Rebecca Anne Proctor
Editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar Art and Harper’s Bazaar Interiors
Q. Where did it all begin? How did you develop your passion for art?
I grew up in an artistic family. My mother is an artist and my father is a professor of Italian literature. Growing up we would spend each summer in Tuscany and in Venice where my parents would do research for their work. I would often go off sketching with my mother to small streets and scenic canals in Venice. On such excursions she taught me about perspective, colour and light. I began to develop an appreciation for beautiful things – my weakness has always been anything Made in Italy! As a family, we would visit old churches and various museums and exhibitions. It was those summers in Italy which forged a great platform on which to further develop my love of art.
We moved to Rome when I was 16 and I finished high school there where I attended the American Overseas School of Rome (AOSR). I wasn’t ready to leave Italy and return to Connecticut and so I decided to spend my first year of university in Rome. It was such a great year that I chose to continue and enrolled in a double major in Art History and Humanistic Studies with a minor in Italian Literature at John Cabot University. I then spent the spring semester of my junior year in Paris studying Art History at the American University of Paris (AUP) – a school where I had also attended several summer classes in French language and literature each summer.
Q. What brought you to Christie’s Education?
After studying Renaissance and Ancient Art History in Rome and writing my thesis on Bronzino’s Allegory of Venus (a Mannerist painter I greatly love) – I decided that it was time to dedicate myself to Modern and Contemporary art. I wanted to work in the art world and felt I needed a degree that was as much academic as it was professional. Christie’s Educations’ Contemporary Art M. Litt programme seemed to be the perfect fit, even as far away as it was from studying the Renaissance in Italy! I dreamed of working in an art gallery with artists and curating exhibitions and this degree at Christie’s was my portal in achieving this path.
Q. How did studying at Christie’s Education assist your career path?
I learned everything about the modern and contemporary art world while at Christie’s. In-depth courses in contemporary art were complemented by hands-on tutorials at Christie’s, lectures by curators and artists and art critics – all elements which gave me a thorough understanding of the professional and academic spheres of the art world. In addition, I interned at Gagosian Gallery’s Britannia Street location and gained great experience there on the ins and outs of the gallery world.
Q. What aspects of studying at Christie’s Education did you enjoy most?
The small-size tutorials were greatly beneficial to my developing knowledge of contemporary art. I loved our trip to the Venice Biennale and to other sites around the UK, talks with specialists at Christie’s and all my time researching my various papers at the Victoria & Albert Museum library. In one year, I also gained immense friendships with fellow students and tutors – many of which I continue to rely on in my current role at Harper’s Bazaar Art and when I’ve have worked as an art advisor/gallery liaison.
Q. What does your current role involve? What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
I am currently Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s Bazaar Art and Harper’s Bazaar Interiors. The former focuses on international contemporary art with a major focus on the Middle East and Africa. We cover art market trends, art collectors, fairs, gallery and museum exhibitions and various other op-ed topics. The latter covers interior design, celebrity and fashion designer homes, fashion-to-furniture trends, among many other design-related topics. I run both print magazines, oversee our digital site, social media and regularly take part in art and culture-related videos and podcasts on art and culture for Harper’s Bazaar Arabia. I also contribute to the main fashion magazine from time to time and often participate on panels relating to art and culture regionally and internationally.
Q. What would your advice be to our current students looking to start their careers in the art world and beyond?
Focus on what you love. Whether you are building someone’s collection, advising a potential client, writing on an exhibition or researching new artists – always go with your gut instinct. What is your eye drawn to? Sometimes we don’t always know why we are pulled toward something, but the fact that we are means that it is leading us down a certain path. When deciding what to cover in the magazine I certainly base my decisions on stories revolving around the news du jour, but when it comes to artists and art exhibitions, I look carefully and gravitate to what my heart wants to see or learn more about.
Q. Who or what do you draw inspiration from? Who are your influencers?
Indeed, “influencers” is the topic of today. While I find certain media “influencers” more relevant in the world of fashion, when it comes to art I look to the past and pioneers who discovered something new – gallerists who are working with artists in emerging markets, like South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Generally, people who have broken down cultural barriers to embark on a cross-cultural understanding of art. This brings people together and this is what I am interested in: the political and cultural cross-section between contemporary art and society. In the Middle East, women such as the exiled Empress of Iran Farah Pahlavi is a major icon for me as are artists such as Huguette Caland, Etel Adnan, Princess Fahrelnissa Zeid, Mona Saudi and many more – are “influencers” for me. These are women in the arts who persevered against wars, political and economic turmoil and gender and cultural challenges in order to make and exhibit their art.
Q. What is your favourite artwork/artist?
That’s such a difficult question! I have many favourites. Right now I am particularly taken with African modern and contemporary art and have been traveling frequently to the continent discovering new artists - something I am very passionate about.