Updated: Feb 16
Artiste Culture was honoured to speak with Kimberly Babin, art dealer and founder of Art Legal. Babin discussed some of the insights she had learned from her extensive professional experience in ethical art advising and art curating.
Kimberly Babin was surrounded by the arts throughout her childhood, with her mother being a painter. Babin immersed herself in visual art, music, dance, poetry and literature. After practising as an artist in a range of mediums from painting and sculpture to photography and fashion, Babin displayed a natural inclination to art curation.
Throughout her curatorial experience, she found that many art professionals including artists, collectors, dealers and institutions would seek her advice. They would ask questions revolving around art transactions, contracts, copyright, theft and the overall ethics with regard to the art industry. Kimberly began to recognise that there was a symbiotic relationship between art and law which inspired her interest in criminal justice. She furthered her studies at Sotheby's Institute of Art, Christie's Education and the Institute of Art and Law. By combining her interests, she found the gap in the market and has been able to use Art Legal to empower and inform art professionals since 2021.
Art Legal is an art consultancy that provides ethical art advisement and curatorial services. They assist in the curation ranging from collections for the individual to large institutions. Their vast knowledge of the global market and art legislation allows them to remain a standout from their competitors. Art Legal was founded at a time when there was a growing need for ethical advisement within the art industry at an international level. They continue to remain current in keeping up with the ongoing needs within the industry extending their advisement in the growing space of non-traditional art mediums such as AR and NFTs.
Babin explained her approach when tackling a new curatorial project.
“I think my curatorial prowess comes from being able to deeply understand others, their desires, and their depth while also having a deep understanding of the artworks and their “aura” or “soul”. Being able to read the room, the collector, and the artwork is the basis for success in any case.”
Kimberly Babin focuses on what the personality of a brand is and what they’re trying to convey whether it be luxury or innovation or creativity. She found that clients might not know exactly what piece they desire but have an understanding of the ambience and tone the artwork should convey. Babin enjoys the challenge of fulfilling these needs and delivering exactly what her clients are hoping for. She believes it is important to diversify collections whether it be in medium, style or period. She added that the artwork should be able to remain timeless even through the changing trends and ultimately maintain its value or increase in value over time.
Kimberly Babin explained the importance of the work she does with Art Legal and why having ethical advisement is essential in today's art market.
“I find that collections should be created ethically. It happens very innocently at times that a collector is excited to purchase a beautiful work without truly considering later implications, the origin of the work, and its provenance.”
She has seen an evolving growth in ethics being at the forefront of art transactions. Art institutions have undergone many shifts in the repatriation of artwork in prioritising the respect of cultural heritage. The art market has become more diverse and inclusive and with this growth comes a raised standard in ethical art transactions.
She also stressed the importance of art advisement for artists and why it should not be overlooked.
“One of the biggest heartaches for me is seeing a talented, if not genius, artist be rightfully pursuing their passion with skill and vigour, only to have it impeded on. For many, they have either a natural talent or a refined one through skill and practice, but many do not have deep exposure to the law, rights, and business issues. “
Kimberly added that the cost of advisement is often less than the potential detrimental cost of not understanding art law. Babin suggests artists seek advisement or research and study art law in order to protect themselves and to critically review contracts before entering them.
Alongside the invaluable art advisement that art legal offers, they also have some exciting new projects in the pipeline. This year, Art legal is releasing a podcast which will be hosted by Kimberly Babin. It will focus on the topic of art law and criminal cases with Babin sharing her unique perspectives and insights on the cases covered. The podcast will offer an insightful listen for art professionals, budding art lawyers or art lovers who would like to learn about interesting art cases and understand more about the intricacies of art.