Interview with Hanna Yakovleva

Our guest today is Hanna Yakovleva, founder of Private Art Education. Hanna talks contemporary art scene in London, changing careers and building her own company in art education.

– Hanna thank you so much for agreeing to talk with La Boheme. To start our conversation – could you tell us where your interest in art starts from? I know that your first degree is in Business Administration and Management. When did the switch happen?

–  My family has always loved art in all its different forms: literature, theatre, music and dance. Fine arts are one of the greatest interests of my mother. When we travel, we always visit some great museums. My father has even become an artist even though he has another, very busy job. Nevertheless, it was important for me to obtain good education in business before I even started to think about career in arts because it was always just a hobby for my self-development. The switch happened during my work and traveling… I realised that art and business match in a very fascinating way and that I wanted to be involved in this process. Obviously, I had to study this more profoundly before starting to work on a more serious level. That is how I decided to come to London…

– You did a course and Sotheby’s Institute of Art and completed your master’s degree at Christie’s. What would you say are the major outcomes of these studies?

– On my arrival to London, I enrolled to Sotheby’s Institute of Art where I enjoyed a half-year diploma course in art business. I was naive to think that this would be enough to build art career straight after. The studies at Sotheby’s were very engaging and provided good insights to the world of art market and its practices in such areas as marketing, law, etc. But the more I learnt art business, the more I realised that I haven’t had enough of knowledge about art history, which, I believe, is essential for those who want to call themselves art professionals. Not everyone will agree with me… Surprisingly, many people from art business don’t know art history well or, in the other way around, art historian may not be good at some aspects like art value. Their knowledge is not integrated in both sides of art: history and business.

That is why when I had opportunity to continue studying, I enrolled for an MA programme at Christies’s, concentrating particularly on art history. As for my inner thoughts, the more I study art, the more I realise that I don’t know enough and that’s why I learn constantly at the art fairs, art conferences and symposiums all around the world. I have found the peace and pleasure in relentless studying and passing this knowledge to other people who want to understand contemporary art market as well as deep philosophy, politics, evolution of society that art history encompasses. Art World is very complex and dynamic, there are many aspects that you can’t simply learn at school. Only being in this world for a really long time is enough to start understanding the sector and its complex system and constantly altering reality.

 Many people wishing to study Art Business or a related degree in London, always come to a question of deciding between doing that at Christie’s or Sotheby’s. What are the main differences between their teaching approaches? How would you advise to choose?

– Both are equally good, to be brief.
At Sotheby’s Institute of Art I did one full-time semester course in Art and Business and it was a gateway to the world of art for me. We had leading art professionals who introduced us contemporary art practices like law, marketing and a bit of art history. But, as I mentioned earlier, it was not enough for me so straight after that I sent applications for Art Business MLitt to few art institutions, including Sotheby’s and Christie’s. I was accepted everywhere but decided to pursue my degree at Christie’s. I will tell you the story from my fateful interview, which I recall with a deep gratitude. Professor, who I knew very well and who wished me only good, asked me a question:  “So, you traveled to few art fairs this year: Art Dubai, TEFAF in Maastricht, FIAC in Paris and Art Basel in Basel. Which one you enjoyed the most?”. “I loved all of them but TEFAF is my number one!” – I answered confidently – “Because it was exceptionally classy, beautiful and I saw the finest quality art from across the ages”. I then added, “Art history fascinates me!” I was not accepted to Art business MSc but I was welcomed to do MA in Art History at Christie’s. Professor thought it would be the best option for me and for my art history passion. Well, I was mad for a few days, but now, looking back, I am very thankful that he saw love for art within me and wisely gave me one of the best advices in my life! This story proves another point… Studying at Christie’s is very tough but extremely good! Unfortunately, Master’s programme in Art History and Art-World Practice doesn’t exist anymore but this also proves that my company ‘Private Art Education’ has extra points in satisfying the need of good quality art history studies.

– Could you please share how you came up with the idea of Private Art Education? Why someone willing to get to know art better should come to you?

– Visualise the last time you visited a museum. Did you look at a masterpiece with the admiration and ask yourself why do you like it? We tend to analyse art with our own subjective minds and life experiences when, in reality, the meaning can be different. I love art that encompasses historical knowledge and at Private Art Education we want to teach you how to read artworks by yourself, using the skills acquired from us.
The power of knowledge is hard to underestimate because it welcomes us into our own inner worlds. Understanding the history of art can help make our lives fuller as we unravel the true origins of modern culture, civilisation and evolution of various artistic styles.
Our aim is to provide comfortable, exciting and innovative environment to learn art history, to get better understanding of various aspects of the art business, get the inside stories from the art-world experts and create a relaxing and friendly networking atmosphere.


– How do you choose subjects to cover? What inspires you in preparation of the tours and lectures?

– The inspiration for our art programmes that I design by myself is simple – it covers all major art styles chronologically and in evolutional way. Our topics and subjects are quite diverse, starting from the Renaissance and moving up towards Modern and Contemporary Art. In my opinion, it is important to be able to recognise art styles and have the ability to use appropriate art terms when discussing culture with friends and colleagues, because it demonstrates your intricate knowledge of the components that make up our culture. Private Art Education membership course will give you necessary skills to recognise the most important aspects that make up art history: art movements, symbols, themes, context, styles and many more.
One of the best testimonials that I have received from our member was: “You gave me the entire world of art for the rest of my life to enjoy. There is no price for that”. This is my main mission: to inspire people to love and appreciate art.

– What is your opinion of the current art market and London art market in particular, and its trends?

– The sensible trend of the art world is that the industry is growing in its sizes, shifting across the borders, thanks to the phenomena of online sales and emerging markets. Also it’s steadily becoming more transparent, thanks to legislation changes. Blue-chips galleries are firmly growing and slowly overtaking market shares from mid-range competitors. According to annual art market report, larger art dealers (10+ employees) are more likely to end this year in profit, they feel more confident on the market, than smaller size galleries/dealerships.

Although, from the other hand, galleries that represent new emerging artists are becoming increasingly popular. Online sales are gaining momentum and online auctioneers are bidding for the attention of collectors of different scale. As my art colleague’s Marine Tanguy MTart agency’s motto states: “Don’t Invest in Art, Invest in Artist”, it seams to echo one more global art trend.


–  What would be your top-7 must-see places for art in London. I guess that might be the Wallace Collection which you seem to be fond of…   What else would that be?

–  National Gallery (to see masterpieces from the Renaissance to Modern, paintings that ‘speak’ by Titian, Rubens, Holbein, Caravaggio, Monet and many other magnificent artists), National Portrait Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Britain, Tate Modern.
Temporary Exhibitions for next few months in London: Basquiat: Boom for Real at Barbican Art Gallery, Dali/ Duchamp at Royal Academy of Arts, Modigliani at Tate Modern, London Art Fair in January.
And BE CURIOUS… Choose the location that you want to explore and we will look up together. Cultural London has a lot to offer! Private museums, galleries, including Sir John Soane museum, Kensington Palace, the Saatchi Gallery and many more. Whether you love Old Masters or modern art, contemporary sculpture or Impressionist paintings, London has an art gallery will please your tastes. Private Art Education can arrange private art gallery views exclusively for you, auction house visits or even tours of private collections.


© Zhamila Tampayeva



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