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January 24, 2022

How to navigate the digital art space: Sophie Neuendorf's experts tips and insights

Article by newcube

4 min. read

Sophie Neuendorf

Bibi Zavieh: Sophie, it’s such a pleasure to chat with you. You and I go back, we may have crossed paths at Christie’s, but we worked more closely together during to my days working at artnet. It’s been amazing to follow all the projects you have been involved in since. You are Vice President at artnet – one of the only publicly traded companies in the art world, a contributor to several media outlets including artnet News, and an influential person in the digital art space. You were born and raised in a family that has for decades been actively involved in shaping the art world and the art market. Tell us a little about yourself, your first steps into the art world, what your current role at artnet encompasses and perhaps some exciting projects you look forward to?

Sophie Neuendorf: The art world is just such a fascinating and rapidly evolving space, I feel so privileged to be working in this industry! My first steps in the art world were at Jablonka Gallery in Berlin. They were hanging a Nobuyoshi Araki show on my first day – it was quite a sight for an industry novice! I then spent some time at Christie’s, which was an amazing experience. I have very fond memories of that time. At some point, I joined artnet as an intern, which turned into nearly 10 years now! At artnet, I am primarily responsible for our Investor Relations, as we are a publicly traded company. It’s a job that keeps me very busy but one that I enjoy immensely, as it connects me with all areas of the company on a near daily basis. We’re working on several exciting projects at the moment; most notably, the launch of our ArtNFT Platform, our first foray into the this emerging category.

Newly launched ArtNFT at artnet.

BZ: With the art world now fully shifted to the digital space, and particularly so in recent months, how do you perceive the digital art space today and tomorrow?

SN: As terrible as the pandemic has been globally, it also offered a great opportunity to make several changes, on a personal as well as professional level. Within the art industry, this meant finally embracing the opportunities that digitalization, data-driven decision making, and online transactions have to offer. Of course, fine art should always be enjoyed in person, I cannot imagine a life without galleries, museums, or studio visits. But I believe that the transactional element will and should increasingly take place online. It’s much faster, easier, and relaxing from the comfort of one’s home. Especially given the current health crisis. In the future, I believe that fine art will be broadly accepted as an asset class (especially given today’s inflationary pressure), and that the discovery and transactional element of the industry will increasingly take place online.

BZ: We certainly agree here at newcube, there is still quite a lot to tap into in terms of potential for the digital art space and for collector or curators, and it’s exciting to observe all recent initiatives. On a more personal note, the Neuendorf name is tied to the discovery of once young, now very reputable artists, such as Cy Twombly or de Kooning. Staying within this discovery tradition that you have certainly inherited from, who are the young artists you have had your eyes on these days or artists you have discovered in the past?

SN: My father, Hans Neuendorf, has truly been an inspiration for me in terms of discovering, nurturing and, and collecting emerging artists. For example, he discovered Lucio Fontana or Georg Baselitz before anyone else saw their genius. I’ve also started collecting, and I like to juxtapoze those works with Old Master paintings, which my partner inherited. It’s an astonishingly nice play between old and new. Recently, I’ve purchased works by Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Eddie Martinez, and Brice Guilbert. I am also considering a work by Dona Huanca and would love works by Amoako Boafo and Florian Krewer. From newcube artists, I also really like the works of Elina Salminen, Jesse Aridoux and Shantel Miller.

Hans Neuendorf, founder of artnet, in his New York offices.

BZ:That’s an impressive collection already and thank you for your newcube selection. Tell us more about your collecting habits. Do you typically buy from artists directly, galleries, online platforms, etc.?

SN: I really enjoy the discovery and collecting of art. I always speak with my brothers (Jacob Pabst, Albert and Henry Neuendorf) before I commit to a purchase, as they are very knowledgable and they also collect. I usually buy from galleries or online, however, I browse and research beforehand on artnet, of course!

BZ: I am sure you do! And in fact, I believe many of us do! So, what advice would you give to collectors looking to shop for art online? And to those looking to support young artists who have just graduated?

SN: My advice would be:

1-Learn to recognise quality and prioritise it over everything. It’s much better to own one great artwork than five mediocre works. The beauty of buying at an online auction is that it removes the time pressure of a live auction room. You get the time to browse, choose, and place your bid on that one piece you love.

2-Be patient and wait until a work of high quality within your budget comes up for sale. Then be prepared to act decisively and quickly. Don’t get discouraged if you miss out or end up being outbid for example; the next opportunity is always around the corner.

3-Study prices and the market extensively, so you can spot good deals when they come across. At artnet, we have the art market’s most extensive and trusted price database, which is an excellent research tool. If you don’t have time, get advice from one of our auction specialists, or else work with a reputable advisor.

4-Take transaction costs into account prior to bidding. Buyer’s premium, shipping, insurance, taxes and duties can add significant costs to your acquisition.

5- Enjoy yourself! Art collecting is excellent fun!

BZ: The price database is definitely one tool I can’t live without personally! And I know I am not the only one. At newcube, our team is dedicated to supporting the careers of young artists on the rise. Often, artists who have recently graduated feel a little lost in the art eco-system. Would you have any advice for young artists out there?

SN: Be conscientious about who you gift or sell your work to – Don’t dilute your market. Good relationships with your gallerist and collectors is key; be careful about nurturing those. And don’t be discouraged if the path to recognition and success takes longer than planned.

BZ: We couldn’t agree more. And any advice to online platforms, like ours at newcube, that are shedding light on the works of young artists and helping collectors make their first art purchase?

SN: It took many years and a lot of hard work for artnet to become as well known and invaluable for the industry as it is today. And still, we’re constantly working on improving ourselves! From that experience, my advice is to not give up and not to listen to negativity. Your team at newcube is creating an amazing product that will improve the art industry, and that’s the most important. As founding father Thomas Jefferson famously said: “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”

BZ: Thank you so much for your time Sophie! Always a delight to speak with you.

Sophie Neuendorf

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