Nicolai Frahm art advisor and curator of Wanderlust at Sotheby’s S|2 gallery.
NEW YORK - I recently sat down with curator, collector and art advisor Nicolai Frahm to discuss the concept behind his upcoming exhibition at Sotheby’s S|2.
Growing up in Copenhagen, Nicolai Frahm’s parents collected post-war European abstract painting. Today he travels the world, obsessed by his quest to discover the most interesting art of his time in order to collect and build private art collections.
In 1997, while studying in London, Frahm saw the provocative Sensation exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art and his perspective immediately began to shift. “It was different from the art that I had grown up with…. It was exciting and challenging and was like nothing I had ever seen before. I also loved the idea of the super collector. This became really my great inspiration…. I was 21, and knew exactly what I was going to do from then on... My dream was to become a super collector.”
Indeed, Frahm has fulfilled his dream, becoming an influential collector, patron of the arts, and art advisor. Next February, he will open a nonprofit art centre with collector Frank Cohen in central London. It will draw from Frahm’s and Cohen’s collections, but will evolve from there into something else, including commissioned works by selected artists.
Takashi Murakami’s Kitagawa-Kun, Edition Of 3, 2002, part of Wanderlust.
Wanderlust, the exhibition Frahm has curated for S|2, takes us on a journey around the globe as seen through his eyes. His aesthetic is broad enough to accommodate the divergent paths of much of today’s art – from what he characterises as “very minimal, clean, Zen” to something that’s “very pop, figurative, in-your face.”
But perhaps the work that appeals to him most lays between these poles whose traits he describes as simultaneously “romantic and existential.” The show also highlights some of the discoveries he is proudest of, as well as artists whose career he helped promote at critical junctures in their careers. Frahm says, “I bought my first Murakami painting in 1997,and he is an artist that I’ve loved every single day since then. Rudolf Stingel was another artist who I bought extremely early on, and who I have followed ever since. He has added so much to the language of painting.”
Wanderlust includes several exceptional examples of Contemporary Chinese Art, a genre that has also been a longstanding focus for Frahm. “I started visiting China at the end of the 1990s, and found there was something very historical going on. While I bought that whole generation of artists, the two artists that really, for me, stood out strongly were Zeng Fanzhi and Ai Weiwei.” Frahm speaks with great passion about being at the crossroads of history, meeting with contemporary artists who had survived the Cultural Revolution, the literal destruction of art, and were creating something new and extraordinary.
[This article originally appeared in Sotheby's at Auction. To subscribe click here.]