Kate Bellin founded her namesake art consultation firm in 2011 to curate growing collections and connect up-and-coming artists with buyers. The New York and Houston-based consultant, who boasts an M.A. from Christie’s and a stint at Harper’s Bazaar, brings a discerning editor’s eye when it comes to acquiring the right works for clients and their spaces, cultivating collections that feel right at home. She shared with us her favorite Viyet pieces and what makes them special to her.
VINTAGE James Welling Framed Prints
James Welling is a photographer to whom I feel a special connection; he was a visiting professor at Princeton (shortly after I graduated) and is part of the Pictures Generation of artists, on whom I wrote my first art history paper. He crosses boundaries, collaborating with musicians, designers, and poets. On a purely aesthetic level, my clients and I often prefer a pair of artworks (or a grouping) to one large piece, which allows for more flexibility in installation.
ANTIQUE Large Chinese Cloisonné Elephants
Elephants were my mother-in-law’s favorite animal and we have them all over our house; these are beautiful examples. Most of my clients prefer to start with wall-based pieces, but it’s fun when we’re able to expand to sculpture. I think it’s important to make sure each item in your collection says something about you; accessories should always, ideally, be bought or made by the owner, not chosen by the designer.
GRETA WALLER Oil Painting On Canvas Of Celadon Vase
An article in the Times many years ago highlighted several artworks consisting of a patterned background with an object or figure in the foreground. I discovered upon reading it that I, too, am drawn to this painting structure over and over again.
VINTAGE Fashion Sketch
I’d love to see this or a similar fashion sketch in a dressing area/room – woman’s or man’s! Fashion and art have long had a close and mutually inspirational relationship.
VINTAGE Early 1970s French Framed Botanical Chart
I curated an exhibition recently and quickly realized that all of the artworks I had chosen had a botanical theme. Most of my favorite artists incorporate flora or fauna in some way. Botanical prints are not just filler for decorators, but an important art form in their own right.
ANTIQUE Continental 18th-Century Carved Madonna And Child
My mom collected “Santos” when I was younger, and I am always scouring websites for my own set now. My search (mostly online) is certainly easier than her analog flea market quest.
What inspired you to start your art advising business?
After graduating with my M.A. from Christie’s, I worked on an important project for Acquavella Galleries recreating the legendary 1960s Pop Art collection of Robert and Ethel Scull; and I spent several years researching the Catalogue Raisonné of the paintings and sculpture of Jasper Johns, an invaluable academic experience where I was able to see and inspect many of his masterworks in situ. What I loved about both of these jobs was getting to know the collectors, seeing the way they lived with their art, and considering how to build on those inspirations, or thinking about how I might do things differently. But I have always considered myself a student of the art of today, and the idea of putting together young collectors with emerging or undervalued mid-career artists was always in the back of my mind as I began to navigate the New York art world.
What is your go-to source for design inspiration?
I have always preferred to live in a space with clean lines and white walls, with lots of room for art; but as I have spent more time in clients’ beautiful homes, and working with the decorators that advise them, I’ve become much more interested, and fluent, in design.
What should come first: selecting art or designing a room?
It’s a luxury to be able to design a room around a piece of art, but it’s not usually possible. I urge my clients to consider which blank walls are screaming for art, but not to get too specific with size or color. Everyone’s taste changes, and people move, and what you want to have in the end is an artwork that you love.
Describe your style in 6 words or less.
Clean lines with colorful, organic patterns
What’s the one piece of advice you would give someone who wants to start an art collection?
How do you know if you are getting good value? I always tell my clients to buy only pieces that hold meaning for them. Often we have to cultivate meaning through education and exposure. The more you know about an artist, gallery, medium, or style, the more you appreciate it. And there is no substitute for looking. It’s just as important to look at lots of lousy art as it is to study what are generally perceived as great paintings – in order to be able to see what makes that difference.
Which design blog, website, TV show, or magazine would you be lost without?
I am a complete Instagram junkie. I love its efficiency and its depth. I follow family and friends as well as designers and brands – and I have discovered several fantastic artists there. Jeffrey Deitch spoke to us at Christie’s many years ago and I remember he said that he was drawn to artists who were part of an informal group or collective (essentially, another layer of approval, from other artists). Instagram helps me to do that – to determine who goes with whom.
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