To anyone with a bird’s eye view of Wendy Goldsmith’s life, the fact that she became a respected art collector running her own art advisory would not be a surprise. You could say that Goldsmith’s professional background as Christie’s international head of its 19th-century European art department, coupled with her art history educational credentials, made this path a clear one.
Goldsmith’s personal collection reveals her sharp instincts. It includes a sculpture by Laurel Roth — the U.S. artist who had everyone’s attention at the Art Basel art fair — and an Ali Banisadr jewel on loan to the Palazzo Vecchio.
Learning about how Goldsmith transitioned from dreaming about collecting art to amassing her own collection is a fascinating journey.
During the many years at Christie’s, Goldsmith has admitted that she imagined her fantasy collection, but not surprisingly, that it was also constantly changing. Privileged employee access to salerooms after hours allowed her to spend unlimited time in the presence of the best the art market had to offer. Living vicariously and picking favorites, only to see them go off to new homes, was difficult, but the following week, there would be an entirely new selection of treasures from which to choose.
Once Goldsmith left Christie’s, the first pieces she purchased were from an art fair held at the Royal Academy known as Zoo. These pieces consisted of a series of Old Masters paintings on postcards by artist Ruth Claxton. Claxton had manipulated the surfaces to change the look of the old images to be contemporary.
Goldsmith’s most recent purchase is likely her seventh piece by the photographer Francesca Woodman, for whom she is a little obsessed. The subject of this latest work was unfamiliar to Goldsmith in the realm of Woodman’s other work, and so she had to have it.
Artworks that Goldsmith hopes to add to her collection include those by Flora Yukhnovich, who reimagines Rococo classics and creates beautiful sorbet-colored versions. Goldsmith typically makes her art purchases from art fairs or galleries and, in her consulting business, is often looking on behalf of friends and colleagues.
In Goldsmith’s living room, a large portrait by the Chinese artist Ling Jian hangs near her sofa. She advises against displaying anything too expensive in the washroom, likely due to potential damage from moisture. Her admittedly impractical — but fun and technically brilliant — piece is a sculpture by Laurel Roth, the American artist who created two clashing peacocks out of fake fingernails, rhinestones, and hair clips perched atop a wooden plinth. The impracticality comes from the amount of space it requires to get around, so it needs to find a special place to be installed for the long term.
From her first purchase of Old Masters postcards to playfully dreaming of stealing Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss, Goldsmith has come a long way. Her art advisory business is based in London, England, and focuses on contemporary, Modern, and Impressionist sculpture and paintings.