SFA is an art advisory specializing in modern and contemporary art. Founded by Lisa Schiff in 2002, SFA serves a select group of dedicated collectors around the world.
SFA is made up of experienced art professionals able to assist in every aspect of collecting with the utmost confidentiality and discretion.
SFA strategizes all aspects of building a fine art collection, from education and acquisition to installation and collections management.
SFA prides itself on making the art world transparent for its clients, helping them navigate the complex web of relationships and platforms.
SFA engages with artists, non-profits, and museums and participates in curatorial and special projects.
SFA principal, Lisa Schiff, is frequently called upon to share her expertise and provide in-depth analysis to the press. Lisa makes a point to speak regularly on panels and to engage in public discussions, covering a variety of art related topics.
The life of an artwork necessitates a certain responsibility and SFA assists in all aspects of a collection's future care. From archiving and documentation to shipping, insurance, storage, framing, installation, and conservation, SFA staff will oversee all activities.
SFA also manages museum and other institutional loans, donations, or private resale/deaccessions.
Additionally, SFA is well versed in legal issues such as droit de suite, authentication, and estate planning.
Collecting art is an aesthetic endeavor as well as another form of asset allocation. SFA educates the collector on assessing value prior to acquisition and reappraises works as they change in value over time, keeping close track of relevant artists' performance both privately (through its knowledge of undisclosed sales) and publicly (through its awareness of auction sales).
President and Founder
Advisor, Director of West Coast
Advisor, Director of London & Special Projects
Advisor, New York and Australia
Director of Arts Administration
Advisory Assistant and Concept Store Manager
Kara Brooks | Advisory Assistant
Power of Ten, No Count
Curated by Neville Wakefield
Essay by Neville Wakefield
In terms of typical career trajectories 1973 would have been a launch-pad year. But for Robert Reed, who at the time was being celebrated across three New York exhibitions, including at the Whitney Museum of American Art, typical was never part of the lexicon. Having grown up amongst entrenched poverty and the deep racial division of Charlottesville, Virginia, Reed came to art via color; working his way from Morgan State University to Yale he become a student of the visionary abstractionist Josef Albers and later the first and only tenured African American faculty member in the history of the School of Art. During that time his refusal to conform to any of the many categories of extended embrace, both enamored him to his students and consigned him to painterly obscurity. Only after his death in December 2014, when the large body of work that had languished in his New Haven studio was finally unearthed, did the recognition denied him the best part of a lifetime, begin to arrive.
Like many of his generation Reed himself worked abstractly to avoid direct political representation. Color in its most reactive radiance and space that never let go of its attachment to the picture plane, marked all of his work. His own affiliations belonged as much to the Florentine Renaissance as they did to the currents that flowed from Abstract Expressionism through the many painting styles of the day. Paulo Uccello’s triple-bill anti-masterpiece ‘The Battle of San Romano’ exercised particular fascination. Here the struggles with perspective and the failed rendering of three-dimensional illusionistic space suggested a battle beyond that of the Florentines and Sienese. Within swirling vortices of lances, hooves, horses and men is the conflict of space itself. As with his own life and upbringing, Reed, one suspects, was less interested in what was being represented than in the struggle for representation itself.
As one who disdained labels, the term African-American modernism would have been shunned, despite its ability to describe a certain approach to painting, and existence, itself. A sustained and relentless focus on color, geometry, and the organization of form put him at odds with the deeply rutted obsessions with process and politics that were driving institutional and market interest. In 1986 he wrote: “I… accept the fact that of great importance in the artistic commitment is choice, that you have to make your own choices. You make those choices based on your needs, and that should be respected. I think of myself as an artist who’s black, an artist who goes to a well for metaphors for experiences that I have had. In terms of the stereotype black experience, I’ve been very much involved with that. I know what it is to be discriminated against. I know what it is to automatically walk to the back of the bus. I know what it is to be spat at. I know all of that stuff, and that ain’t gonna go away… It’s very important to be able to, within yourself, decide how you wish to utilize or make the statement for the cause, so to speak. My way of dealing with that issue is through the classroom, through education.” It was through education that Reed made his most indelible mark, an imprint still felt through artists such as Martin Puryear, Rachel Rose, Tavares Strachan, Tschalababa Self and Tala Mandani.
