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Marine Tanguy Interview

Illustration by Jemima Hooke

Following Marine Tanguy’s talk last month in collaboration with the Business of Art Society, we have asked her a few questions about how her company, MTArt, relates to our ever evolving world. Following the birth of the internet—what society believed was the start of new connectivity, equality, and technological advances to improve our lives—we are beginning to realise that these expansions are not always informing our development, but hindering it. While half the world’s population are benefiting from this increased connectivity, the other half is not. What are the repercussions of technological globalisation and how is it affecting the art world from artists to art dealers? Tanguy clarifies MTArt’s role as an artist agency in this evolution and gives us valuable insight into how we, the prevailing generation, should be getting involved in forwarding Art History into the next era.

1. What is MTArt, why did you start this company, and what are you hoping to achieve?

MTArt is the first artist agency in the world, we support and invest in a group of up and coming artists. Our motto is ‘Don’t Invest in Art, Invest in Artists’. I started the company as I wanted to find a business model which supported our generation of artists more strongly. We don’t just cover their studio costs every month, we also activate and develop a whole supportive network for them and generate a stream of continuous projects from exhibitions to public art projects. I have many hopes for the company and its legacy; I want to change the way we support artists and I want artists to be able to appeal for financial and promotional support more easily. I also want artists to become stronger visual influencers, engaging and inspiring bigger demographics which is why we are behind so many public art projects in London.

2. Why do you think it is important to invest in artists rather than artworks? And do you believe this is the future for the art market?

Artworks are just a glimpse into the vision of artists who rethink, challenge and enhance art history. Artists are the ones who deserve to be directly supported in their strive to inspire all of us. I can never get tired of visiting artists’ studios, being around their creative energies and the constant experimentation that they put their brain through. The art market is changing and so is art history. It is becoming more inclusive and has the power to inspire more people. We need to support more directly the ones who create this magic. Currently, artists do not benefit from the wider art market and are subject to too many instabilities generated by a non-regulated industry. They deserve better.

3. What is the criteria for artists wanting to be involved with MTArt?

We receive 200 portfolios a month. We choose our artists according to three main criterions:

- The first criterion is to be technically innovative, that is, using artistic mediums in ways that we haven’t seen before like the works of our artist Jasmine Pradissitto using quantum physics for her light sculptures.

- The second criterion is the content, that is we expect them to push a meaningful narrative – we have artists discussing sustainability, gender issues, social diversity etc… As our agency increases the influence of our artists and the number of people that they engage with, I take this responsibility seriously and only want to support very meaningful content that would add value to all of us.

- The final criterion is their personality. I do not want superficial and ego driven artists but instead I want 300% commitment, an amazing energy, resilience and a true passion. It shines through and it wins any project. It’s also such a pleasure to push such passionate people, they give you energy and inspiration constantly.

4. How are you involving new technologies (such as the virtual gallery space available on your website) to advance your artists and the audience’s interaction with art?

Our first hire was actually a digital manager who is still with us and called Fabio Tronchin. Together, we have made sure to leverage any available tech tools for our artists to develop projects and reach a bigger

visibility. Our artists have used the skills for digital video art and projections and as a company, we have pushed live streaming during our first art festival and a virtual gallery. Our motto with digital is simple: let’s use it to engage as many people as possible so that our artists get to inspire everyone!

5. How do you suggests students can get involved with investing in artists and do you think it would be a worthwhile investment?

While studying art history, students should be more aware of the artists themselves. They should take any opportunity to head to the artists’ studios, familiarise themselves with the voices of their generation and support them. It’s their future art history and our visual narrative.

Here is a text that we wrote as we started MTArt on our generation:

Investing in artists is supporting them all the way, by visiting the studios, supporting creative areas within cities and discussing their art constantly.

6. MTArt is currently investing in artists across the globe, do you believe that the art market is expanding at a rate that matches globalisation and our advancements in technology?

Absolutely. I think the art market and the way we design our art history is changing drastically. It used to be merely a luxury industry, a private non-regulated club and the recent conversations and projects gives me hope that art is soon going to be a much more global visual narrative for our times. I really hope so. And I hope, at this stage, to see artists inspiring us everywhere – from the urban realm to their own creative spaces. Our routine would benefit so much from having art around us! If we think of cities and our current ways obsessed with efficiency, we have never needed more the inspiration, imagination and visual challenges that artists and their projects can create for us.

7. What do investors get out of investing in MTArt’s selected artist?

My investors, eight of them, invested in MTArt last year in exchange for shares and profit within the overall company. They do not directly invest in a specific artist. However, collectors, businesses, and public bodies can invest in an artist more directly, by either buying a work of art or commissioning a project. We spend an enormous amount of time selecting our artists, but more importantly, we spend time and resources supporting them to grow after we work with them. Anyone who wishes to invest in those artists knows that we are working constantly to promote their career, and grow the artist. For example, our installation outside of London Bridge Station with artist Jennifer Abessira gets to see 150,000 people a day. Over the two months of installation, that’s almost 8 million people. The V&A Museum only sees 3.3 million people a year. Through our work we can significantly increase the exposure and growth of an artist. We, as MTArt, are the investors of this generation of artists and the influence they can obtain. As an investor, I get so much joy when I see them doing so well, people reacting towards their art and my artists helping us rethink the way we see the world. I hope more collectors, businesses, and public bodies can join us and do the same.

This article was first published in SEE:ONE, The Courtauldian’s printed publication. You can find the full first issue of SEE here:

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