Woman with Purpose: Claudia Steinfels

Woman with Purpose: Claudia Steinfels

The entrepreneur Claudia Steinfels proves art is often more of a passion than a profession. After completing her doctorate at the University of Zurich, Claudia Steinfels not only auctioned some of the most spectacular sales in Switzerland, but learned a great deal about the fascination of collecting art as the Managing Director of Christie's and Sotheby's in Zurich. She now runs her own successful art consultancy business in Zurich and London. Akris spoke to our Woman with Purpose about what makes a good auction and what personally excites her about a work of art.

Ms. Steinfels, how did you get into art? What particularly captivated you?

An enthusiasm since childhood that soon grew into a passion. Our family vacations were characterized by visits to temples and museums, churches and palazzi, which inspired and enriched me even then. The Henri Matisse retrospective at the Kunsthaus Zürich in 1982, which we explored as a high school class, was certainly a defining moment: the magic of color, the new perspectives, the fusion of cultures in the paintings.

You were Managing Director of Sotheby's Zurich for many years and also acted as auctioneer there. What constitutes a good auction?

Being able to offer high-quality objects that are on trend at attractive estimated prices. And an interesting mix of objects that appeals to various collectors' interests.

And what makes a good auctioneer?

Interest in their vis-à-vis and their needs, pleasure in interacting, determination, dynamism, and concentration.

You now advise art collectors with your company. What is the essence of a collector's passion?

The search for the beautiful, but also the challenging, curiosity for the unconventional and avant-garde - in every era.

What does an artwork need to inspire you personally?

Originality, uniqueness, and an impressive aura.

Your expertise is 20th and 21st century art, and as a Swiss person, of course, Swiss art. Is there such a thing as a favorite artist?

In my youth, my favorite duo was the bronze dog by Alberto Giacometti in front of a large-format, colorful Mark Rothko. Today, it is a bouquet of objects from art history. I always like to be inspired by great art.

Many major companies are committed to cultural sponsorship - you yourself have been active in this area in the 1990s - and have built up some significant collections. What is the focus of this support of young artists?

Many corporate collections deliberately want to promote young artists; this is primarily to do with the positioning of a company. Last but not least, it is, of course, exciting to go on the hunt and look for promising talent.

What is the best advice you have received during your career?

Act out of conviction.

And what advice would you give to young women who want to enter the art market?

It is a fascinating field if you have the passion and are not afraid of the work involved. I would advise them to be open to the options for gaining experience and to engage intensively with the area of art that particularly excites them. In addition, networks are of enormous importance in the art market.

What drives you? What does it mean to you to have a "purpose"?

It is a given. What would life be without "purpose"...?

And how do you relax from everyday work life?

Swimming in Lake Zurich all year round.

Claudia Steinfels
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