Vic Selbach | TRAILBLAZERS AND MAVERICKS | Season 1, Episode 3
TRAILBLAZERS AND MAVERICKS
a series of conversations with art-world instigators
by Victoria Selbach
Season 1 Episode 3
A conversation with Christine Wachter of Winston Wachter Fine Art
In a gallery world where we are often starved to see the perspectives of women artists, Winston Wachter has a history of surfacing and showcasing important female voices. So given the chance to speak with Christine Wachter, at the top of my list was to find out how Winston Wachter Fine Art arrived at such a balanced roster. The answer: organically.
Christine Wachter entered the art world when women artists were not visible and ‘galleristas’, no matter what they contributed, were seen as window dressing. Yet there was never any question that she would build a strong career for herself in the male-centric world. Indeed, while she was quite young, Christine rose to Director at an important New York City gallery. Christine Wachter and Stacy Winston went out on their own and launched Winston Wachter in 1995. They initially brought in the talent they knew. Coming from a background populated by white males in every facet of the business it is no surprise their original artists were all male. With an eye for true talent, without gender bias, female artists quickly became part of the roster. Christine and Stacy were open and transparent so they were approached by more and more female artists. Kindred spirits of their generation, making important art that spoke to the times, joined the gallery. Having taken bias out of the equation, a real-world mix happened organically. It was never a question of male versus female. Christine and Stacy avoided labeling themselves feminists. There was never an intention to only show women. It was simply about the best work.
Christine finds, “Women artists with confidence connect with them; confidence to make important work and confidence in their presentation.” Empowerment and confidence shifts work. At a recent university visit, where a lot of the artists were female, Christine found, “Their language, their body language, and their work was assertive, presenting as an important part of the vernacular.” There is an abundant wave of women making strong work. Christine has seen a dramatic increase recently in female sculptors who are making larger outdoor works. There are shifts in collectors as well. Christine reflects, “Twenty years ago it was the husband walking in the gallery and making selections. Maybe, he would say ‘Let me call my wife.’ You would see some husband and wife teams. Now women walk into a gallery and maybe they'll say, ‘Let me call my husband.’ Maybe not.”
Christine adds, “Although we may be frustrated with the pace of change, the art world is opening up at light speed compared to the 1960s through the 1980s. All you need to do is look at the Whitney Biennial catalogs over the last twenty years and compare the dramatic difference.” Diversity in the art world has the potential to create global cultural shifts. Christine notes, “30 years ago there were only two art markets; American and European. As new markets opened; Chinese, Russian and Asian, the focus was overwhelmingly on blue-chip established white male artists, but that is shifting. International collectors are taking on new work from diverse voices and taking chances with emerging artists.” We are moving in the right direction and momentum is building. Actors at all levels of the art world have an opportunity to contribute to progress by championing authentic voices from diverse perspectives within all their projects.
Coming up next: Season 1 Episode 4
Victoria Selbach talks with collector Dr. Elaine Melotti Schmidt