Elena Soboleva

David Zwirner's director of online sales is helping shape the future of art collecting with a game-changing virtual experience

In recent years, art collecting has undergone a radical shift, thanks to the rise of virtual selling exhibitions. And Elena Soboleva, director of online sales at David Zwirner gallery, is leading the charge. The gallery’s Online Viewing Room, launched in 2017, is considered its “seventh space,” joining the existing bricks-and-mortar galleries in New York, London, Hong Kong, and Paris. More than just a website, the viewing room allows clients the opportunity to experience and buy from thoughtfully curated online exhibitions that coincide with major art fairs and traditional gallery shows. 

“Online and offline are no longer finite and distinct entities,” Soboleva says. “Instead, the future is hybrid.”

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Josh Smith, Untitled, 2014. Photo: Courtesy of David Zwirner

“We can begin to think of works that may not be possible to show or bring together because of certain hierarchies of logistical restrictions, so there’s a whole new level of creative freedom,” she says. Artists are also starting to get on board and take chances.

During David Zwirner’s debut exhibition of Josh Smith’s paintings last year, for example, the artist created a new series of monotypes that were made specifically for the platform. “The idea that what we are doing will set the course for where the industry goes is very exciting,” she says. “I always go by the mantra, the best way to predict the future is to create it.” 

Oscar Murillo, (untitled) poetics of flight, 2019. Photo: © Oscar Murillo. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner

A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2020 Spring Issue under the headline Creative Minds. Subscribe to the magazine.


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