There seems to be a misunderstanding with many people about how to make good connections. Younger artists, including myself at one point, always ask for advice on how to thrive in the art world and meet the right people to work with. The answer has and will always be the same: be yourself, surround yourself with people you enjoy being around, and go places where you want to be. A few years ago, I had the good fortune of attending a wedding party for two curators and collectors with Francisco Moreno, an artist friend visiting New York City from Dallas who had his work in their collection. It was there I met Yassana Croizat-Glazer of YCG Fine Art, who has been my art advisor for almost three years now.
Yassana Croizat-Glazer started YCG Fine Art in 2017, which is an advisory specializing in European art from the 15th to the 19th centuries and in contemporary art. Croizat-Glazer received her Ph.D. in art history from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. Between her Ph.D. and advisory, she has taught several courses on Renaissance and Baroque art and architecture at NYU’s Department of Art History. In 2010, she was named a Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts (ESDA). She then served as a Research Associate and Assistant Curator from 2011–2014. Though her time working directly for the museum has passed, you may see her giving private tours, like the one A Women’s Thing attended last fall called “Women Rule!”
Now that Croizat-Glazer has partnered with A Women’s Thing to create Past Matters, a column that examines connections between human experiences in the past and the present using art as a lens, we took this opportunity to interview Croizat-Glazer on her practice and perspective on the current art market.
Morgan Everhart: When focusing on specific artworks in your writings, as seen in this video with The Metropolitan Museum of Art or through your Instagram, you introduce personal and universal connotations, which then lays the groundwork for your readers and listeners to engage more with the artist and their greater historical contexts. Do you have a method for dissecting an artwork? What role do your personal experiences play when looking at art?
Yassana Croizat-Glazer: Every work of art has what I think of as a “point of entry”—something that piques my curiosity, arrests my eye, or strikes me on an emotional level. It might be a figure’s gesture, the pattern on a cloth, the way a brushstroke is applied slightly differently in a corner, or even something remarkable about the medium. So I’m always intuitively searching for a point of entry when I’m looking at a work of art. Once I’ve found it, then I start constructing a narrative around the object drawing on its appearance, its history, etc. Many things about a work of art are entirely objective (it’s a painting, it’s made on canvas, it has a sky painted blue, etc.), but the way its narrative is presented is absolutely subjective. Even if you are only relaying facts, the facts you include or omit stem from subjective choices. Of course, this means that different people with different life experiences have different points of entry into objects, and I find it fascinating to listen to more than one voice speak about the same work. There is always something new to be discovered that way, not only about the art but about my own mode of thinking. More and more kinds of voices may be heard today, and it’s my hope that this phenomenon will only increase as we move forward.
Tell us about the private tour themed “Women rule!” that you give at the MET.
I absolutely love giving tours at the Met; I used to be a curator there, so it’s a place that I know very well. I wanted to give my clients something engaging and special by articulating the tours I offer according to themes that I think are interesting and have far-reaching appeal. “Women Rule!” is my favorite one. It focuses on the remarkable ways women have contributed to the history of art, whether as collectors, subjects, creators, or trendsetters. Power, beauty and severed heads are but some of the topics I touch upon during this visit, highlights of which include an exquisite mask from the Kingdom of Benin representing Queen Mother Iyoba, a very special desk made for Queen Marie-Antoinette of France and a poignant portrayal of Esther by Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi. While I’m always thrilled to give this tour, it’s been especially amazing to give it to groups of women looking to bond over a different kind of experience.
You are an advisor specializing in European art from the 15th to the 19th centuries that also represents contemporary artists. How does your background in European art affect your selections of contemporary artists?
