In 2018, contemporary art dealer David Zwirner hired the young Elena Soboleva to optimize his galleries’ online sales operation and digital presence—prompting some critics to respond with skepticism, wondering if a “millennial social media influencer” could lead one of the world’s largest galleries into the virtual realm. But Soboleva, who was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, to a family of scientists, was up for the challenge. She’d first glimpsed the potential of the digital sphere as an assistant at Manhattan’s Jack Shainman Gallery, where, as its youngest staffer, she set up social media accounts and filmed YouTube walk-throughs in the early 2010s; later, she spearheaded partnerships at the online art marketplace Artsy. Simultaneously, Zwirner was experimenting with ways to expand online, and introduced initiatives such as online viewing rooms and a podcast, both atypical for the art world at the time. “David thought of the online spaces as shoulder-to-shoulder with the physical galleries,” says Soboleva, who’s based in Belgium and New York, and who was recently promoted to become the gallery’s first-ever global head of online sales. “And, of course, that vision was very prescient, because when the pandemic hit, we had an incredible team in place that was able to seamlessly transition. Last year, we did more than forty online exhibitions.”
Soboleva continues to chart new territory. She recently launched Program, a livestream event series that transports viewers to David Zwirner galleries around the world, featuring new and never-before-seen works by its artists alongside compelling, contextualizing segments, such as a talk by New Yorker critic Peter Schjeldahl on the state of the art world. Next month, she’ll mount an online exhibition of a new series of paintings and works on paper by artist Nate Lowman, whose pieces will be shown concurrently, in real life, at The Armory Show in New York, from September 9–12. To better understand what informs Soboleva’s thought process, we recently asked her about her media diet. Like her work, it’s at once curious and quirky, ranging from surveying catalogues raisonnés to exploring new apps through a newsletter that embodies them in memes.
How do you start your mornings?
I try to sleep in as much as possible. Then I read the Financial Times on my iPad. On weekends, I let myself fully indulge in The New York Times. Another thing that I do is take my flowers out of the fridge—I put them there each night to keep them fresh. In Belgium, I get bouquets at a fantastic shop run by flower artist Thierry Boutemy, whom I follow closely on Instagram.
What podcasts do you listen to?
I’ve been thinking about Clubhouse a lot. It’s becoming more engaging and interactive [through its voice-based chats], which is a great evolution, because audio hasn’t had that level of interaction through traditional podcasts. The a16z podcast is probably my current favorite. It provides a constant array of thinkers on everything, from the innovation of Covid-19 vaccines to the long-term potential for cryptocurrency.
David Zwirner has a podcast, Dialogues, that’s in its fifth season. It’s really fun, because it brings together voices from different creative fields, such as Beeple, the digital artist who sold a $69 million NFT in March, talking with artist Jordan Wolfson. NPR’s How I Built This is a classic, and I love listening to some of the archived episodes for inspiration, like the ones featuring Bumble’s Whitney Wolfe, Spanx’s Sara Blakely, and Airbnb’s Joe Gebbia. And the Spotify series Renegades: Born in the U.S.A., featuring conversations between Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen, was great, especially after I listened to Obama’s book A Promised Land. It’s almost thirty hours long, and kind of a perfect companion for when I’m walking around New York.
What other books do you seek out?
My husband is very passionate about art books, so I constantly have these fantastic volumes arriving at our door that are often first editions or rare finds. Catalogues raisonnés are brilliant; you think they’re going to be very dry, but they’re actually the opposite, because it’s the entire oeuvre of an artist’s work. No museum exhibition could ever bring all of that together. Right now on my coffee table, I have a book called Cubism and Abstract Art that was written in 1936 by Alfred Barr, who was the first director of the Museum of Modern Art. The cover is a futuristic diagram that was the thesis of a MoMA exhibition of the same name. It’s kind of a touch point for art history.
Any newsletters you love?
I love The Canvas. It’s monthly market insights meets long-form interviews. I also find Product Hunt Daily‘s newsletter, which [uses memes to illustrate new digital products], very interesting, as well as Rhizome, which has a blog that’s great for people who are interested in digital artists.
What are you watching or reading for fun?
I’m probably late to the game, but I’m very into Call My Agent!, even though I’m only a few episodes in. And I can’t wait for the next seasons of Succession and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. One TV show I’m especially excited about is from the creators of the latter, and based on Ninth Street Women, a book by Mary Gabriel that I’m currently working my way through. It’s about five female painters from the Modern movement that challenged art.
Any guilty pleasures?
