Christie's Professional Brings Chinese Contemporary Art Expertise to Classroom
Rita Langdon,Associate Provost for Communications, Public Relations & Marketing
Long Island University, LIU Post
Dr. Aileen Wang is an art historian at LIU Post who specializes in Chinese contemporary art, but her background is not just in academics. After completing a Ph.D. in Renaissance art, she went to work in the New York office of Christie's, one of the two largest fine art auction houses in the world.
"I was hired as an advisor to top clients," she says. "The Chinese art market was just becoming a major player, and my job was to get to know my clients, and to assist them in building their collections."
Working in the art business world showed her how much globalization has impacted the way art is produced, sold, marketed, and collected -- particularly because she was hired at the outset of that trend. This experience was what led her to specialize eventually in Chinese contemporary.
"It was a great time to be there, seeing everything happening first hand," she recalls. "It's more established now -- but the global market is constantly changing."
Now she's bringing her unique "dual perspective" to art students at LIU Post. A signature feature of her contemporary art course is an inside look at Christie's New York, called "Art World Access." Students attend a lecture delivered by the head of the art business program at Christie's Education, then tour the auction house and observe a live auction. "It's quite unusual to provide this opportunity to students," says Wang. "Because of my background, I have experienced firsthand the connections linking the creation, study, and business of art, and I make sure that my students are exposed to all these different facets as well."
The fact that LIU Post is located in Brookville, Long Island, says Dr. Wang, is critical to her ability to do that -- and it's not just the area's proximity to New York City. "It's the greater level of sophistication," she says. "Generally, students who come here know that they'll be coming to a place where there is an appreciation for the arts. They have that appreciation too, but in a community like Brookville they can cultivate that appreciation even further."
Art students, she admits, don't typically have exposure to the business side. "But you can't be an artist and not be aware of how this side of the art world works," says Wang. "A pleasant revelation is how passionate the art students are about what they're experiencing. Our students don't necessarily come here with a global business perspective to the study of art, but they develop it here."
Dr. Wang was appointed assistant professor of art history and museum studies in LIU Post's School of Visual and Performing Arts in 2012.
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