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How Curator Sophia Penske Is Shaking Up the California Art Scene

At just 24 years old, the model-turned-gallerist has perfected the pop-up gallery

Words by KELSEY McKINNON

 

Sophia Penske knew she was on to something when the opening event for her Los Angeles pop-up gallery this summer reached capacity. The garden-themed show, featuring pieces by Honor Titus and Greg Ito, was a first look at the work of Penske Projects, a progressive platform designed to discover artists, curate private collections and host biannual pop-up galleries.

 

At 24, Penske is taking a novel approach: she holds no inventory, buys directly from artists and relies heavily on social media. “A guy DM-ed me from New York and bought a work from the show just from seeing it on Instagram,” she says. The pop-up model also means the L.A.-based advisor/gallerist, can work from anywhere, whether in London for Frieze this October to shop for private clients (she has around 10), or show in other locales (she has her eyes on Abbott Kinney next).

Penske, whose grandfather founded the multibillion-dollar Penske Automotive Group, graduated from Cornell and modeled briefly, then learned the ropes at Di Donna Galleries and Michael Altman Fine Art in New York. Her first commercial commission was curating the vast Spring Place in Beverly Hills. “I think people like the idea of having a young dealer,” she says. “It’s been great collaborating with artists who are the same age as me. And in L.A., there’s lots of room to grow.”

 

Feature image: SOPHIA PENSKE, the curator and art advisor behind Penske Projects. Photo by Katie Jones.

 

This story originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of C Magazine.

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