Fresh Perspectives

Art collecting trends and the bright, international future of Israel’s art scene

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“Visibility, visibility and visibility again.” Mirav Katri, Director of Outset, a platform providing Israeli artists with opportunities to show their work internationally, has no doubt about what the Israeli art scene needs.

The crucial role that art collectors should play, and the importance of stepping visibility up to the next level, was reinforced by Roni Gilat-Baharaff, collector and International Senior Director & MD of Christie’s Israel: “Life here is very rich, it’s complicated, and it creates great art. We’ve seen Israeli artists at the MoMA, at the Whitney, in galleries and art fairs, but still the market remains local.”

With approximately half of Israel's billionaire population calling Tel Aviv home, the vibrant city has been experiencing a growing appetite for art and collecting: in the city, across the country and from overseas.

Since 2013, UBS has been Main Partner of Israel’s largest art fair and program platform, Freshpaint. For its 2019 edition, Christine Novakovic, UBS Head of Wealth Management for Europe, Middle East and Africa, moderated a conversation between prominent Israeli collectors and cultural operators at Gordon Gallery. Speakers explored and examined collecting trends in the Israeli arts scene, and its increasing internationalization.

Katri, Gilat-Baharaff, and passionate art collector and entrepreneur Edouard Sterngold had different but highly compatible ideas on what collectors can do to support and internationalize the Israeli art scene, ideas that could easily be applied to regional contexts worldwide.

“As a collector, I don’t differentiate between Israeli and International art,” noted Sterngold suggesting that, once juxtaposed, artworks from faraway places can provide a necessary cultural bridge. His words also underlined the importance of new generations: “Today newer wealth is created by technology start-ups. Do they collect? If you are successful with a company, part of your DNA should also be culture. And if you want to know where the future is, art is definitely the key.”

As Christine Novakovic remarked, millennials are the fastest growing collector segment, as revealed in the Art Basel and UBS Art Market Report 2019: “9% of the global art market sales happened online.”

“We need passionate, methodically created collections” said Gilat-Baharaff. “Online bidding makes distances much shorter, it has changed the way we look at art, and widened the possibility to buy it.”

Nurturing and educating new collectors was also front and center for Mirav Katri. According to her, a truly international art scene needs local patrons “who love art, want to be part of the scene and donate back” and residency programs allow Israeli artists to see the world as well as, importantly, international curators to come to Israel and discover their work. “Technology and art are definitely getting closer and I think it will be one of the keys for Israeli art to be more and more visible on the international scene.”

May 2019