This week we sit down with Tamar Nahmias, Director of Registration, Special Projects at Hauser & Wirth. Tamar was born and raised in Los Angeles, studied Archaeology at UC Santa Barbara, followed by an MA in Museums Studies at NYU. Tamar has worked in a few galleries and museums in the past 15 years, but has been employed in various capacities at Hauser & Wirth for ten years, starting as a registrar. She looks forward to continuing her career at the gallery, and we are ecstatic to bring you her insight to working in the arts below! Please enjoy Tamar’s Frank Talk!
What was your first job in the Arts?
I was an intern at Gorney Bravin + Lee right before they closed in 2005.
What was the most useful or important thing you learned at that job?
That the art world is filled with many different personalities, and there are just as many types of jobs to accommodate those personalities. It is inclusive. You don’t have to be an artist or a curator to be in this world. You don’t even have to consider yourself a creative person.
Tell us a little more about yourself. When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in this industry?
I always thought I would be an academic, but during graduate school I started interning at galleries, and never looked back. It was purely by chance – I didn’t want to intern at a gallery, but museums were not calling me back.
What do you do now?
I am the Director of Registration, Special Projects at Hauser & Wirth NY.
Where are you from?
What is the arts community like there?
Many things over many years but always interesting.
Has where you come from shaped what you do in the arts today?
Not directly, but indirectly I’m sure it helped shape my understanding of what art is or can be.
What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world?
Your reputation is everything. Treat people fairly, do what you say you will, and be consistent.
What is one of your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?
In September I celebrated my 10-year anniversary at Hauser & Wirth. During that time, I’ve helped the gallery open locations in New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong. I think that’s pretty cool.
What has been a challenge for you?
Recently the most challenging thing has been working from home with two small children. It’s been difficult to find time to prioritize everything.
What is something you do every day at the office (or your current home office)?
I drink a lot of coffee.
What is one of the weirdest things you have had to do on the job in your career?
This job comes with a side of weird. One time, very early on in my career, my former boss asked me to return an old bag of their unworn underwear to Bloomingdales without a receipt. Three years after they purchased it. I’ll never forget that moment. But if I wanted a boring job, I would have gone into something else.
What defines a good employee? What defines a good boss?
My answer is the same for both: mental acuity, flexibility of mind, transparency, accountability and a solid work ethic.
What do you think makes a person hirable?
A great interview and good references will take you far.
What is your advice to making yourself stand out in your workplace? Any good tips for a giving a great interview?
Do your research beforehand and come with questions – some general questions regarding the entire company, company culture, etc., and some questions more specifically geared toward your interviewee. Also proof-read your application and resume/cv. And keep them each under one page.
Is there any advice you would like to give people entering the art world?
Be prepared to do the dirty work, and you will reap the benefits. Never say aloud that you are above a certain job. Don’t say it internally if you can help it.
Any other anecdotes about your working experience that you would like to share?
Probably nothing that I should share!
What is the best exhibition you have seen in the last year?
David Hammons at Hauser & Wirth LA and Mark Bradford at Long Museum, Shanghai.
If you could own a work by 5 different artists, who would be in your collection?
Goya, Gentileschi, Otto Dix, Basquiat, Calder.
How do you think art can play a fundamental role in the world’s recovery?
Economically, the business of art supports a wide range of people across many sectors and socio-economic backgrounds. It’s kept me employed, my friends employed, my mentors employed, my idols employed.
Creatively, it’s an outlet for frustration, angst, anxiety, hope – we will see many amazing and important things come out of this period. And those things will be written in the annals of history.
What is your go to snack in quarantine? And your go to soundtrack?
Ritz Crackers and Rage Against the Machine.
Since we are all at home and exploring more galleries and museums online, perhaps some for the first time, when the quarantine is lifted, what is your first art filled destination?
Probably an art fair that I’m working for the gallery (Miami? Will that happen?). The institutions I miss the most are the Met and the Neue Galerie.
It can be argued that the art world is finally forced to adopt and adapt technologies that have long been a part of other industries. Agree or Disagree?
Disagree! I don’t think it’s fair to compare the art world to other unnamed industries. We’re far beyond some and far behind others. At least at Hauser & Wirth, technological breakthroughs in how we experience art virtually is of the highest importance to the owners and partners of the gallery. And our interest in it predates the coronavirus.