A Conversation With Art Advisor Caroline Bøge

In a series of interviews, we zoom in on a selection of people who literally put art first, letting their lives unfold with, in-between and through art. The Art First Series features strong voices who share their ideas about why art matters to them, having become a crucial part of their existence. By introducing a new way to think and speak about art, Art First seeks to foster a new conversation about art and its vital importance in today's society.

Venue: Brönnums Hus & Harsdorffs Hus Office Club, Kongens Nytorv, Copenhagen. Photo: Amanda Hestehave

Why do we need art in our lives?
Imagine a world without it! No literature, no music, no theater, no films, no paintings, sculptures, photographs etc. etc. Without art and culture, I believe the human race would be an uninspiring and narrow-minded bunch. 

Art is not merely a means for enjoyment and entertainment. It is a catalyst for thinking, feeling and reflecting, and I would argue that art makes us both wiser as well as more creative and empathetic. To see the world through the prism of art is to allow oneself to see other perspectives—to observe the world from multiple angles and broaden our horizons culturally and intellectually. 

What does it mean to be an art consultant today? How would you like to contribute to the art world?
In Denmark, an ‘art advisor’ is a relatively new phenomenon, whereas in an international context, it is as common to consult an art advisor as it is to seek advice in other aspects of life. 

To me, being an art advisor means that I am always on the look-out on behalf of my clients. I use my knowledge and expertise to investigate the market across both domestic and international galleries to find just the right works. I always strive to introduce my clients to work that challenges them somehow, as I believe that works of art that offer some resistance are often the ones people tend to be more attached to in the end. Of course, I also do the due diligence part of the job, as it is a both challenging and time-consuming to navigate the global art market and keep up with recent developments and results. In order to stay on top of things, I travel regularly for art fairs, biennials and exhibition openings, and I also travel with my clients to the fairs etc. In addition to my art advisory services, I have the pleasure of working directly with a select group of contemporary artists: Malene Landgreen, Kirstine Roepstorff, Lea Guldditte Hestelund, Mille Kalsmose, and Sophie Dupont, and I enjoy the direct contact with these artist very much as well.

My personal motivation is to introduce my clients to art and artists they would most likely not come across otherwise and through that help to expand their cultural horizon – and my own as well. 

Venue: Brönnums Hus & Harsdorffs Hus Office Club, Kongens Nytorv, Copenhagen. Photo: Amanda Hestehave

Which difference does it make for you to be surrounded by art on a daily basis?
I come from a background where art was at the heart of everything, and I feel very privileged to have been given the solid foundation of art and culture on which I stand. My father is an artist, and my parents ran their Galerie 2112 for over a decade whilst I was growing up, so art is in my blood, so to speak. I hope that my work in the art world will generate true appreciation of art in others as well. I am a firm believer that engaging with art make us more open and curious, and it is my experience that once you start taking an interest in art there is no going back. A healthy obsession!

Can you recall any particular art experience that literally changed the way you perceive the world and live your life?
Although I am fortunate to experience great art on a regular basis, and am constantly inspired by the many groundbreaking artworks and exhibitions I see, a personal life changing art experience goes back to my time in the ballet. 

I am a trained ballet dancer and was educated at the Royal Danish Ballet, where I was also part of the company for some years in my youth. Although I was born and raised with contemporary art, seeing the ballet Romeo and Juliet was like an epiphany to me. I was a student at the ballet school, when I saw the ballet for the first time, and it confirmed to me that I was on the right path. The combination of the Shakesperian tragedy told through Prokofiev’s masterly music, Neumeier’s beautiful choreography and Jürgen Rose’s minimal scenography touched me on a deeper level that sparked my ambition and made me work like never before. Unfortunately, my ambition became my Waterloo, since I simply pushed myself too much and had to let go of the dream in the end. But the artistic experience of that ballet sits with me to this day. It made me understand how art can offer an alternative space that transcends yourself.

Venue: Brönnums Hus & Harsdorffs Hus Office Club, Kongens Nytorv, Copenhagen. Photo: Amanda Hestehave

If you had the political power, how would you like to bring about change in the art world?
I would work to place art and culture on the agenda as a core value of society. Oftentimes art is considered the icing on the cake that can be spared when times are tough. It seems to be forgotten that culture is part of our very foundation, identity formation and collective memory. Art is important not only for individual enrichment and edification, but as a kind of social glue. In 2016, Italy’s former prime minister Matteo Renzi sent a clear message when he, ten days after the terror attack in Paris, declared that young Italian citizens from then on would receive 500 euros on their 18th birthday to spend on art experiences. In this example, a person in power sends a signal that culture is an essential value – and tool – in our social construction; that art is important to every single one of us. 

Venue: Brönnums Hus & Harsdorffs Hus Office Club, Kongens Nytorv, Copenhagen. Photo: Amanda Hestehave

Rise above logical sense for a moment and pretend that you could spend one day visiting your favourite art spots with one person, dead or alive, who has influenced your passion for art. Where would you go? With whom? And why?
A guided trip by James Turell of the Roden Crater in Arizona would be pretty high on my list! I have always admired Tyrell’s work, and to experience the drama of light, landscape and celestial activity in such an incredible site would be an out of this world experience. 

A more personal wishful scenario would be an afternoon at Thorvaldsen’s Museum together with my first art history teacher, the late Ole Nørlyng. Not only is Thorvaldsens Museum in my opinion one of the most beautiful museums in Denmark, but it is also the place I first learned about art history. Ole Nørlyng taught music and art history at the ballet school and he took us to Thorvaldsens Museum over and over again. Ole was a walking encyclopedia, who had a real talent for unfolding the stories and myths about the sculptures that made the museum even more magical, and he made me appreciate not only the artworks themselves, but also the historical importance of their existence. It would be a beautiful thing to go back to an afternoon at the museum with him and thank him for what he has taught me. If I could bring Benjamin Buchloh into the mix, it would be a perfect day! Buchloh later became my teacher at Harvard University, and his knowledge about modern and contemporary art and theory is unmatched. To be flanked by those two gentlemen in my favorite museum would be unparalleled.