Mr Lawrence Van Hagen
The art-world star gives us a private view of his west London neighbourhood.
Mr Lawrence Van Hagen is a little reticent to reveal how old he is. He knows he’s young to be dealing with Picassos, Warhols and Basquiats and, much like the prices of the works he sells, it’s better if specific numbers are not shouted about. “I prefer to keep my age on the down-low because I think most of my clients would expect me to be older,” says the 23-year-old, with a French lilt.
Born in Paris to German and English parents, the debonair and erudite Mr Van Hagen grew up surrounded by art and artists. His mother, Ms Susanne Van Hagen, is a renowned collector, based in Paris. And though family connections undoubtedly help, he’s keen to build his business and reputation as an emerging art collector, curator and entrepreneur on his own merits.
He has sold works by some of the world’s best-known artists, but Mr Van Hagen now concentrates on bringing the next generation to the fore. “I used to suggest artists and find works of art for my friends,” he says. “So I thought, why don’t I start doing a show that puts together all the artists that I buy?” Last year, he held his breakthrough show in London, What’s Up, a curation of 50 artists’ work ranging from $2,000 to $500,000. The first show was so successful – 85 per cent of the work sold – that he has already done a second one in London and is working on a third that he will take to New York this spring. “The show is called What’s Up because it’s really what’s up on institutions’ walls, what’s up in the world of art today. Who are the artists to buy now, but also who are the ones to invest in for the future?”
Mr Van Hagen has always been entrepreneurial. From the age of 13, while at top British school Harrow (whose alumni include Sir Winston Churchill and Mr Benedict Cumberbatch), he ran a premium travel agency called Lolo Travel with the tagline “first-class travel at economy prices”, organising trips for family friends.
Travel is still a great passion and, having done a degree at UCL in business and computer science and a masters at Imperial College in innovation, entrepreneurship and management, he is working on a travel start-up that will specialise in luxury weekend getaways. Art and travel go together, he says, and he is aiming at the intersection of that Venn diagram. “I want to be the man to go to for both,” he says.
Mr Van Hagen sports the healthy glow of someone who spent his New Year in Brazil. “I’m on a plane every week,” he says. “I have to go to many art fairs to meet people, but also to scout for new artists. I go to their studios, to art centres, museums, galleries, private collections.” On a rare free day back home in London, where he is now based, he took MR PORTER on this guided tour of some of his regular haunts.
South Kensington Club
“I hang out here a lot. It’s like a country club in town with lots of interesting members and amazing art on the walls curated by a friend of mine who has an excellent collection. I work out at the gym, I do a lot of yoga, and sometimes I have a Russian banya treatment [a massage in a private sauna with a plunge pool] in the bathhouse. It’s also a good place to meet people for breakfast or lunch – they have a great Italian restaurant. There are plenty of quiet corners in which to work and I take a lot of my meetings either here or at Little House in Mayfair. I prefer SKC because it’s calmer and you’re not fighting for a seat. Plus it’s close to all the museums.”
“I’m always awake at 7.00am, even if I went out the night before, and I’m working by 8.00am. But I’m lucky that I don’t have a regular nine-to-five desk job. I’m out and about and often working in the evenings, so I organise my own hours in the day. One thing I like to do quite regularly is go to my barber on the King’s Road, close to my home, for a shave. Hak [Trevfik] and Oscar [Denni] have both been master barbers for more than 20 years. It’s an elegant, masculine space and they do an amazing hot-towel shave that is also a facial, a massage and a manicure – all for £50. It’s very refreshing if you’ve just got off a long-haul flight, or if you’ve had a late night.”
CROWN & SCEPTRE
“This a gastropub and small boutique hotel with just five rooms in Kensington Olympia that my family owns alongside several other pubs along the Dorset coast of England. Each of the pubs is very different. The Crown is exactly what a pub should be: lived in, welcoming, scruffy but cool. And there’s very good art on the walls, of course. The crowd is lively, partly because Universal has its office next door, so it’s their local. It’s a very cosy spot in winter. I had a Christmas party here for 50 people last month. It’s a great place for a casual lunch with friends – the menu is all pub classics, such as fish and chips, steaks and burgers.”
“Maison Assouline is situated on Piccadilly in the old Hauser & Wirth art gallery in an elegant listed building designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens that was once a bank. The coffee-table art books are amazing – works of art in themselves. Many of Assouline’s top clients commission them to put together whole libraries. Instead of putting a painting on the wall, they fill shelves with fantastic books. This is much more than a bookshop, it’s a lifestyle concept. They serve cocktails and they sell stationery, candles, antique curiosities. I’m hoping to work with them on an exhibition – maybe even do a book together.”
“I visit all the major art fairs and galleries all over the world, but in terms of London, White Cube is probably the leading contemporary art gallery. It represents a lot of major artists, including household names such as Antony Gormley, Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Gilbert & George and Sam Taylor-Johnson, as well as the likes of Georg Baselitz and Raqib Shaw. It has several spaces in London, but this is the Mason’s Yard space just off Duke Street in St James’s. It’s a vital part of the job to keep abreast of all the various exhibitions, so I’ll go to galleries several times a week, and I’ll normally wear a suit, especially for gallery openings. It’s important to show support and to catch up with people.”
State Of The Art
Mr Van Hagen recommends his favourite new artists to look out for – and invest in
Katherine Bernhardt, b 1975, St Louis, US
“Katherine is based in Brooklyn, and her proximity to New York’s iconic consumerist landscape is evident in her vibrant and humorous paintings. I showed her in both What’s Up shows in London. She has just finished an incredible mural at the St Louis Museum.”
“Duracell, Cantaloupe, Doritos, Toilet Paper”, 2015, by Ms Katherine Bernhardt. © Ms Katherine Bernhardt. Courtesy of Carl Freedman Gallery, London
Stefan Brüggemann, b 1975, Mexico City, Mexico
“Stefan’s multimedia works offer a complex and often scathing commentary on the art world and contemporary culture through his use of spray paint, neon lighting and vinyl text. He works in New York, Mexico and London and has just been taken on by Hauser & Wirth after a successful show in its New York gallery last summer.”
“Puddle Painting (Noon)”, 2015, by Mr Stefan Brüggemann. Courtesy of Hauser & Wirth Gallery, London
Brian Belott, b 1973, East Orange, US
“A collagist, painter, sculptor and performer, Brian creates multi-media artworks across a range of genres. He regularly incorporates objects he’s found – socks, plastic combs, children’s books – into his playful works. His calculator sculptures are my favourite.”
“Untitled”, 2016, by Mr Brian Belott. Courtesy of Loyal Gallery, Stockholm
Bianca Argimon, b 1988, Brussels, Belgium
“Bianca’s humorous pencil drawings present a vision of the world through the eyes of our younger selves. With childlike frankness, she deconstructs familiar images from popular culture. She lives and works in Paris and has just placed more than 30 works in the newly renovated Crillon hotel in Paris and is the artist in residence for the Hermès foundation in 2017.”
“Say Cheese!”, 2016, by Ms Bianca Argimon. Courtesy of Galleria Continua, Les Moulins