Some people feel very strongly committed to one artistic period or movement, on which they prefer to concentrate solely. I’m of a kind who is more intellectually promiscuous. This being said, while I gravitate toward all kinds of art, I do have a particular affinity for Early Modern European art, and this affinity tends to inform the type of contemporary art I represent. Take your work, for instance, Morgan. One of the things that first attracted me to your bold floral compositions is how thoroughly well-versed in historical flower painting you are, and how this emerges in subtle yet meaningful ways in your paintings. Since then, I’ve come to learn that your interest in art history is both broad and deep and that you are skilled at using it to nurture your creativity. For example, two of my favorite works by you, “And they are beasts” and “One cannot look,” are both based on prints from Goya’s Disasters of Wars series. Relying on your own hauntingly beautiful vocabulary, you interpret Goya’s vision of human fragility in an entirely personal—and fresh—manner. The other artists I am privileged to work with also connect to the past in very thoughtful ways. Jane Banks has been painting a series of heads based on photos of catalog models, and both her technical skill and cropping choices result in startling portraits that call to mind the work of Renaissance artists such as Hans Holbein. Dutch Baroque art, especially the work of Pieter de Hooch, has made a strong impression on Allen Hirsch, as revealed in his highly sensitive treatment of light and space in his landscapes, figural scenes, and portraits.
Because of COVID-19, many art galleries and institutions are moving to virtual galleries, similar to your online exhibitions of artists that you started about two years ago with your feature of my own work. What are the advantages and disadvantages of running a primarily online advisory?
The greatest advantage of having a virtual gallery is freedom. It makes it possible to feature artists and curate shows without having to worry about a variety of constraints, including space, and to make changes easily. Virtual content also has the potential to reach a much wider audience. The greatest disadvantage is not having a physical space in which to show works of art when the need arises, but there are many ways to overcome this issue. One way is to invite the client directly to the artist’s studio, which both parties generally like because it gives them an opportunity to get to know each other. I’ve also had friends lend me their galleries to show works of art on occasion. Doing special events in interesting spaces is another great way to circumvent the lack of a physical gallery.
What are some of the opportunities and challenges of working with contemporary art, as opposed to working with Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo art?
Working with contemporary artists is always exhilarating, never dull. I have tremendous respect for the artists I represent and value them not only as creators but as human beings too, so my life has been incredibly enriched through knowing them. I love that we can talk about anything and everything together and that I get to be a front-row spectator to their creative process, and sometimes even a sounding board. There are few things more thrilling and informative than getting to watch an artist make their art. Obviously, I can’t get that experience with artists who have been gone for centuries. With older art, a lot of time is devoted to research, even at times for basic facts like authorship, subject matter, provenance, etc. For that, I have to channel my inner sleuth, which I find incredibly satisfying, even if sometimes clues may be scarce.
Do you think a contemporary artist must look at other artists in their period to be relevant? What makes an artist relevant?
I strongly believe that what makes an artist relevant is authenticity. While it’s definitely important to be aware of what’s going on in the (art) world, artists shouldn’t be so caught up in what everyone else is doing that it runs the risk of stifling their instincts. Influence always plays a role in amazing art—even in art that seems to break away completely from tradition—but it’s up to individual artists to assess what that means for them. In other words, they shouldn’t be afraid to enter into a visual dialogue with their peers but nor should they think twice about accepting inspiration from unexpected things, places, peoples, and times. As far as I’m concerned, the only rule for relevancy is: don’t try to be somebody else—imposters are a bore.
Where do you see the art market going in the next 5–10 years?
As the current COVID-19 pandemic proves, change can happen very quickly and very dramatically. I anticipate that the art market will be going strong five to ten years from now, although there will be far fewer physical galleries and an even stronger online presence from dealers, advisors, auction houses, etc.
With that rise of technology and art becoming more accessible virtually, do you also see the demand growing? Are more people interested in art and buying original works?
All kinds of art are more accessible than ever, and I believe that that the clientele for online acquisitions is growing, especially when it comes to lesser value works. This being said, in my experience, people can easily be overwhelmed by the amount of art on offer and feel hesitant to buy because they don’t know where to begin and are worried about being unhappy with their purchases. This is one of the instances in which having an advisor can be really helpful because then you have a great deal of expertise at your disposal, and that can make buying with confidence easier. I listen to my clients very carefully so that I have a thorough understanding of what they are looking for and what their needs are. Instead of spending hours sifting through all that’s available out there, I do the searching for them and present them with options that meet their goals and budget. Interacting with auction houses across the world can also be very time consuming; some people choose to have someone with their best interest at heart handle that type of communication on their behalf, and that’s another form of assistance I provide. The bottom line is that while the internet is an extraordinary resource for buying amazing art from artists, dealers, auction houses, etc., it is also a space in which the potential for disappointment is great, and so having the guidance of a trusted advisor can be immensely useful.