This is a glimpse from ArtLaw.Club in conversation with Zané Grants-Wolff.
ArtLaw.club: Art advising is a very niche market segment that asks for quite some knowledge and experience in the field. What were the prerequisites for you to choose this specific job? What is your background?
Zané Grants-Wolff: An art advisor certainly needs a strong business background, as there is very rarely a collector who does not care for the economic value of objects and return on their investment. It is by no means the only aspect, but it is not unimportant. Excellent research and negotiations skills are also absolutely indispensable (because one work by Picasso does not equal in value to another work by Picasso). Well-developed visual cultureand eruditionEruditionare indispensable and a sedulous eyeare of top importance especially if the advisor is also the curator (def. someone who is building the concept and unity of a collection, and managing its day to day care). Yet, all this must be accomplished without the processbecoming overly academic and, thus, less accessible or less enjoyable for the collector, who may not be interested in the various tedious details. The advisor often has the task of steering the collector away from trendiness & ‘bling’, and to guide them toward personal expression and refined depth. The advisor has an important role of keeping the collector from paying too much in moments of passion during auctions or succumbing to pressure from selling professionals. In order to manage these relationships, the advisor must have excellent psychological skills. Next to the financial and intellectual benefits, emotional expression is another one of the main reasons people collect. Collecting is an exploration and a voyage which can be collective and individual,and it can evenfurtherbe used for family or group therapy and healing.
There is also certainly the less glamorous level of collection management, which requires legal background, organizational skills, and experience with various service providers, also an impeccable knowledge of the do’s an don’t of the trade.
Communication skills are the axis of managing collections – standards are set and kept, artistic directions of interest are defined and redefined in each collection, goals are set and met, relationships with artists and viewers of the final product are developed.
In summary, an art advisor must have a strong background in humanities, paired with business acumen, strong psychological and organizationalskills, topped by exceptional communication skillscapability, which is exactly my professional background. I studied Literature, Art History and Baltic Area Studies at University of Washington in Seattle. Later I spent numerous years working in Communications, including a directorship at the first Latvian Chamber of Commerce, which was created by his Excellency ex. Ambassador Armands Gutmanis in Vilnius in collaboration with top Latvian companies. To fortify my role as an art advisor I studied Art Law at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. However, I am not a lawyer, but a good adviser knows must know exactly at which point when to seek professional legal or other types help. I have worked on numerous private & corporate collections, also for the International Association of Corporate Collections of Contemporary Art.