Lisa De Simone is the Director at C24 Gallery in New York City. C24 Gallery is two year old Contemporary Gallery dedicated to providing a platform for international artists working in video, installation, light, paint and sculpture. In addition to having guest curators, Lisa curates the exhibitions. Prior to joining C24 Gallery Lisa was the Specialist of Contemporary Art at Phillips de Pury, where she set auction records for artists such as Walead Beshty. Prior to that she helped launch Artnet online auctions and spearheaded curated sales. After graduation from University College London, Lisa worked at Christie's.
Could you talk a little about what draws you to conceptual art and your most recent exhibition?
I’ve had a thing for Conceptual Art since I went to The Philadelphia Museum of Art on a school trip and saw the Duchamps. It completely made total sense to me. Sol LeWitt, Ray Johnson, and On Kawara are part of a list of my superheroes. When Robert Rauschenberg erased the de Kooning drawing, the very act of doing it, was, to me, an act of divine inspiration. My interests grew from there and encompass, but are not limited to Language as Art. Ed Ruscha can bring me to my knees as can a Giovanni Bellini, a Joseph Kosuth, or Richard Wagner. This is a natural progression of interests that are reflected in the in C24 Gallery programme. I seem to be drawn to artist who use words as part of their palette. Our September exhibition was the first NY solo show of Robert Montgomery. Robert’s work is highly poetic, but he isn’t a poet in the traditional sense. Words are the backbone of his work, and the words themselves give birth to multiple meanings, other stories. The meaning can also be simply organised beauty, or just a collection of glowing letters, which are exquisite to look at. Robert creates his own font, he takes letters very seriously, and rightfully so. Opening November 1st is The Lincoln Bedroom by Skylar Fein. Abraham Lincoln shared a bedroom with Joshua Speed in 1830s . Many historians, biographers, and scholars have speculated about the nature of their relationship, causing an ongoing debate about Lincoln’s sexuality. Fein’s work combines factual and fictional histories, and proposes evidence of these uncertain moments through his imagery and objects. Since no photographs exist of the Speed residence, the artist relied on photos and sketches of similar structures, as well as on his imagination to create an impressionistic, and slightly hallucinatory recreation that is far from a museum period-room.
Visitors will have the opportunity to enter Fein’s vision by walking up the stairs above the Speed shop and enter the bedroom. They will be greeted by the faint smell of hay and tobacco, and hear music reminiscent of that moment in time.
What advice do you have for collectors when buying works by an emerging artists not yet established?
The best advice I could give anyone, regardless if the artist is emerging or established, is to buy what you love.
How did you get started in the art world?
More than a “start” I suppose it was a natural “progression”. When I was in high school my weekend job was sourcing art for Interior Designers. My grandmother was a painter, my grandfather a composer; my mother is a furniture designer and sculptor. Not being involved with art was never really something that was thought about, or considered. But to answer your question, after I graduated from UCL (University College London, Art History Major) I went to work the next day at Christie’s, which was truly a wonderful and educational experience, and it just grew and continued from there.
How do you view new submissions to your gallery and what is the process you go through?
Artists who want to submit work can do so on our website, there is a link to our gallery email. We do not accept work at the front desk, nor do I encourage artists to walk in, unannounced, and request a review. Ultimately, I have found that it is a case of me going to the artists, rather than artists coming to me, when I am searching for someone to work with, or I am curating an upcoming exhibition. Studio visits take up a lot of time, and it’s really the best part of what I do.
Can you give some younger artists out there advice who wants to be picked up by a gallery like yours?
The best advice is to be exceptional at what you do. Master whatever it is your doing. Be relentless. If you are a painter, make sure you know how to paint like Caravaggio or whomever you consider an alchemist with oils/acrylic, or whatever. Craftsmanship and skill go a very long way, and are just as important as concept and presentation. Being good isn’t really good enough, alas.
What is your opinion of selling art online?
It seems to work quite well for photographs and multiples, which is wonderful. I have noted that people tend to feel comfortable with transactions, which do not exceed, say, $10k, which is a lot. I am all for any platform that allows people greater access to art.
Where do you see that going in the future?
I assume it’s going to grow, especially as the online auctions and selling platforms allow you to be on one side of the planet and acquire a work on the other side of the planet. I hope that original works start to take off, and I think we will see larger transactions happening online in the future.