I don't know if 33-year-old Ekaterina set a goal to charm me, but she did it. And right away. “Come on, can I make you coffee? Here are the dates - I myself adore sweets, but I allow myself to eat it only until two in the afternoon. " “Yes, we have everything fashionable, conceptual,” she smiles, noticing that I am examining the stationery on her desk: sharpeners in the shape of funny figures, an oval stapler, a pencil holder in the form of an audio cassette. Katya is keeping herself simply, we immediately turn to "you". I look around the bright office. The staff is mostly up to 35 years old, no older, there are paintings and installations on the walls. These are the works of young Russian artists that Vinokurov is promoting in the framework of Smart Art (she recently launched it with her colleague at Christie's Anastasia Korneeva). She speaks vividly, emotionally - so that even a personfar from contemporary art, it becomes curious. I am doubly curious: with Vinokurova we graduated from one university - Columbi in New York. I studied for a master's degree in journalism, and Vinokurova studied political science. The choice of the faculty is probably not accidental, after all, she is the daughter of one of the coolest diplomats in the world. She lived in America for 17 years - her dad Sergei Lavrov, now the Minister of Foreign Affairs, at that time served as Russia's plenipotentiary to the UN. Katya recalls the years in New York - especially her studies at the Columbi University - as one of the brightest periods in her life. Then a year of study in London, where she met her future husband. At the age of 23 she returned to Moscow. After working for a year in the press service of an oil and gas company, she moved into the art business. And since then he has made a very dynamic career there:three years in the Moscow office of the London art gallery Haunch of Venison, then six years in the Russian office of Christie's, where she quickly grew to the position of director, having simultaneously given birth to two children and briefly leaving on maternity leave, and is still honorary chairman. Then - a new round: Smart Art company. The work involves many social events, but Katya, despite her sociability, leads a closed life
With a guide through life
MC: Art business is a pretty trendy topic right now. Bright people, interesting events, an international get-together. It seems to me that many girls would dream of following in your footsteps. Where should you start?
Ekaterina Vinokurova: There are many places where you can do an internship or try to get a job. It can be a museum, fund, gallery, or contemporary art fair. If you have no experience at all, then I would advise you to start with basic education.
And if with an eye on an international career?
Of course, getting to Christie's and Sotheby's is difficult, because people from all over the world tend to go there. If you can go for an internship in some country in Europe where the system of art galleries is more developed, it would be very good. There are also options in Russia. Here is the same VAC fund with whom the Smart Art office shares - here, by the way, only young people work and they constantly interview someone.
Why did you become interested in contemporary art yourself?
It is very dynamic and touches upon issues that are important here and now. We are young and energetic, we want to work with collectors of our generation, to help them get in touch with young artists.
How can a neophyte learn to understand this art?
The main thing is to be interested, ask, read. Go to exhibitions prepared. If possible, take a guide. In the same "Garage" guys tell great stories - I, for example, always take. It helps me that I have been in this industry for ten years. I would like, of course, to have a more formal education. When you know the history of art from its inception, you better understand contemporary art. Long ago, at Columbia University, I attended lectures on art history. Then, in Moscow, I attended courses at the Pushkin Museum. She attended lectures at the Phillips auction house.
I can't live without work
Why did you leave Christie's?
I wanted to try myself in something new. At Christie's, I certainly had a unique experience. And now I can apply it in other directions. We have done many outstanding projects: an exhibition in GUM dedicated to Elizabeth Taylor, large exhibition projects in the House of Muravyov-Apostol, in the House of Spiridonov. In 2015, we got our own exhibition area, and we did 11 client events in a year. They brought impressionists, old masters, Russian art together with the Tourbillon watch brand, organized a very popular event with rare Herme`s bags, projects with Christie's International Real Estate. But I needed a new round. In addition, a like-minded person appeared - Nastya, and together we decided to make our dream come true.
And how do you develop all this?
Smart Art is an intermediary between artists and collectors. We want to increase the recognition of artists, we promote them through various programs, including educational ones. We are currently collaborating with nine artists. These are Sergey Sapozhnikov, Alexandra Paperno, Alexey Buldakov, Anastasia Potemkina, Alexander Povzner, Daria Irencheeva, Alexandra Galkina, Svetlana Shuvaeva, Arseny Zhilyaev. Some work in traditional disciplines such as painting, photography and sculpture. Others create installations. And the inspiration comes from the urban environment, astronomy, history, gender relations and new technologies. At home, by the way, I have works by Sapozhnikov and Galkina hanging - I am slowly collecting the collection myself.
Is it possible now to make money on young art at all?
Smart Art is dedicated to promoting the underrated market for contemporary art. The financial threshold here is much lower than that of the art with which I worked at Christie's. But it is more relevant and accessible to the audience. We explain to collectors the value of a piece, talk about pricing, and help purchase. There are about 15–20 good galleries in Moscow that sell works by young authors, but more collectors are needed to increase them. Our task is to contribute to the formation of the contemporary art market by popularizing young artists.
