YASMINE MOHSENI INTERVIEW
Yasmine Mohseni is an independent arts curator, writer and speaker based in Los Angeles, Paris and Santa Barbara. Her first job in the art world was as a press intern at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris where she was able to walk around the museum when it was closed and pretend she had her own private collection of Degas, Manets and Monets! From there, she bounced around the globe, got a Masters at Bard College in New York, covered art fairs in Basel, Dubai, London and Miami for various magazines and worked as a curator for galleries and non profits in Los Angeles.
Today, Yasmine juggles curatorial projects, art writing and speaking engagements, all of which are incredibly rewarding and always an adventure. She has collaborated on curatorial projects with Christie’s and Vanity Fair; and has published in magazines such as The Art Newspaper, Beautiful/Decay, BlackBook, Canvas, Modern Painters, Newsweek and Whitewall.
AND If you love art as much as I do- please check out Yasmine's column Beyond the White Cube (BTWC) for the Huffington Post. She features interviews and photos of young artists in their studios, providing a behind-the-scenes peek at the richly diverse contemporary art world and will soon begin featuring collectors and curators so stay tuned!
Greatest inspirations or influences?
Well, my mom, for sure. When I was little, she dragged me to amazing museums like the Uffizi and the Louvre. One day, I stopped fighting it, took a look around and caught the art bug. I’ve been hooked ever since. Being around dynamic and creative people always inspires and influences me. I was in awe when I visited Frida Kahlo’s house in Mexico city and Saint Laurent’s place in Marrakech: the thoughtful way in which they each designed their lives and aesthetics was very influential to me. I’m especially drawn to work by female artists. I still remember the first time I saw Shirin Neshat’s work, it was at the Guggenheim in New York in 1997 and it had a huge impact on me. I just saw the show In Wonderland at the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA) and teared up a bit when I saw Frida Kahlo’s work, her talent is deeply inspiring, both in terms of her technique and her capacity to communicate emotion. I find the SF-based Iraqi artist Hayv Kahraman very inspiring. I also love the Mulleavy sisters (Rodarte), they’re 2 super down to earth LA girls who possess this fantastic talent. Two people who I consider role models and my intellectual crushes are Michael Govan, the director of LACMA, and Arianna Huffington. On a daily basis, my husband inspires me, as do all my friends and family.
Up and coming favorite artists or creatives you like?
I’m going to try very hard not to write an encyclopedia here! Many of the artists I work with are on the West Coast, and there are so many talented ones. I’m very drawn to a sophisticated and straight-forward aesthetic. In other words, I respond to artists who have mastered their chosen medium and know how to manipulate it and push it to its boundaries.
- Rosson Crow’s latest show, which I reviewed for the May issue of Modern Painters, is awesome because she went outside of her comfort zone and pushed herself in a totally different direction.
- Someone like painter Asad Faulwell spends hours painting gorgeous intricate patterns, which requires incredible mental and physical discipline.
- Mark Schoening creates controlled chaos like no one else.
- Robert Minervini’s paintings are like going on a trip through time only to end up in the future: he borrows from art history’s greats like Hans Holbein and Salvador Dali to produce totally new and inventive work.
- A few other young artists I love are (in no particular order) Alika Cooper, Stephanie Pryor, Sarah Cain, Sherin Guirguis, Francesca Gabbiani, Frohawk Two Feathers, Nathan Hayden, Stephanie Dotson, Zoulikha Bouabdellah, Jon Pylypchuk, Jennifer West, Lara Schnitger and Ry Rocklin
.Rosson Crow's Studio ( with work for Zac Posen) photo by Yasmine Mohseni
Favorite websites, blogs, publications?
For work, I spend a lot of time reading everything from the NY Times, The Economist and Le Figaro to Flash Art, Art Info and Connaissance des arts. I’m literally reading all the time. So, in my off hours, I grab the Ipad and read all sorts of fashion, design and food blogs: my 4 favorite go-to blogs are The Sartorialist, Garance Dore, French by Design and You Are the River. I also love Goop, The Selby, Man Repeller and Ninunina – of course! A friend recently introduced me to her friend’s blog called Trail of Crumbs, about a foodie couple’s gourmet travels around the world, that one’s a lot of fun.
What are some of the less obvious differences between the art world in the east and west coast?
Not sure what the obvious ones are but I feel that the West Coast art vibe is much more organic and homegrown. There’s a freedom and fearlessness that encourages experimentation, which doesn’t exist as much in New York. New York’s art world has a strong hierarchy and tradition and it’s still very much the center of art commerce, but I’m not sure it’s the center of contemporary creativity. A collector once told me that LA is where the art is created and New York is where it’s sold. That might be a tad reductive but I understand his point.
Up and coming shows you are curating?
I have quite a few projects coming up but there’s only one I can talk about right now! I’m opening a show on July 21 at Marine Salon in Venice, California. This beautiful private exhibition space is run by art dealer Claressinka Anderson and emphasizes viewing and considering contemporary art within a domestic setting. For our first collaboration, we’re presenting a group of artists whose work engages in a craft tradition, where the artist's hand is visible in each work. Exhibiting artists include Alika Cooper, Stephanie Dotson, Nathan Hayden, Ry Rocklin and Tanya Aguiniga.
How would you describe the current state of contemporary art?
Art today is no longer relegated to the ivory tower, it’s everywhere: from street art to innovative galleries. Contemporary art is always reinventing itself; there really is something for everyone, just keep looking around until you find your flavor.
Anything else youd like to share with our audience?
It takes time to train your eye and understand what you like and don’t like so, if you’re interested in art but aren’t sure where to begin, go to as many art events as possible. And email me, I’m always down to hit an opening!
Scarlett Johansson at Pieces of Heaven Auction with Vanity Fair, curated by Yasmine Mohseni