For fashion magazines, my absolute bible is Vogue Collections. They come out twice a year, and I hunt for them, whether it’s at airports or small bookstores. The publication is a bit oversized, has minimal ads and text, and shows entire collections of all the international major shows, in full entirety as the designers intended, instead of them editing for you. Since it’s bilingual, a single issue is released all over the world. You can flip through it, luxuriously, from anywhere.
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A recurring theme in design critic Alexandra Lange’s work is unpacking how—and for whom—objects and spaces are designed.The Dot-Com City, and surveyed how kids’ toys and physical environments impact their development in her 2018 book, The Design of Childhood. The ways in which outdoor public spaces, with their basketball courts, playgrounds, and skate parks, fail teen girls wa story she wrote for Bloomberg CityLab—one of many publications she has contributed to over the past two-plus decades.
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May’s colors, textures, and sense of renewal seem to be essential ingredients in Paris-based artist Alexandre Benjamin Navet’s exuberant work. A self-described “spring and summer boy,” his expressive drawings—often made in watercolor or oil pas
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For most of the 20th century, breaking a sweat was seen as unladylike. Popular opinion considered working out dangerous
One afternoon in February of 1966, Stewart Brand took half a tab of LSD, sat on a rooftop in San Francisco’s North Beach
Eating ramen is a multisensory experience: the fragrant steam coming off of the broth, the slurping sound of enjoying thThe Art of the Ramen Bowl” (March 18–July 5) that’s on view at the Los Angeles location of Japan House, an initiative with additional hubs in Londonburi, the porcelain receptacles in which ramen is traditionally served, and renge, the compact, teardrop-shaped spoons that often accompany them, made by 30 leading artists, architects, and designers.
Anicka Yi’s intoxicatingly sensory installations don’t just surround the viewer—many of them literally permeate the body, their sEp. 14 of our At a Distance podcast), in which three industrial steel tanks saturate the air with an aroma concocted by fusing secretions from carpenter an
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With their audacious, gravity-defying forms, skyscrapers have captured the public’s imagination for more than a century.Skyscraper Page, a zany website with a skyscraper discussion forum that has spread to some 100,000 threads. But what’s the point of obs
In the early ’90s, artist, aesthetics expert, and writer Leonard Koren was bathing at a hot-springs resort near the Japa
“Magazines may be a dying breed,” says Jon Kelly, a former Vanity Fair editor who founded its politics, business, and technology website, Hive, in 2015, after working as a staff editor for The New York Times Magazine and as a founding team member at Bloomberg Businessweek. (His career in media began at Vanity Fair, as an assistant to the legendary editor Graydon Carter.) “But magazine-style writing is always in vogue.” With this coPuck, a subscription-based website where elite writers tell insider stories that lie at the nexus of Hollywood, Wall Street,
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Bernie Krause and United Visual Artists Translate Nature’s Sonic Landscapes Into an Emotive Spectacle
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Omer Arbel, an Israeli-born, Vancouver-based artist and designer who creates boundary-defying objects and architecture, Omer Arbel (Phaidon), edited by Stephanie Rebick, an associate curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery, celebrates the depth and bread
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Los Angeles–based journalist Doree Shafrir sees beauty in the particular challenges faced by those who find their footin, pours her lighthearted yet critical perspective on her experience into Forever35, a self-care podcast she co-hosts with her longtime friend Kate Spencer, and into her new memoir, Thanks for Waiting: The Joy (& Weirdness) of Being a Late Bloomer (Ballantine Books), out this week. In the book, she interrogates the often overwhelming pressure that people—particular How do you start your mornings?
“Social Works,” a group exhibition that opened this week at New York’s Gagosian gallery on West 24th Street, explores space—and the m
“Clouds are not something to moan about,” Gavin Pretor-Pinney says in a 2013 TED talk. “Far from it. They are, in fact, the most diverse, evocative, poetic aspect of nature.” Pretor-Pinney, a British authoThe Idler, a magazine that extols the virtues of slowness, became fascinated with clouds after noticing them in the skies depicte
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Several years ago, Claus Sendlinger began contemplating ways to address his concerns about overdevelopment in the boutiqSlow, a hospitality venture dedicated to creating places that draw upon their locations’ culture, environment, and history aagriturismo (farmhouse retreat) called La Granja. The working farm practices regenerative agriculture, and teaches visitors how it
Maxine Bédat’s New Book Traces the Lifespan of a Pair of Jeans to Illustrate the Ills of Fast Fashion
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The first Monday in May is synonymous with the Met Gala, a benefit for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume InstitutVogue. “Designers live for it.” This year, the affair hasn’t happened yet—it may happen this fall—but to mark the annual occathe eighth episode of Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown.
