Few artists are household names like Warhol, Basquiat, or Picasso. But if Hollywood’s top talent agencies are anything to go by, today’s artists can have more of that kind of appeal by taking advantage of the full spectrum of their creative endeavors.
Earlier this year, United Talent Agency, one of the big three talent agencies, announced that it will open a three-story showroom in Atlanta in early 2023. The move is not UTA’s first in the industry. In 2015, the mega agency created an art division and built a showroom in Los Angeles the following year. In addition to leading entertainment deals for emerging artists, Among the artists featured there are Derrick Adams, Ai Weiwei, Petra Cortright, Ferrari Sheppard, Conrad Egyir, Enrique Martínez Celaya, and Mandy El-Sayegh.
After a solo show at the UTA Artist Space in Los Angeles earlier this year, Martínez Celaya officially joined the agency. To begin with, he plans to pursue the publication of his book, and then turn the book into a film. The agency also presents him with other game-changing opportunities from gigs to fashion collaborations.
Although Martínez Celaya’s relationship with UTA is relatively new, he feels that the opportunities it creates will be many, especially with projects that go beyond the art world. “I’ve got really good libraries, but I know that some of the projects that I want to do are almost out of what a gallery can do,” he said.
UTA’s Atlanta business is a continuation of this type of effort, but on a larger scale. As Arthur Lewis, partner and creative director of UTA Fine Arts, said ARTnews, the overall plan is “bigger than the artist’s space.” UTA wants to repeat what it is already doing with its artists in LA, which is to bring Hollywood art and art to Hollywood, while managing collaborations between artists and the wider sector of TV, film , Atlanta music and sports professionals. By investing in the visual arts, Lewis thinks UTA can help Atlanta become a “cultural barometer for the world,” he said.
“A lot of our customers are really there,” Lewis added. “There are many different industries there, [so] we saw that as an opportunity to further expand our organization.”
While UTA may have the splashiest current operation, two other top talent agencies—Creative Artists Agency and Endeavor—have also turned their attention to artists. In 2016, Endeavor, led by Ari Emmanuel, a collector in his own right who previously sat on the board of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, announced a partnership with Frieze, taking a large part in the magazine art of London based in London. and its global art operations, which have expanded from London and New York to Los Angeles and Seoul in the years since its acquisition. And CAA has been selling deals to artists who want to break into movies and TV for more than a decade. They are waiting for Julian Schnabel to perform The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007). The agency also manages online transactions for artists and has started development on the NFT platform.
The main template of the artist-Hollywood crossover may be Arthur Jafa, who won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale of 2019. He rose to the top of the art world after the 2016 debut of Love is a Message, a Message is Death, his seven-minute video film on the beauty and suffering of Black life, captivated New York audiences with lines around the block. Watched four days after the US Presidential election, the video struck a chord with those trying to come to grips with what Trump’s victory means for America – Black America, in particular. Soon after, CAA offered to help Jafa pursue his future projects in film, directing and writing.
UTA’s Atlanta project, however, may indicate a shift in the complexity of such transactions. In addition to being a major television center due to its many tax incentives, Atlanta is also home to the headquarters of Microsoft and Google and the Atlanta University Center, a conglomerate of HBCUs including Morehouse and Spelman Colleges, which have long supported. , studied, and collected Black art.
There is no doubt that the city “is ready to host something like that,” said art consultant Jeremiah Ojo. Not just because it has “millions of people passing through [city’s] he continued, but there are also “other great forces that have been built to bring more people to Atlanta.”
While UTA’s overall investment in Atlanta is still largely about jobs, Lewis said the firm will begin sponsoring arts events in the city later this year. Jonathan TD Neil, co-founder of Inversion Art, an art service and investment firm, said that for its investment to have a real impact on Atlanta’s culture, it “will have to be done as a collective effort.” joint ten years. ” Part of that includes “finding a way to bring together people from other arts institutions,” in a way that “leads [cultural] conversation.”
“Recognizing that Atlanta is this center of Black culture and talent, [UTA] you can get the latest big things that are happening,” Ojo added.
Until now, UTA and CAA have focused on deals for artists who are already stars, such as Takashi Murakami or Ai Weiwei. Historically, these deals are the most profitable for them. But a new type of artist, whether emerging or established, is also beginning to rise; who wants to “be a 360 brand,” said Ojo. Organizations can manage projects for many people who are eager to enter other markets, from traditional to NFTs, and everything in between.
Another obstacle to this strategy is that the art world operates under a “scarcity model,” with a limited number of works going to institutions or to a select few elite collectors, Ojo said.
For organizations, managing this concept of access can be difficult. In the eyes of Hollywood, the art world “still feels very marginalized,” Nguyen said, noting that organizations like his “want to democratize the arts. We’re interested in reaching the 99 percent.”
From a business perspective, UTA’s art space in Atlanta can function in a similar way to the one in Los Angeles, serving as a meeting place for the two industries. When artist Arcmanoro Niles exhibited there two years ago, the dinner UTA organized to celebrate the exhibition brought together “high-profile collectors, many art people, and interested Hollywood people of art,” Lewis said. For local artists, Ojo predicted that this means UTA offers an opportunity to raise “the standard of what artistic support can look like.”
And it is in a traditional way and in another way. Although organizations have been involved in the art world for years now, UTA’s latest efforts show a deep commitment to the field. Thus, it is still an open question how the institution’s involvement in the art world will actually emerge.
Finally, Martínez Celaya predicts that “there will be other forms that will appear in the world,” he said, “because this shows the possibility of what the relations of the type of organizations can do.”
One full-service artist representation firm, in particular, has entered the field. Marine Tanguy founded MTart seven years ago with the goal of disrupting the traditional image management system. A retail firm offers services such as retail operations, curation, or public relations. With offices in Paris, London and Monaco, Tanguy plans to open in Los Angeles next year. One of the center’s latest projects includes bringing a painting by artist Lorenzo McQueen to the public art stage of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The goal, Tanguy said, is “to fill 360 where the house is; this is what they do everywhere.”
Ultimately, talent agents insist they pose no threat to art dealers. They see themselves as wanting to support different types of stories. “There are a lot of young artists who are already in these different genres,” Lewis said. “They are good storytellers. And we want different good stories to tell. ”