The best gifts art world insiders have ever given, from a revered old master painting to a cheeky hat
Welcome to The 12 Days of Artmas, our new, non-denominational Christmas party – an Advent calendar with gift ideas and stories for art lovers of all stripes, which is published daily until December 24th.
To inspire your search for the perfect gift, we asked people from around the art world which inspirational gifts they are most proud of. Here’s what they told us.
Bernard Lumpkin, collector
The best gift that I was grateful to share with the art world and beyond is the book Young, talented and black: a new generation of artists, edited by my friend and colleague Antwaun Sargent and edited by DAP. Now in its third edition, the book celebrates artists, curators and critics who are reshaping the way we think about race and representation. They have taught me so much and I keep paying by sharing their voices and visions with others.
Neil Hamamoto, artist
As the creative director of the not-for-profit Worthless Studios in Brooklyn, I published two black and white photo books last year: Free film: June 2020 and Free movie USA. The books were released in 2021 and it was a fantastic gift. Each book shares images from analog photographers from around the world on pressing issues that I believe are beneficial from multiple perspectives.
Alia Al-Senussi, collector
I love to share experiences so it might sound selfish, but the best gift I have ever given someone else was for myself too. I brought my friends to Marfa who Clearing crater, that Lightning field, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Korea – and each time it was a bespoke itinerary with all sorts of local touchpoints and eccentricities. And actually those routes are then relayed and passed down far and wide, so maybe they are the best gift?
Bringing my mother back to Egypt after leaving 30 years earlier was insanely special, as was being able to take her to Siwa, where I began my artistic life and just a stone’s throw away from Libya (where I also use her for the first time). In fact, visiting Libya with my mother helped me break the facade of sadness and really get a sense of wonder and hope in a people who had been brutalized for far too long.
Claire Sherman, artist
I recently spent time creating a digital archive for my family. My great-grandfather, Cortis Harvey Galbraith, was a photographer in Minneapolis. He toured Minnesota between 1890 and 1940 taking photos for families, and some of the photos in the archive are from glass plates I scanned from his collection. My favorites are the pictures he took of his own family and places he loved in northern Minnesota, where our family still get together every summer.
Natacha Polaert, gallery owner
The best gift I have ever given are kisses to my beloved.
Vicky Chen, gallery owner
A gift to myself: a few years ago, on my birthday, I spontaneously jumped on a plane to New York just to see the last day of one of my favorite artist’s solo shows and flew straight to Miami to enjoy the sun and art enjoy Basel.
Lawrence Van Hagen, consultant
Last Christmas I gave my top customers a suede hat that the artist Stefan BrÃ¼ggemann and I designed especially as a Christmas present. Stefan is known for his text images, all of which are written in arial black letters. During the pandemic, Stefan began using the tagline “ONLINE DISCONNECTED” in his paintings, and the phrase soon became an iconic emblem as the world navigated from one lockdown to the next and many of us could only stay connected with our loved ones online . I thought the parody was brilliant and asked Stefan if we could draft something together with the sentence on it. He loved the idea and we developed the coolest suede cap with the slogan written on the front in his signature style. My friends and customers liked it so much. I still often meet them on the street and find them wearing them.
Fabrizio Moretti, dealer
The announcement, a painting by Pieter de Witte, better known as Pietro Candido, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in honor of Keith Christiansen.
Dan Palmer, curator
Awol Erizku I gave Awol Erizku a forged iron key from Zanzibar from the early 19th century on the occasion of our joint exhibition âNew Visions for Irisâ. I scoured the city with my wife and asked our favorite antique dealer to find just the right one. The gift has a deeply personal meaning to me and Awol, which I hope will show my gratitude for our dialogue and serve as a special token of our cooperation and friendship.
Alia Williams, dealer
A good art book, like Unrealism or Black futures, always hits the right note. I also love giving away a beautiful bouquet of flowers for any occasion.
Previous stories in this series:
Who could not use the gift advice from the cosmos? We consulted 5 experts in the arts and astrology
If you are looking for a fragrance to give away, we recommend a bottle of Chanel No. 5 – an icon and artist muse that is celebrating its 100th anniversary
Are you still shopping for the art and fashion lovers in your life? Check out this chic museum merch (Think The Met x Brother Vellies)
For travelers, consider Virgil Abloh-designed luggage that reinterprets Louis Vuitton’s legacy
On the first day of Artmas, my true love gave me … a step-by-step guide on how to gift an NFT
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