Design

Cultured Collections with Wendy Goldsmith

The art advisor and former head of Christie’s 19th-century European art department, and one of the auction house's first female auctioneers, presents her own home in London as a salon for art.

Elizabeth Fazzare

Photography by Iona Wolff

Wendy Goldsmith’s apartment, Photo Iona Wolff
Wendy Goldsmith's apartment, featuring Ling Jian's "Suspension in Melancholy," 2006.

Elizabeth Fazzare: How did you begin to build your own collection?

Wendy Goldsmith: My father was an art dealer so I grew up with the floors of Christie’s and Sotheby’s as part of my playground. I suppose that means that the art world has always been in my blood. It seemed a natural progression to then go on and work for Christie’s, in both New York and London, eventually becoming an International Department Head. I was exposed to the best of the best, across every field, which really trains your eye and refines your taste. Though blessed with that education, I was an observer for quite some time before I actually started collecting myself. Works by Francesca Woodman are a big part of my collecting story: they are both my most recent and earliest purchases. Her photographs have become something of an obsession since I encountered them at Victoria Miro gallery.

EF: What pieces inspired you to continue?

WG: With modern masterworks and the blue chip contemporary artists there’s always the thrill of the chase. But working on behalf of my clients means that I’m also constantly exposed to a new generation of up and coming, exciting artists from around the world waiting in the wings. When I first came across paintings by Ali Banisadr I stopped dead in my tracks. I was completely blown away. I’m inspired by artists like that, who have a uniqueness, whose work isn’t derivative of something that has come before. Or an artist who upends tradition like Lalla Essaydi, she creates dazzling staged photographs which use 19th-century Orientalist-style painting traditions to challenge stereotypes.

wendy goldsmith woman sitting

Wendy Goldsmith in her kitchen, with works by Sebastiaan Bremer.

EF: What designers/artists are inspiring you right now?

WG: I’ve just finished collaborating with interior designer Hubert Zandberg on a renovation of my home and office studio. I’ve never met anyone with the gift of layering and styling an interior with so many unusual and beautiful objects, yet still have it feel so relaxed and personal. His sources are incredible and the result is a work of art which has given me the perfect, intimate setting for showcasing works to collectors.

EF: Does the marketplace help your discovery process? Why or why not?

WG: Having good relationships across the art world means the opportunities for discovery are everywhere. That and the fact that the art world is a completely different animal from the one I started in decades ago! Back then, the internet was in its infancy and there was no such thing as social media. Technology means that you can now see art from anyone, anywhere, and while that means there’s a lot of noise, I find this actually makes it easier for genuine talent to stand out.

EF: What is the next piece on your radar?

WG: I’m a great fan of contemporary figurative art, probably influenced by my years working with 19th-century European art and I have a few female artists in my sights. I’ve been following Jenna Gribbon and Jocelyn Hobbie for a while now; they are both huge talents.

EF: What is the one piece that got away?

WG: They are always the ones you can’t quite afford!

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Wendy Goldsmith with work by Lalla Essaydi.
Wendy Goldsmith with work by Lalla Essaydi.
Bedroom with work by Lalla Essaydi.
Bedroom with work by Lalla Essaydi.
Wendy Goldsmith with Ali Banisadr, The Devil, 2012.
Wendy Goldsmith with Ali Banisadr, The Devil, 2012.