To stay healthy, we know that our bodies need nourishment, hygiene, and exercise. According to those who study neuroaestEp. 34 of our At a Distance podcast) who runs the International Arts + Mind Lab (IAM Lab)—an initiative at John Hopkins University’s School of Medicine that connects brain scientists with artists to Arts + Health & Wellbeing, an immersive online tool kit that offers visitors an engaging dose of art, and consequent mental fitness, from anywherEp. 11 of our Time Sensitive podcast.)
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Practically everything the artist, master potter, and writer Edmund de Waal touches turns to dust. Or at least toward the idea of dust. In each of his books—2010’s The Hare With Amber Eyes, 2015’s The White Road: Journey Into an Obsession, and the just-published Letters to Camondo (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), out this week—dust serves as a profound metaphor. Throughout his work, whether in pottery or prose, de Waal explores various notions a
From a fashion perspective, the Golden Globes stands apart from other award shows for its timing: The event, during whicleft at that point,” says stylist Kate Young in the ninth episode of Hello Fashion (created with The Slowdown), noting that she usually starts working on Globes outfits around Halloween. For the episode
Julian Sancton knows a thing or two about bone-chilling temperatures. “For a while, I’ve been visiting a friend’s uncle’Departures magazine for nearly a decade. Despite the getaway’s frigid conditions, he continues, “It’s just so beautiful, and gave Belgica spent a sunless winter frozen in the Antarctic ice. Sancton traces the historic voyage, which wasn’t exactly smooth saiMadhouse at the End of the Earth: The Belgica’s Journey Into the Dark Antarctic Night (Penguin Random House), out this week. We recently spoke with Sancton about what he read during his research, and the ne Tell us about some of your favorite books on polar expeditions.
Arts education opportunities faded fast for kids in the learn-from-home fog of Covid-19. That’s where The Look Make Show, a new TV program by New York City’s Children’s Museum of the Arts, hopes to come in. The cartoon, of which the creatorKickstarter campaign through May 14, focuses on Rod and Coney, two rotund, charismatic artists who refuse to let the pandemic get in the way
Seasoned stylist Kate Young never arrives at any event unprepared. Whether it’s the red carpet, a shoot, or a press funcOn the seventh episode of Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, Young shares some of the essentials she places inside every travel bag, along with insider
Debates about whether encyclopedic museums—institutions that collect and contextualize cultural artifacts across time an—should act as more than mere repositories date back decades, but have taken on a new urgency as of late. Now, institutioEp. 12 of our At a Distance podcast), tackled these topics through interviews with nearly 30 leaders, and compiled the conversations in a new book, Under Discussion: The Encyclopedic Museum (Getty Publications). We recently spoke with Grau about the future of institutions and the layered, ever-evolving narra What central issues do encyclopedic museums face today, and what prompted you to explore them?
When attending runway shows, stylist Kate Young keeps her eyes peeled for premiere dresses—gowns to be worn by actressesOn the sixth episode of her YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, Young talks about her process for selecting and securing premiere dresses, and highlights f
New York–based stylist Kate Young devotes her YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, to explaining the ins and outs of celebrity styling. Her wide-ranging explorations about whOn the series’ fifth episode, Young answers various audience questions, submitted in the comments section of her YouTube channel and on her Instagram.
The Covid-19 pandemic, by its very nature, has led to a universal turning toward—or even retreating to—home. The very noTadao Ando: Living With Light (Rizzoli), out this week, that presents 11 extraordinary residential projects designed by the Japanese architect, who has created more than 100 ho
Frustrated by the high cost of wellness in America, Brooklyn-based journalist Annie Daly set out to find meaningful alteDestination Wellness: Global Secrets for Better Living Wherever You Are (Chronicle Prism), out May 11. What may sound like a travel writer’s cushy, decidedly pre-Covid boondoggle in fact offer
Italian jewelry designer Elsa Peretti, who passed away on March 18, is a constant inspiration to stylist Kate Young’s lifourth episode of her YouTube show, Hello Fashion, created with The Slowdown, surveying some of the brilliant things Peretti made in her lifetime. Young begins by discu
The British-born, Brooklyn-based philosopher Simon Critchley has no shortage of interests. He’s written, in his refreshiThe New York Times, where he moderates its contemporary thinkers opinion forum, The Stone. For his forthcoming book, Bald (Yale University Press), out April 27, Critchley—who teaches philosophy at The New School for Social Research, and was tEp. 42 of our Time Sensitive podcast and Ep. 3 of our At a Distance podcast—compiled 35 of his favorite Times essays, forming an engaging series of short reads that suggest new ways of understanding the world. We recently spoke w