“Life and art are a matter of risk”: Gabé Hirschowitz, hip art consultant, talks about his avant-garde approach to collecting

Gabé Hirschowitz is one of the trendiest young people in the world of contemporary art consultants. Born in Australia and raised in the United States, Hirschowitz has already acquired a remarkable curriculum vitae. She is worked as head of the acquisitions committee at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) and advised many established collectors while leading the philanthropic efforts of the Young Leadership Board of Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services and UNICEF Next Generation Art Party. For her charitable work, she received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award from President Barack Obama in 2016. ​​Through it all, Hirschowitz says her career has been a joy, “I enjoy bringing beauty to other people’s lives in a unique and meaningful way.”

More recently, she set a new standard in the world of art collecting by founding Perrie Gallery, an innovative online platform that combines the accessibility of internet art sales with the rotating curatorial practices of traditional galleries. Expert in decoration and imagining collections as aesthetic as the pieces that compose them, Gabé has the unique ability to connect with a wide range of collectors, from those acquiring works by widely recognized artists like George Condo, Yayoi Kusama and Mark Bradford to those seeking works by up-and-coming talent.

“Life and art are a matter of risk,” says Gabé. “And the same goes for curating a collection. In fact, risk taking has been a huge part of everything I’ve done professionally. You must be prepared to take risks, combining lesser-known emerging artists with established masters, because it is the unfamiliar and unknown who bring a fresh and fearless new perspective that challenges the status quo.”

Gabé Hirschowitz at Gagosian, New York.

Have you always wanted to work in the art industry?
In college, I spent summers interning in fashion. My first two internships were for Italian vogue and teen vogue. Then, I did an internship at Carolina Herrera, and every morning I walked past the portrait of the couturier by Andy Warhol. It reminded me of how my mentor, the late Nanci Ryder, always encouraged me to build lasting professional relationships across all industries: she knew from experience that everything and everyone is so connected – music, art, fashion, film – everything is very synergistic. Creative expression is universal. So I started branching out into art, and the more I fell in love with it, the more opportunities presented themselves. It was an evolution. I will always love fashion, but the visual arts chose me.

What prompted you to open your own space?
It really boiled down to one thing: accessibility. I wanted to create an online platform for people to collect high-quality, well-organized art and photography. But the most important thing was to eliminate that intimidation factor that some of my clients and private collector friends have said they feel when they walk into a gallery, because art should be about joy. I therefore wanted to bring together collectors and artists in a neutral and united space which also benefited from my experience as an art consultant.

You live between New York and Los Angeles. In terms of the art market, these are two very different cities. How do you reconcile that with your inventory?
For me, the emphasis is probably more on how to reconcile a world art market with our inventory at the Perrie Gallery because, as digital gallery and private art consultancy, our buyers are all over the world. So a lot of energy goes into sourcing such a diverse inventory as our buyers, but I’d also like to think that much of what we offer has universal appeal. Our artists each have their own style, but their works fall into various aesthetic veins and they live all over the world, from North America, Europe and Australia to Africa, Asia and Central and South America.

Hirschowitz curates a KAWS gallery wall.  Courtesy of Gabé Hirschowitz.

Hirschowitz curates a KAWS gallery wall. Courtesy of Gabé Hirschowitz.

How do you choose the artists you represent? Is it an intuition or a more intellectual choice?
I know what I like at first glance and what will sell, but I’m also very interested in artists who have dedicated their lives to their craft. Moreover, discovering emerging artists, connecting them with collectors and helping them develop their careers is indescribably rewarding. I want to know their ideas about art, society and the world, and that they constantly evolve and grow. So of course I want eye-catching pieces, but I also want to know that they come from a place of engagement and perception. This is the kind of art I want to work with and encourage.

You also do a lot of charity work, how important is giving back to the community? Are all charities related to the arts?

I have always firmly believed that collecting art should be more than just buying art. This is why I have committed myself wholeheartedly to my work with the UNICEF Next Generation Art Party for five years and traveled abroad to volunteer in UNICEF development activities. I also worked with Vista del Mar Child and Family Services for many years as a volunteer mentor in the field of arts and culture, because I sincerely believe in the importance of arts education. Although the funding for this charity work is often linked to my career in the art world, these projects do not always focus on supporting artistic initiatives. For example, with the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war, I decided to dedicate part of the Galerie Perrie exhibition Spring/Summer 22 collection proceeds to World Central Cuisine. Their efforts to feed the millions of refugees displaced by the conflict are vital.

What works do you have in your living room?
I like to collect the works of emerging and established artists and change them regularly. At the moment some of my pieces include pieces by Robert Motherwell, Kenny Scharf, Jen DeNike, Alexandra Grant, Lillian Bassman, Gordon Parks, Aaron Sandnes, Joan Miró, Emma Kohlmann, Zahra Holm, Thomas Hammer, Joe Blaustein, Kyte Tatt , Sam Falls and Kaws.

If you could dine with three artists, living or dead, which one would you choose? Wow, that’s hard to answer. I would say… Mark Bradford, Frida Kahlo and Andy Warhol.

What would you like your legacy to be?
I feel like I have so much left to do! Let me get back to you on this one in a few decades.

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