Los Angeles Art Advisor Robert Galstian Shares What He’s Looking at Right Now
Plus, he gives his two-cents for first-time collectors.
Everyone may jabber about the fast pace of the art world, but for Robert Galstian, a Los Angeles-based art advisor, the key to successful collecting is learning to take one’s time. A New York native, born into a family of collectors, Galstian doesn’t remember a time before his life was enmeshed with the cultural sphere. “I began to develop an eye at an earlier age because of it,” he said.
Outside of advising, Galstian is also an active arts patron—with the University of Southern California’s Roski School of Art and Design, the MAK Center, and LACE, among others—and considers Galstian Advisory‘s deep roots in the Los Angeles cultural community as one of its defining characteristics.
Recently we caught up with the ear-to-the-ground advisor, who shared his tips on starting a collection along with a bevy of hidden gems and must-see shows dotted throughout Los Angeles.
On Los Angeles’s Can’t-Miss Museum Shows This Fall
Leading Galstian’s exhibition calendar is the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art’s “Open House: Gala Porras-Kim,” an exhibition celebrating the museum’s 40th anniversary. “This is the show’s second iteration—the first was curated by Elliot Hundley in the spring. He chose 40 works from the collection, most of which had never been exhibited before,” Galstian said. Now it’s Gala Porras-Kim’s chance to cull her selection of rarely seen treasures. “There is an incredible richness of the permanent collection,” Galstian said.
But he’s not done with MOCA yet. Also on his radar is the upcoming “With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985,” which reexamines the role of decorative art during the reign of Minimalism. “I can’t wait to see this one, honestly. We don’t see enough of this kind of show,” he said.
Meanwhile, over at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Galstian says he’ll be sure to visit exhibitions of Julie Mehretu and Do Ho Suh.
On What Makes the Los Angeles Art Scene Unique
The sheer number of art schools in and around the city define Los Angeles as something special for the art world, according to this well-versed advisor. “We sometimes forget about the amount of art being created around us. It’s good to go see what the students are doing. I think it’s so energizing,” said Galstian. He’s also involved with the Roski School of Art and Design at the University of Southern California, which has been undergoing some changes of its own.
“The school recently opened an off-campus building in the Arts District for the graduate art and design students, which is great,” said Galstian. “I’m seeing a lot of creativity and enthusiasm coming out of the school. The new dean is definitely on to something great!”
On How a New Collector Should Get Started
Galstian believes slow and steady wins the race. “Take your time and see as much as your can before you pull the trigger and make your first purchase,” he advised. “I think it’s really important you develop your eye and, within time, you can learn to sort out what you love from what you like and what you don’t like.”
On What to Do When You’re Ready to Buy
“You should always buy the best you can afford. We don’t all have unlimited funds, but if you buy the best you can afford you know you’re on your way to building a nice collection,” said Galstian. He also recommends finding a curatorial focus. “Whether you’re supporting emerging artists or mid-career artists or female artists, what have you, a baseline and sense of cohesion is nice. And remember you can always purchase a one-off as well.”
On His Perfect Art-Seeing Day
Map out a neighborhood of galleries or start with your can’t-miss spot and see what else is nearby, recommends Galstian. If Beverly Hills is your haunt, he recommends a first stop at Gagosian with the nearby E. Baldi as his recommended lunch spot. “It’s a great place to talk as well as people watch,” he said. Head to Culver City next where you can scope out the offerings at Blum and Poe and Honor Fraser, as well as two of his favorite galleries with younger programs—Luis de Jesus and Anat Ebgi.
In Hollywood he recommends the galleries off La Brea. “The Turrell Conference Room is definitely a special treat at Kayne Griffin Corcoran, not to mention the gorgeous Mary Corse sculpture in their garden,” said Galstian. Kordansky, ltd los angeles, Karma International, Matthew Brown, and Shulamit Nazarian are also on his list of must-sees in the area
On Where to End the Day
The Chateau Marmont can do no wrong. “The Chateau is an icon that oozes with the glamour of Old Hollywood and it’s always a hit with out-of-towners,” he said. “There’s never a bad choice, whether you want to sit on the terrace or inside the dining room. It’s a wonderful place to end your day with your clients.”
On His Los Angeles Hidden Gem
He calls the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, “the best kept secret in the art world.” The dynamic West Hollywood space is centered at the historic Schindler House, an icon of early Modernist architecture, and includes two additional locations just minutes apart.
“The MAK Center hosts amazing performances, discussions, and some exhibitions that are just fantastic,” said Galstian. The organization also sponsors a number of events, including the MAK Games at the Sheats-Goldstein Residence and an exhibition by Todd Williamson, with whom Galstian has worked with closely. “The MAK Center was a presenting sponsor of Williamson’s show, ‘Processional,’ as part of the Venice Biennale collateral exhibitions happening right now, which is, incredibly, hosted at Vivaldi’s chapel on the Grand Canal. An original musical piece was composed by award-winning composer Greg Walter. Just in the first week alone we had more than 10,000 visitors.”
On The Little-Known Spanish Surrealist He’s Passionate About
Juan Antonio Guirado was a Spanish Surrealist who passed away several years ago without having fulfilled his dream of having an exhibition in California. “In his later years Guirado grew disenchanted with the art world and withdrew to his studio to create these amazing paintings,” said Galstian.
Collaborating with the artist’s daughter Catalina Guirado-Cheadle, they worked to make his wish a reality, pulling together a show in West Hollywood a few years back. And the reception? “It was incredible. ‘Who is he and why don’t I know him?’ was the sense,” said Galstian “So together we’ve decided to try to reintroduce him to the art world. Since then, Juan Antonio Guirado was recently honored by his hometown and has had several museum exhibitions in Spain and the US.”
On The Up-And-Coming Artist He’s Thinking About
Lately Galstian has been working with artist Andreas Stylianou, who is also an architect by training. “Andreas recently set up his artist’s studio and has been creating some wonderful paintings and drawings. He is also a collector who loves Pop Art and has been drawing inspiration from these artists.” Galstian has just launched an online exhibition of his recent works.
On His Weekend Escape (But With Plenty of Art)
With its change of pace but relative proximity to Los Angeles, Santa Barbara is Galstian’s ideal weekend away. But not without art, of course. “I love art so much that I could never really escape it. The Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art are both doing very exciting things,” he said. “And Santa Barbara is Santa Barbara with so many great restaurants and the nearby wineries to go and enjoy.”
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