The Wick - Courtesy of Julia Baumhoff Zaouk The Wick - Courtesy of Julia Baumhoff Zaouk
Monday Muse

Interview White Cube’s Julia Baumhoff Zaouk  

Julia Baumhoff Zaouk
14 November 2022
Julia Baumhoff Zaouk
14 November 2022
This week, writer and artist Harland Miller opens a solo exhibition of new abstract letter paintings at White Cube Bermondsey, running until 22 January 2023. Gallery Director Julia Baumhoff Zaouk shares what to expect and her advice for new collectors as this week’s Monday Muse.

German born Julia Baumhoff Zaouk grew up in art city Cologne, Germany. Always passionate about art as well as classical music and opera, she studied Architecture and History of Art and moved to London to study in 1999. After working for a year for Vivienne Westwood and the Formula 1 Team Jaguar Racing, Larry Gagosian asked her in 2005 to set up one of the Gagosian galleries in London (Davies Street). After 12 years working with Gagosian in London and Geneva, she then joined White Cube in 2016. In addition to passionately working closely with her artists and advising private and institutional clients on building their collections, she is an avid supporter of the arts and charitable organisations around the world.

THE WICK:   Who is your ultimate Monday Muse?

Julia Baumhoff Zaouk:   My ultimate Monday Muse is Tracey Emin. She inspires me on so many levels. Tracey is the most powerful female artist I know. I admire her honesty expressed through her art in a great variety of different mediums, ranging from Installations, neons, paintings and drawings, film, photography, sewn applique and sculpture. Through her work she takes us on her life’s journey, communicating fundamental themes of love, desire , loss and grief.

TW:   What is your typical Monday?

JBZ:   I love Mondays. It’s the zen after the storm as most weekends are fun-filled, very social and busy. I wake up at 6.45am with my children to get them ready for school. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for me, so we start with a fully set table and calm breakfast session. As the gallery is closed to the public on Mondays, I enjoy working on artist projects and exhibitions, and catching up with my collectors and artists.

TW:   What advice would you give to new collectors?

JBZ:   For a newcomer, the sheer breadth and number of galleries and works of art can be overwhelming. The art world is often intimidating for many from the outside and may give the impression that it is only reserved for people that want to spend millions. I am a big believer that, unless you see art predominantly as an investment and asset class, you want to live with works for a long time. It is important to develop your taste and preferences by visiting many exhibitions and museum shows, and only then make a decision for a purchase. As art is a very personal experience, anybody buying art should trust their instincts and take into consideration if an artwork will appeal to them over a longer period of time.

TW:   You’ve been known to say, ‘you should never buy anything you don’t love’. What did you first fall in love with?

JBZ:   My grandmother was a great supporter of the Ludwig Museum in Cologne and my sister and I were regular visitors of the museum from a young age. I remember admiring Picasso’s ‘Harlequin with Folded Hands’ (1923).

“It is important to develop your taste and preferences by visiting many exhibitions and museum shows, and only then make a decision for a purchase.”

TW:   This week, Harland Miller: Imminent End, Rescheduled Eternally opens at White Cube Bermondsey. What do you think Miller is communicating in this new series of work?

JBZ:   For his current White Cube show, alongside ongoing series of work, Miller is introducing a new series that foregrounds words beginning with PR – words that have human appeal in that they denote states of mind that are universal – pressure or problems or promises. These paintings harness a powerful tension between the bold typography of the text and the intense and colourful abstraction that Miller counterbalances this with. They continue his preoccupation with words and phrases that have resonance and narrative potential in the mind of the viewer.

TW:   As more and more digital and new gallery spaces open, why do you think White Cube is still so important?

JBZ:   Tradition and continuity is very important. White Cube opened its door in 1993 and represents some of the world’s most contemporary artists. White Cube supports a huge range of very important museum exhibitions worldwide with its roster of artists – such as Antony Gormley at the Royal Academy, Tracey Emin at the RA, Michael Armitage at the Haus der Kunst, Theaster Gates at the New Museum, to name a few. While the digital component will be increasingly important to the client, it will never be able to replace experiencing the artwork in person.

TW:   What is your favourite culturally curious spot in London?

JBZ:   I have been a Patron of the Serpentine for many years and the Annually Commissioned Serpentine Pavilion is always a highlight in my diary. The Serpentine Pavilion is an annual artistic and architectural experience, which presents some of the world’s greatest architects. This year’s Theater Gates “Black Chapel” was powerful.

TW:   What artwork, song and book would you want on a desert island?

JBZ:   I would take a small Antony Gormley ‘MEME’ with me, Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, and Frédéric Chopin’s ‘Nocturnes’.

Antony meditates and does yoga, his little ‘MEME’ will bring a human figure for company and also support zenness and meditation.

Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet has been a great companion and guide for many years and is very thought-provoking, hence it would keep my mind engaged over a long period of time.

I played a lot of Chopin as a teenager and the ‘Nocturnes’ has always been one of my favourites. The ‘Nocturnes’ has a great variety and reflect the moods and feelings of night-time, offering a calming and soothing effect.

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