artnet Asks: Davidoff Art Initiative’s Albertine Kopp

The Davidoff Art Initiative supports contemporary Caribbean artists.


Albertine Kopp is the manager of the Davidoff Art Initiative, an Associate Partner of Art Basel that supports contemporary artists in the Caribbean. A centerpiece of the program is the Davidoff Art Residency, which offers residency opportunities for Caribbean artists in leading artist residency programs worldwide, helping strengthen the dialogue between the Caribbean and the international art community. artnet News caught up with Kopp about the Art Initiative, Davidoff’s VIP lounge at Basel, and more. 

Can you talk a bit about the inspiration behind the Davidoff Art Initiative?
Davidoff Art Initiative is a new stage in the evolution of Davidoff’s cultural patronage, from art fair sponsorship to the encouragement and production of contemporary visual art. As Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard, CEO Oettinger Davidoff AG also mentioned, that it is simple to sign a check and be a partner of an art fair, but it needs much more to become an art patron. The initiative shows that we want to go further and engage with the art world. The initiative represents a considerable investment to engage with the world of contemporary art, specifically by helping to support the emergence and international visibility of contemporary art. Our ambition is to make a long lasting contribution to the contemporary art field, in particular in the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean region, where many of our products are cultivated and crafted. We want to support contemporary art and artists in the Caribbean, strengthen art organizations in the Dominican Republic, share knowledge and expertise about contemporary art, and foster cultural engagement between the Caribbean and the rest of the world.

Davidoff is running a VIP lounge at Art Basel this year – what can you tell us about it?
It is not really new. The relationship between Davidoff and Art Basel started in 2012. Davidoff, headquartered in Basel, originally found a natural partner in Art Basel, one of the world’s most prestigious art fairs.  Over the past year and in 2012, as Associate Partner of Art Basel (in Basel, Miami Beach and Hong Kong), Davidoff firmly established its presence in the art world, allowing it to move closer towards creating its unique, innovative, philanthropic initiative. We are present at all three shows with two VIP’s Lounge, an indoor and outdoor Lounge, where our clients can fill their time beautifully and discover our world. This year at Art Basel Hong Kong, we launched the first-ever Davidoff Limited Art Edition cigar boxes, featuring original commissioned artwork by the critically acclaimed Caribbean artist Quisqueya Henríquez. In addition, Henríquez was also invited to create a highly limited run of fifty Collectors Editions, which include the special edition box of cigars as well as an original artist’s print from the series of images developed for this project. These products will also be available at Davidoff’s Lounge in the Collectors Lounge at the Art Basel in Basel from June 17-22, 2014.

What’s special or unique about Dominican and Caribbean art that perhaps we don’t see in work coming out of other places?
The complexity and the creativity in the region. When you talk about the Caribbean – you are talking about 700 islands, 13 states and 17 dependent territories, and over 4 languages. By complexity, I mean exactly that. It is an intense mix and set of so many different cultures and histories. By creativity, I mean the freshness of the mix. Artists are inspired by South American, European, or African influence. Unfortunately in those region contemporary arts is still underdeveloped and under appreciated, due to a lake of mobility, infrastructure and education.

Do you have a favorite artist or work from that part of the world?
I am discovering everyday a new favorite artist….

Aside from preparing for Basel, what’s been keeping you busy lately?
Our two artist in residence, Jorge Pineda at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin and Pascal Meccariello at Red Gate Residency in Beijing. I want to be sure that all is set up, even if we are partnering with a residency. It means a lot to me, to know that they are feeling comfortable. Also, the dialogue program kept me busy. We had a beautiful Davidoff art afternoon with our partner Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. We hosted the second collectors talk, part of the series on “Art Collecting in China.” Finally not forgetting our studios in the Dominican Republic that are being built in this second. I can’t wait to offer to international artists the possibility to discover those regions. And, actually I always look around for new opportunities and ideas. Davidoff Art Initiative is a long-term project.

What was the last artwork that made you laugh out loud, and what was so funny about it?
During the Gallery Weekend Berlin at Sassa Trülzsch Gallery. Sassa showed a show by Klaus vom Bruch. The series was entitled “In the Future”… was great.

If you could live in any decade, which decade would it be and why?
As Gandhi said: “The future depends on what you do today.” Why should I live in another decade? I am happy to be in this decade and would not change anything.

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