Ten key Soho House artworks chosen by 10 art pioneers
To celebrate the launch of our global art maps, we asked a group of pivotal figures shaping the future of contemporary art to pick their favourite pieces
Wednesday 11 October 2023 By Soho House Photography by Jake Curtis and Mark Seelen Assisted by Tom Peppiatt Additional photography by Gina Soden, Giulia Venanzi, Ian Byers-Gamber, Chatchawan Jaksuwong
Art has been crucial to the Soho House vision since the early days at our very first site at 40 Greek Street, with many British and international artists among its patrons. It was only natural that our collection then quickly grew, hanging on the walls of all of our Houses. The foundations of the collections were built by artist Jonathan Yeo and later curator Francesca Gavin, but it was the current Global Director of Art Kate Bryan who truly took it global since starting at Soho House in 2016. Today, the art collection spans more than 8,000 artworks across 41 Houses around the world.
Every House has its own site-specific assemblage curated to represent the local creative spirit, and reflect the history of the location and the community at its core. Nothing is ever just decorative – every artwork has its own story, which is likened to the story of the House. To share these with members, this week we’re launching art maps for every House around the world, available on the Soho House app, with 10 of our sites getting special printed versions.
To celebrate the launch of the art maps and Frieze art fair’s annual takeover in London’s Regent’s Park, we asked 10 key figures of the art world to pick their favourite works from the Soho House collection, all of which are on display in our global Houses right now.
Klaus Biesenbach, cofounder of the Berlin Biennale and director of the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin
‘Shark’ by Damien Hirst at Soho House Berlin
‘“The Physical Impossibility Of Death In The Mind Of Someone Living” is the title of a groundbreaking work of art made in 1991 by the then “Young British Artist” Damien Hirst. It consisted of a four-metre tiger shark preserved in formaldehyde, floating in a glass box that looked both like an oversized aquarium, as well as a giant anatomical display vitrine. In short, the shark – among other early pieces – propelled Hirst to international fame.
‘It was so recognisable, simple to describe and easy to imagine that the artist himself could quote and claim the notoriety of that early piece by just spray painting the silhouette of a shark and signing it at Soho House Berlin.’
Chomwan Weeraworawit, co-curator of Bangkok Art Biennale
‘Breast Vessel Soho House’ by Pinaree Sanpitak at Soho House Bangkok
‘Pinaree Sanpitak’s breast stupas have travelled the world and are a core part of her practice, at once an homage to the breast that gives birth to life and symbolises womanhood, and the stupa, which beyond religious iconography refers to a mound of dirt used for rituals in pre-Buddhist civilisation. When the stupa is turned upside down, it becomes a vessel, a cup that can hold milk, water, and an offering.
‘In ‘Breast Vessel Soho House’ (2022), the first painting you see upon entering Soho House Bangkok, the breast stupa is turned upside down, becoming a vessel that transcends the body as it feels like an invitation to fill the vessel together, a ritual. Layers upon layers of deep red paint are applied to the canvas with a palette knife with the knife’s marks left intact, pencil markings layered upon this, a smooth grey vessel against a textured background, almost like it’s floating. The juxtaposition between the materials and the form creates tension and suspense, yet an overwhelming sense of serenity.’
Eugenio Re Rebaudengo, collector, curator and founder of ARTUNER, London
‘Actions’ by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye at 180 House, London
‘Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is an artist who we have admired and collected since 2013. This piece in the Soho House collection is from the same year that we started collecting her work. It has the typical mysterious aura of Lynette’s paintings, with a very intense gaze staring back at you. I consider her one of the most important artists of her generation. We are proud to have showed her works in multiple locations around the world: she had a solo show at our Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Torino in 2018, and was recently part of our collection exhibition Reaching For The Stars at Palazzo Strozzi in Firenze. We are lucky to have been able to live with her paintings at home over the past decade, and this small portrait at Soho House in London makes us feel really welcome.’
Maria Balshaw, director of the Tate, London
‘Pepsi And Cocky #11’ by Sarah Lucas at Soho House 40 Greek Street, London
‘Having just opened a major new solo exhibition at Tate Britain, I’ve had the pleasure of spending a lot of time with Sarah’s irreverent and punchy work, and what a joy this has been. For more than 30 years, she has been treading a path that’s entirely her own – and that never fails to both surprise and delight. “Pepsi And Cocky #11” is just one example of how she deftly adds humour to the mundane, bringing an everyday object to life with her signature social critique. At once absurd and unnerving, it stops you in your tracks and reels you in. And isn’t that what all great art should do?’