Chic, charismatic and well-connected curator Sophia Koopman is a woman after our own hearts: a globetrotting tastemaker who selects the best of the best for her demanding clients (sounds a little like someone we know). Heading up Koopman Contemporary Art, Sophia travels the world to source creative pieces and super-talented international artists to showcase in venues from luxury hotels and public spaces to private homes. Sophia’s innovative approach is to develop a strong partnership with young artists in the infancy of their career, so she can mentor them and connect them to key collectors and designers. Here, she gives us the inside scoop on scoping out new creativity… _________________________________________________________________________
What first inspired you to get into art – and how did that develop into a career? My father was a famous silver dealer in the 1980s, setting record prices for silver when buying for his client Al-Tajir, the then ambassador of the UAE. As a child, I travelled to all the important worldwide auctions – such as the Duchess of Windsor jewel sale in Geneva – and was bidding on furniture and paintings at the age of 13. I entered the city after university, but after I had children, I reassessed what I wanted to do; when I got a project to provide art for a Moscow residence with Nicky Haslam, I realised selling to individuals and design professionals was what I wanted to do.
How do you go about provoking an emotional response? I think colour; it’s reflected in my clothes and when I put an art collection together. I like to build collections that are striking – usually with something you want to touch – using every medium available, including glass and ceramics, and to make it a varied collection that will be easy to live with: endlessly intriguing and fun. The placing of the work and great lighting is key.
Who’s on your art hot-list right now? I love sculptors Merete Rasmussen, Petr Weigl (right), Julian Wild and Martha Winter, ceramicist Loretta Braganza… the list is endless. My business partner has done a superb job in sourcing amazing artists – take a peek at Koopman Contemporary Art for a sneak preview of what else is available.
How involved do your hotel clients get in the selection process? Often they will employ a design consultancy whose work they have confidence in, and give them a basic brief; the consultancy will then provide a lengthy decor specification (furnishing, carpets, lighting, etc). We shortlist artwork that reflects the design concept whilst at the same time providing new ideas for the designers – most are responsive and love hearing about artists that they haven’t come across, as they are too busy to research and discover new art.
Where in the world is most exciting to you right now? Any creative hothouses? Every destination can stimulate in one way or another. I recently did a course on Latin American Art at Sotheby’s Institute. I represent a few artists from Chile, Argentina and Brazil– I find the art fascinating. There is new art emerging from Lebanon, and Iran, right now. Haiti is also interesting. Jackie Kennedy had a collection of Haitian art back in the 1960s.
Any favourite hotels? I loved Montalembert hotel in Paris (above) recently. It’s a great location on the Rive Gauche close to Boulevard Saint-Germain. The outdoor terrace for coffee or breakfast surrounded by low-level box hedges just in front of the hotel makes it look so inviting.
What do you never leave home without? A lot of reading material usually with one book related to art – I recently read Eli Broad’s The Art of Being Unreasonable. I like also to bring my set of Blackwing Palomino pencils and fancy notebooks! __________________________________________________
SOPHIA KOOPMAN’S INSIDER ADDRESS BOOK
For galleries/museums (and these are just a select few – worldwide there are so many!), I love MoMA and the Guggenheim in New York. I think the State Hermitage in St Petersburg is amazing; and the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam are fantastic; as well as the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, also in the Netherlands.
I love the patisserie and pink packaging at La Carette or Café de Flore. One of my favourite shops is the Ralph Lauren store on Boulevard Saint-Germain. I love the building. It’s not at all imposing and has friendly staff and a lovely courtyard oasis for eating – Ralph’s. I also love the eclectic umbrella store Alexandra Sojfer on the left bank, and just in the Tuileries Gardens main gate by the Place de la Concorde there’s a lovely book/garden store with exquisite plants.
La Carette 4 Place du Trocadero, St Germain, Paris 75016 (+33 (0)1 47 27 98 85)
Café de Flore 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain 75006 Paris, France (+33 (0)1 45 48 55 26)
Ralph’s at Ralph Lauren 173 Boulevard St Germain, Paris 75006 (+33 (0)1 44 77 76 00)
Alexandra Sojfer 218 Boulevard Saint German, Paris 75007 (+33 (0)1 42 22 17 02)
La librairie du jardin des Tuileries Tuileries Gardens, main gate, Place de la Concorde
(+33 (0)1 42 60 61 61)
Ricks Cafe – we’ll be going to this one over New Year…. Ricks Cafe West End Road, Negril, Jamaica (876 957 0380)