Back in the ’90s Stefania Bortolami caught the eye of power gallerist Larry Gagosian, who poached her from London’s Anthony d’Offay Gallery so she could handle his own stable of artists. As Gagosian’s director, Bortolami worked with superstars like Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, earning her comparisons to the gallery’s namesake.
Armed with her innate business savvy, keen eye, and ability to nurture artists, Bortolami left with fellow Gagosienne Amalia Dayan in 2004 to open the now-defunct Bortolami Dayan Gallery. The two split when Dayan decided to start a family with her husband, collector and gallerist Adam Lindemann, and Bortolami decided to go at it on her own. For the last two years, Bortolami has been headquartered at a 6,200-square-foot space on West 20th Street in Manhattan, but that doesn’t mean she spends most of her time there.
The gallerist constantly flies around the globe to see her artists’ installations and to represent Bortolami gallery at the never-ending stream of international art fairs. Currently, her artists are all over the place — Aaron Young’s crushed car is on display in the James Franco-curated exhibition, “Rebel,” at Los Angeles’s MOCA, while Daniel Buren’s transparent discs add a bright dose of color to Paris’s Grand Palais for Monumenta 2012.
Bortolami’s jet-set lifestyle and close ties to the fashion world (her client list includes some key players) require both comfort and luxury, like easygoing Prada cashmere cardigans and decadent yet extremely practical velvet Stubbs & Wootton slippers. For this edition of the Tastemaker, Bortolami explains why she’s reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” and dishes on the Annick Goutal perfume she can’t live without.
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