Holidays 2014: Adventures in Art with Christie’s

Christie's Travel

Christie’s Travel in association with Abercrombie & Kent organised a week in New York for the opening of the Jewels by JAR exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum (pictured), at which guests were given a private tour before it opened to the public.

Special presentation: If one has a passion for art, the layers of access needed to permeate the scene are ever increasing. Enter Christie’s Travel in association with Abercrombie & Kent, which has an itinerary that opens up the enclaves of the art world.

The locus of the art market is shifting towards some perhaps unexpected locations. In December 2013, Christie’s held an inaugural art auction of modern and contemporary South Asian art in Mumbai, India, with sales totalling in excess of US$15 million, roughly double the pre-sale estimate. Alongside this is another international trend: as artists become successful so they are building and creating homes worth visiting (for example, Jorge Pardo’s house in Mérida, Mexico). Meanwhile, certain collectors have developed mini (private) museums of their own, with pieces to rival those hung in some of the world’s greatest galleries.

If one has a real passion for art, the multiple layers of access needed to truly permeate that world — and form a stellar collection of one’s own — are ever increasing. To meet those needs in the field of art travel, Christie’s, in association with leading luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent, has launched Christie’s Travel (following a meeting between Steven Murphy, CEO of Christie’s and Geoffrey Kent, founder, chairman and CEO of Abercrombie & Kent).

“Our aim is for our clients to see art before anybody else, to connect directly with the artist and their way of working. We centre our trips both around established centres of art and upcoming enclaves that we know are going to be at the forefront of the art market within the next few months,” explains Eric de Cavaignac, head of corporate development at Christie’s.

In January–February 2014, Christie’s Travel in association with Abercrombie & Kent organised an art adventure in India, which was arranged to coincide with the India Art Fair. Dr Hugo K Weihe, Christie’s international director of Asian art, and Karen Stone Talwar, international managing director of Christie’s Travel in association with Abercrombie & Kent, led the trip, providing introductions to the latest Indian galleries, the artists themselves, and, when requested, were on hand to facilitate purchases. Highlights of the trip included a personal tour of the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi with Subodh Gupta (Gupta being widely regarded as India’s answer to Damien Hirst, only more interesting, and the Indian artist every collector wants a piece by) and tea with the Maharani of Jaipur in the drawing room of Jaipur’s City Palace, at which she gave guests the ins and outs of art and crafts in Jaipur. Alongside this there were visits to numerous private collections and ateliers of a number of significant Indian artists, where there was ample time to chat about the ideas and inspiration, and really get a true understanding of the working practices of each artist. Finally, although not necessarily an art-related experience (although definitely an Indian one), there was elephant polo.

That last is emblematic of the rounded approach that each trip takes. The hotels and restaurants chosen along the way are outstanding, and picked to compliment the programme. “We aim to give our guests a real insight into the culture of the place we’re visiting,” Talwar explains. A trip to St Petersburg for the opening of Manifesta, the 2014 European Biennial of Contemporary Art, would “not be complete without at least one ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre”. Talwar’s background is in art travel: she was previously the founder of Adventures in Art. But in addition to her own impressive Rolodex, there are also the contacts of the Christie’s specialist enlisted to help plan each trip. A week in New York for the opening of the Jewels by JAR exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum (guests were given a private tour before it opened to the public, thus ensuring no fighting for views) was hosted by Raymond Sancroft-Baker, director of Christie’s Jewellery, and guests also enjoyed private visits to the workshop of Van Cleef & Arpels and the ateliers of Prince Dimitri and James de Givenchy.

Upcoming destinations include Indonesia in November 2014. “It’s a vibrant but not-too-known art scene,” Talwar explains. “You’ve got the galleries in Jakarta, the magnificent Borobudur Temple, several incredible private collections; and then we’re going to finish in Bali, where’s there’s also a really interesting scene, but where there’ll also be some time to relax.” In the same month there’s a trip planned to Los Angeles for the opening of the Eli and Edythe Broad Museum. Talwar says: “We’ll take in the LA galleries and there’ll be time to examine the architecture of Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive. We are also arranging invitations to a few super private collections where guests can see how other collectors have curated their art installations and reflect on their surroundings. I’m also going to make sure that there’s time to go to the Getty Museum, the Norton Simon Museum and Santa Barbara to do some wine tasting.”

The guests themselves are a mixture of nationalities. Some are art professionals or collectors, others simply enthusiasts. Numbers are kept small on the trips at no more than 15, to ensure that there is never a ‘tour-group’ feeling and also so that any requests can be met. For instance, a visit to the Jewish Temple in New Delhi and a rickshaw ride around the older parts of India’s capital were both put forward, while in situ, and immediately arranged. “I love introducing people and seeing what might happen,” Talwar explains. “And I don’t mean in a mercenary sense, although of course there are collectors who I introduce to artists who do become patrons. Rather, I love hearing an exchange of ideas take place, seeing a potential for collaboration. It’s always a real pleasure to me that the people who meet each other on these trips keep in touch, not just with me, but with each other.”

Besides the 15 planned itineraries that Christie’s Travel in association with Abercrombie & Kent puts together every year, it’s also possible to commission a private trip, something that might work well for a group of friends, or a family wishing to celebrate a birthday or anniversary together. A Christie’s specialist can be engaged to help design an experience that will appeal to everybody, taking in individual interests. “Anything is possible,” confirms Talwar.

For more information about Christie’s Travel and its upcoming itineraries, click here.

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