Collector, philanthropist and driving force behind London’s 176 exhibition space in a former Methodist chapel, Anita Zabludowicz, is visiting New York to exhibit photographic works from her collection and, she says, to search out new and emerging talent. Works by Wolfgang Tillmans, Thomas Struth, Gregory Crewdson and Stephen Shore will be on view at a cocktail reception being held on Friday at the New York offices of the Zabludowicz collection as part of the Armory Show VIP calendar. Zabludowicz, the wife of investment and real estate millionaire Poju Zabludowicz, is joining collectors including Ellen and Jerome Stern and Ronald Lauder who are also giving access to their homes or exhibition spaces.
While she may be in New York during Armory week, Zabludowicz is as focused on the city’s commercial gallery shows as she is on the fair itself. “It is a really good quality fair, a bit like a smaller more accessible version of Art Basel Miami Beach, but what is so important is that the Armory influences all the surrounding galleries in New York. Even those not showing at the fair itself create really strong, exciting exhibitions during that period,” she says.
Given the current financial climate, this year the effect the Armory Show has on the smaller galleries is perhaps more important than ever to Zabludowicz. “Due to the credit crunch we are going to be doing a bit of everything this time. We can’t focus so much on purchases so I am going to look, research and discover as well. I would like to buy lots, obviously, but this year I really can’t.”
Zabludowicz says she tries not to be influenced by press coverage of artists—“I try not to get involved in the hype”—and that it is gut instinct that leads her to choose a particular work. “I usually go for genius,” she says. “That is not easy to define but you just feel it. I want it to be something I have never seen before. Usually technically they are quite brilliant but sometimes that is at first not evident, for instance with someone like [Thomas] Hirschhorn. It could be a brilliance in the way they are thinking,” she explains.
Some of her most cutting-edge artist discoveries have come from New York with Dash Snow, Terence Koh, Rashid Johnson and Aaron Young all a part of the Zabludowicz Collection. While her process of discovery may not be pre-planned, she has a knack of identifying artists who later achieve high profiles. “I like to find artists about three years after they have graduated. That way I can follow and afford them hopefully until the day I die,” she says. “At that point the art is still pure in my eyes, it is art for art’s sake. They haven’t yet been grabbed by the big collectors or made a part of the international fair circuit.”
Supporting younger artists is very much Zabludowicz’s ethos. The 176 exhibition space in London has a strong education programme, and it regularly sponsors Zoo Art Fair, a satellite of the Frieze Art Fair that focuses more on emerging artists.
Meanwhile, Zabludowicz also told The Art Newspaper that she is planning to develop an exhibition space in Las Vegas. The plan started when Zabludowicz bought a 10,000 sq. ft installation by Keith Tyson last year, and the artist told her that it would be appropriate to install it in the casino city. As Las Vegas is looking to extend its cultural offerings, the city’s mayor offered Zabludowicz a free plot of land to build somewhere to show the work. The project is temporarily on hold as a result of the economic situation.