Madeline Cornell has years of expertise in 20th century master photography through emerging and established contemporary artists. Before joining Winston Wächter Fine Arts as Director, she was a specialist in the photographs department of Artnet Auctions. She was the Assistant Director at Robert Mann Gallery with previous experience from James Cohan and the New Museum of Contemporary Art. Madeline holds a master’s degree from New York University in Visual Arts Administration and a B.A. in art history from the University of Oregon with minors in business administration and arts management.
What was your first job in the Arts and what was the most useful or important thing you learned in that experience?
I started as the Gallery Manager and was later promoted to the Assistant Director at Robert Mann Gallery. I was able to learn in depth knowledge about 20th century through contemporary photography. I had to wear a lot of different hats during my time there, which helped me develop strong tools in sales and client relationships.
Tell us a little more about yourself. When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in this industry?
After deciding to studying Art History in undergrad, I joined the Art History Association. We took a trip to visit some galleries and met with a Director at one of them and I knew I wanted her job. I loved the idea of being able to work with artist directly and promotion their job while also working with clients to cultivate their collections.
What do you do now?
I am the Director of Winston Wächter Fine Art.
Where are you from and what is the arts community like there?
I grew up in California. Where we lived was very suburban, so my only access to the arts was local community not for profits or going to San Francisco to visit the big museums there, like SFMOMA.
What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world?
Know how to network. The art world relies on relationships to make things happen.
How is your current job adapting to the ever-changing digital landscape?
We have starting doing more online exhibitions and viewing rooms. People are getting more and more comfortable buying art online which allows us to have a much broader reach to promote our artists.
What is one of the weirdest things you have had to do on the job?
While at the New Museum, I had to condition report a whole chandelier made of underwear for the Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest
What do you think defines a good employee? And what defines a good boss?
A good employee is committed, detail oriented and brings solutions along with the problems. A good boss listens to new ideas, gives clear direction and has no problem jumping in to help no matter how small the task.
What is your advice for making yourself stand out in the workplace? Any good tips for giving a great interview?
Being confident in yourself and what you can bring to the table.
What artwork is/was in your home office?
I had a beautiful photograph by Cig Harvey hanging above my desk.
What aspect of the art world in 2022 are you most excited about?
Being back in person, traveling to art fairs and seeing museums show aboard.
Is there any advice you would like to give people entering the art world?
Find your strengths and develop them. It will help you figure out what niche of the art world you want to be a part of.
What is the best exhibition you have seen recently?
The Dior show at the Brooklyn Museum. The pairing of artwork with the clothing was perfection. Especially Richard Avedon’s Dovima with Elephants juxtaposed with the Evening Dress by Dior.
How do you think art should be shared and/or experienced moving forward?
There is nothing that beats seeing artwork in person no matter how much the art world finds itself online.
If you could own a work by 5 different artists, who would be in your collection?
Irving Penn, Faig Ahmed, Arghavan Khosravi, Eduard Degas, Ethan Murrow