How has the American mentality influenced you and your attitude to life and career?
The American educational system provides a lot in terms of self-confidence. Because you are taught from an early age that you have your “I” and you can do anything. The first year at the university I studied at Barnard College, there are only girls. And feminist ideas are present there in almost all lectures.
And now you live in Russia, which on the surface remains a very patriarchal country. How did your feminist background adapt to this?
When I arrived in Russia, I did not even have a thought that I would not work! I believe that harmony with oneself is very important, and if I did not have my own business, there would be no harmony. My American friends all work. Even small children are not a hindrance.
But still, you are an atypical heroine of our column. Many of us started from scratch, when there was no money and support at all. As far as I understand, this situation is unfamiliar to you?
Yes, I, fortunately, do not know what it is.
So money is not motivation for you? If not them, then what?
The financial factor is not the main component of my work, although it is important for me that the project is commercially successful. There is another motivation - it is a contribution to the future, to stand at the origins of something new and work with art, which will become the country's cultural heritage. I hope that in 10-15 years our artists will take pride of place in museum collections, in the collections of large funds and in the homes of important collectors. This is the main motivation!
I need a strong shoulder
You have two children. I ask this question to all ambitious girls: is it possible, in your opinion, to have it all? And work and mom to be without a load of guilt? In my opinion, it is impossible
But I think you can. But something's gottgive - something is always behind. Of course, it's hard to find a balance.
What is your personal balance?
At the moment, for me, family and children are number one. Sport is also very important for me - I do it five or six times a week. Twice a week I pedal on my bike, I do functional exercises with a trainer twice and Pilates twice. I recently started swimming.
What is a typical day for an art business owner?
Well, now I have a completely ordinary day today. I got up at seven in the morning, fed my eldest son breakfast (he is six years old). At eight I sent to school. Then I spent a little time with my daughter, she is three years old. At nine, I took her to the garden and went to practice. Shower, drive to the office. Usually I'm home at six. I used to have more social life. And now I have a job, I have a house, I have a gym - and I don’t feel like I’m missing something. I try, of course, not to miss big exhibitions in Moscow or, for example, the Venice Biennale.
What qualities do you value in a man?
Good question. First, reliability. It probably sounds like a cliché, but it's important for me to have a strong shoulder to lean on. If I have any problem and I cannot solve it, I call Sasha and the problem will be solved. I love alpha men with a strong character. Sometimes, of course, I suffer a little from this, because I fade into the background, and his decision is the law. But I am ready to put up with it, because he is the leader in our family. My dad has always been in charge with us. It is also very important for me that a man is athletic. Sasha, for example, does a triathlon, and so I also got on a bike with him - we went to Italy in the mountains last summer. It is important that the man looks after himself. And so that there are ambitions - interest in life, interest in work, so that he wants to grow, that there are many plans, that something is constantly boiling.
About the alpha male - here many emancipated American women would frown. How does this fit in with your brilliant resume?
We have been together for ten years, and if Sasha did not support me, I would not have this resume. He always gives me good advice - and on work too. And then, a very important point in any relationship is respect.
Did you deliberately want to marry a Russian man?
Yes, I wanted to connect my life with a Russian. Still, our humor, our mentality - it cannot be translated into another language. Although Sasha himself lived abroad from the age of 12, he graduated from Cambridge, worked in England, then in an American company.
Have you had to overcome prejudice because of your dad?
I never hid who my father was. But I almost never talk about it. And everyone who knows me knows that very few people helped me in my life. Of course, the main help was the education I was given.
What is the most valuable lesson you learned from your parents, first of all your dad?
Self confidence. I am an only child, and they always told me: you have to rely on yourself, you have to achieve … It happens that women’s education is taken less seriously - for some reason we think that a boy needs this, this and this, and a girl - not necessary. But I was never treated like that. My daughter is also growing up, and I would like her to have a better education - so that she can always rely on herself.
Ekaterina Vinokurova: dossier
Family: husband Alexander, businessman, two children
Education: Columbia University, New York, bachelor's degree; London School of Economics, MSc
Favorite cities: New York, London, Barcelona
Brand: Chanel, StellMcCartney, Céline, Nike, Zara
Cosmetics: Japanese brands
Jewelery: Gaydamak Jewelery, AnitKo, Nikos Koulis
Watches: Audemars Piguet
The choice of Ekaterina Vinokurova: 5 best art courses in Moscow
Courses at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art
Lecture hall of the Pushkin Museum
Institute of Contemporary Art Problems of Contemporary Art
Higher School of Art Practices and Museum Technologies, Faculty of Art History, Russian State University for the Humanities Art History
Courses of the Auction House Phillips
Photo: Ilya Vartanyan Style and images of the heroine: all Chanel
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