the painting was completed, Freeman bought the painting from Hockney until his death in 2009. Hockney's California painting sold for $90.3 million.
The works of female artists make up a large part of Zhukova's collection, but gender is not a major factor for her. "I have a large number of female artists in my collection, but it was not a deliberate decision," she said of the collection including Natalia Goncharova's hot 1912 paintings, the huge bronze Louise Bourgeois spider, and recent works by Jenny . Saville, Bunny Rogers, Sarah Crowner, Cindy Sherman, Taryn Simon, etc. "This is pure instinct. My approach is natural and casual-I don't think art is a competitive sport. This is not my personality. I might miss a performance or an expo. I want to interact with those that touch me Living together with the works made me feel amazed and balanced."
One way she learns about new artists is through artists she already has in her collection, such as Los Angeles painter Jonas Wood. "I like to see what he is doing and what he is collecting," she said of the studio she frequented. "You walk into the studio, and there are all other art works on the walls—artists he is following and collecting. I left the studio and I searched for these names on Google, because half of the time I never heard of them. She also got inspiration from Takashi Murakami, who is an outstanding collector of traditional Japanese ceramics and other art forms. "I like to immerse myself in another world, not only by watching their work, but also by really understanding their environment and interests."
Zhukova's interest in modernism extends to design. She owns works like Pierre Paulin’s Élysée Bookcase, a modular unit he created for the residence of French President Georges Pompidou in Élysée Palace in 1972, and a 1977 The bronze and glass extension table marks his rare move into the furniture world by French sculptor Caesar. Suzanne Demisch, a design trader at New York gallery Demisch Danant, said that Zhukova “acquired them before they became known and popular - she was a visionary.”
Thinking about the future has greatly benefited Zhu Kewa from the boards of existing and emerging institutions. She has been a member of the LACMA board of directors since 2009 and a member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art since 2016. She became the founding board member of The Shed in 2017, two years before the opening of the New York arts and performance venue in Hudson Yards .
"What I want to say about Dasha, what you traditionally think of the board of directors is not always the case, she is very forward-looking," said Alex Putz, the director of the shed. "She won't take that formulaic method,'Well, this is the method that worked in the past-let's copy it now.' She has a gradual approach."
Although the scale is different, Putz compared Zhukova's donation style with the style of Amazon's Jeff Bezos' ex-wife Mackenzie Scott. The New York Times called Scott’s philanthropy “very unconventional.” Although she donated a large amount of growing wealth—nearly 9 billion U.S. dollars in the past two years—she did not do so through traditional channels, such as a staff member. Research funding application foundation.
Poots mentioned Ray’s collaboration with the National Black Theater in Harlem. "This is a smart way, because this is not the kind of noble and noble gift for them," Putz said. "They are all trying to create something that may be sustainable-you plant the seeds and it will grow into something powerful and powerful. It is considering correcting the systemic imbalances that exist in our society. This is a kind of creativity that supports the organization Way-not a particularly traditional way of charity, but a way of empowering them. When you have huge wealth like her, you should be generous-but also smart."
Govan said that on the LACMA board of directors, Zhukova has always been a strong supporter of the satellite campus. The museum plans to open a satellite campus near Los Angeles in an effort to establish what Govan calls "a decentralized museum in a decentralized metropolis." Govin said that she also strongly supported the LACMA flagship store to be designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor on Wilshire Boulevard and proved that it "played an important role in advocating architecture." "I will call her a cultural entrepreneur. She is doing this to serve the future of more audiences. She is leading [promoting] bold, concrete and future-oriented projects."
Max Hollein, who was appointed as the head of the Metropolitan Museum three years ago, said that Zhukova “is playing a huge role, and for me, as a director, she is an important partner in pushing the institution forward. "She is particularly interested in the museum's digital plan and chaired a visiting committee in 2019 and 2020-a group of supporters closely related to the digital department's products. In the challenging period that followed, these products allowed the museum to stay in touch and expand and even expand its audience during the pandemic-related lockdown.
“She firmly believes that potential outreach and existence go far beyond physical architecture,” Hollein said of Zhukova’s support for the program, such as the elaborate online “introduction” provided by the museum for exhibitions, as well as the use of artists and curators. An in-depth podcast with human features. Hollein attributes her love of the media to her connections with other digital entities such as Garage Magazine and Artsy.
"Her fingers are on the pulse," Hollein continued. "She and I can have very insightful conversations. What I like about Dasha is that when we talk about what we are doing, what we are planning, and the people involved, she immediately understands-and asks how she can help or Suggestions for improving this method, whether through her experience or her connection. She is very engaged, but also very colorful, and has a certain energy and atmosphere that can help this type of organization."
The same energy and atmosphere helped Zhukova bring her own color to art collection institutions and her appreciation of art, not just things sitting on a pedestal or hanging on a wall. "No matter what we think of a museum, the first and most important thing is that it is a collection of people," she said. "People are the lifeblood of a museum. Without them and the vision and work they are doing, it is essentially just a collection of objects."
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