Last week I was lucky enough to tag along to a little introductory evening with Tove Langridge in his new TWFineArt GuideShop. I was delighted to discover a thoughtfully curated portfolio of beautiful artworks that don't break the bank! Tove was kind enough to answer some questions about how it all come together to kick the blog (me!) back into gear for the new financial year...
Tell us a little bit about your background?
I studied a business communication degree at QUT + worked in project management for Vodafone before deciding to pursue a fine art degree in New York. I couldn't see a fulfilling future in my trajectory at that time + went out on a limb to apply to art schools in Manhattan. Ultimately I chose The School of Visual Arts. Academically I did pretty well, majoring in art history + painting + was awarded the Rhodes Award when I graduated
Initially I worked in contemporary galleries in Chelsea as an assistant to the curator + art handler. Later a friend + I rented a large loft space in Bushwick, Brooklyn, that we subdivided + converted into studios. Our aim was to create an open studio facility that demystified the artist by allowing people into the studios to see their processes + studio practice on a daily basis. Our artists would put on exhibitions in our gallery space + slowly but surely Bushwick became an upcoming arts area. Today there are over 500 studios in Bushwick.
At the same time I met + began working with Abstract Expressionist Michael Goldberg who introduced me to his network of critics, artists, musicians, writers etc. After working with some private collections, managing + acquiring contemporary work, I was approached by Mike's Estate (he passed away in 2007) to manage his collection which I did until I left in 2012.
What was the catalyst for TWFineArt?
TWFineArt was literally conceived when I worked with Benefit Print Project whilst at the Estate. We produced a print from an oil painting on paper + I was blown away with the quality - it was difficult to tell the original from the reproduction. I am a huge believer that art is important in life: imagination + creative thought give rise to many wonderful things. My problem with the art world is that it is very aristocratic (even though the artist very rarely is an aristocrat) + the average person can't afford access to the world of visual art unless it's through some poor quality museum poster or a machine printed piece with little artistic integrity.
I loved that at the Estate I went to work + looked at amazing art all day even though I could never afford the $100,000 plus price tag. My intention with the prints was to bring that great art to the market at a reasonable price point.
The process began by showing the quality of the cotton rag print to the artists that I admired + loved which, in turn, convinced them to think about allocating some work to be used in print. In some ways I think visual art has been left out of the way we think about many of the other arts. Take music, film, theatre - each of these art disciplines has evolved to be accessible to the full breadth of society. Visual art, for some reason, has not. The ideas of circulation, reproducibility + accessibility can be applied to the visual arts through this type of print because it preserves the touch + feel of the original.
Why shouldn't we be able to afford great things? I stand by that + that's what we're trying to achieve.
How do you source the art + artists in your portfolio?
The artists that I work with are colleagues from my time in the NYC art scene. They range from artists that are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art like Michael Goldberg, Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe + Christian Haub, to younger artists that are showing in the gallery circuit + already have a great reputation + collector base. We have a scout in New York who is constantly on the look out for emerging artists or sourcing new pieces from our existing stable of artists for the collection.
There's a GuideShop + online store - how does it all work + what inspired you to set up this way?
I wanted to create a less formal environment that the traditional gallery that not only embraces new print technology to make the work affordable, but also the retail tools of today's customer - the internet. Our GuideShop is a fusion of gallery + online retail space where customers are invited to come in + see a curated selection of work from our portfolio while interacting with the website on our remote terminals to see the full print portfolio online.
We feature monthly shows of work from our collection where we mix prints with original pieces to show a full range of options for our customers. Prints can be ordered from the comfort of your home, or in store through twfineart.com + will be couriered to you or can be collected from the GuideShop. There is a 3 day turn around for printing + framing.
I was inspired by the fashion industry really. There is a great company in the US that is an online store but has flagships in each major city where you can go in, see the range, try on your size + then order online. Everything is mailed out to you. I thought it was a fabulous model + it inspired the way we've set up the business.
If you had to pick a favourite piece from the portfolio which would it be + where would you love to see it?
Oh - tough! Since I'm always looking at new work + adding to the portfolio I tend to have a favourite of the week. This week I'm really taken with the photographs of Margarita Dittborn Valle. I am a huge admirer of the Dutch masters + the surrealists. Margarita's images draw from both to create these unusual, mysterious works. The light + colour I find quite captivating! I'd love to see it in the home of someone who really loved the work + never had access to such an amazing before we came about... that would make me very happy.
Finally, which creatives are inspiring you at the moment?
I am very inspired by the work of Melbourne artist + friend Briony Barr. She looks at complex systems + recreates them in a visual language. Starting from a simple set of rules or visual algorithms she creates these massive works that are a real fusion of intent + accident. She embraces the non artist + involves them in the construction of the work which I think is an amazing way to involve people in a creative endeavour. I think her work is spectacular + it's no wonder that The Museum of Modern Art in Seoul selected her to open the museum with one of her amazing pieces (below). Museum guests were invited, under her supervision, to construct the work. It's made from tape + is a beautiful metaphor for the controlled chaos of our lives + their inevitable impermanence.