Power of Ten, No Count and Galactic Journal: Ginger Snap (aka school of colors #1) from the nineties are both formally mechanistic compositions of circles, spheres, spirals, and bands. Just as the dimensional forms push against taut diagrammatic compositional containment, so the vibrant pulses of color suggest a universe held in a tenuous balance of simultaneous expansion and contraction. But the engine of this accomplishment is neither flashy nor expressive. Reeds’ incandescent cosmologies of color and thought lead the eye into the vortex of restricted space and self-restraint. In doing so, they also lead directly to the heart of the difficulty involved in articulating the value of any piece of art, for which the canvas of the mind and the actuality it represents are always at odds. For Reed, it was simply a question of making choices based on needs. With this long-neglected body of work he does just that.
45 WHITE (Archive):
Tavares Strachan, Smalls (from Hidden Histories series)
Curated by Neville Wakefield
On View July 12—November 7, 2019
Essay by Neville Wakefield
In the words of the great Ralph Ellison: “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves or figments of their imagination, indeed, everything and anything except me.” Seeing and being seen is at the heart of Tavares Strachan’s practice. Born and raised in the Bahamas his eyes have always been drawn to horizons; to the lines that separate the visible from the invisible, the known from the unknown. The urge to explore has lead him to the further reaches of the earth - to the Arctic and to outer space – but also to epistemological shorelines, shorelines guarded once by the white academia of the Encyclopedia Britannica and more recently by the algorithmic sentries of the Google post-nation state. If knowledge is power and power is visibility then actual history is written not in the landfill of received wisdom but on the shorelines to which Strachan is irresistibly drawn.
For the 57th Carnegie International Strachan chose not to enter the building itself and add his capital to the cultural vault, preferring instead to occupy the entablature where the names of the great men – and they are exclusively men – who hold up this great edifice are inscribed in stone. There he saw the opportunity to bring the great invisible and marginalized men and women of history literally to light. The resulting palimpsest of stone and neon read like a who’s who and who’s not of the history summoned to support Carnegie’s philanthropic institute. In the spaces between the likes of Darwin, Rembrant, Voltaire, Goethe, Newton, and Magellan, the artist inserted the names of others culled from his own Encyclopedia of Invisibility, a vast compendium of all those for whom official history has undervalued or overlooked.
The Hidden Histories series invokes similar architectures of knowledge albeit on a domestic scale. The inscription of the building is here reproduced as bookends. Sandwiched between the limestone volumes of literature speak to ex libris histories of thought and emancipation. Smalls (from Hidden Histories series) 2018, is a collage of library and inscription, which has Darwin incised in the rock of time with the barely known Smalls flickering above in neon script. Evolution, it seems to suggest, should by rights also include the story of people like Smalls, an enslaved African American who gained freedom during the Civil War and became a ship’s pilot, sea captain, and politician. Excluded from the canons of official history, Small’s tale of freeing himself, his crew, and their families from slavery on May 13, 1862 by commandeering the confederate transport ship, CSS Planter and sailing it to the US blockade has, up until this point, remained largely obscure—obscured by a dominant imagination that as Ellison put it sees everything and anything but me.
R C Gibbs, Terminal 3
Curated by Neville Wakefield
On View May 29—July 11, 2019
Essay by Neville Wakefield
They say that home is where the heart is. But, more and more often these days, it might be where the luggage is; lost in what the anthropologist Marc Augé describes as one of the many ‘non-places of supermodernity’, familiar to the rest of us as the transit lounges of life. Whether parked in front of the TV or behind the wheel, waiting at the hospital or DMV, or addressing the airborne dilemmas of chicken or beef, these are spaces where we find ourselves on the move but going nowhere. As our bodies accelerate our minds become more accustomed to the condition of waiting and the architecture that describes it—the crossings, embarkations, terminals, baggage drops, roads, airports and hospitals that form the subjects of Rose Gibbs most recent works.
For Gibbs, who I first met while she was still attending Chelsea Art School, painting is where the heart is. After a few decades of doing other things – including running a successful business and being a mother—she returned home with a body of work that speaks to conditions familiar to all. The spaces she paints, even as they are informed by the migration of people and things, are devoid of humanity. Baked in the sodium glow of operational movement they are places of solitude and absence, cracks in a dream of travel conjured to take us away from who we know ourselves to be. Within this form of hybrid painting the speed of photography and the slowness of the hand are set at odds. Gibbs pulls paint across the glassy surface making the moment indecisive and blurred as if seen through the cataract of unfulfilled promise. Everything is what it seems—a slow-motion deceleration of possibility that leads inexorably towards a kind of terminal condition.
Others, equally drawn to the banality that accompanies the infrastructure of transit, have been here before. But where Fischli and Weiss’s documentation of airports melded romantic nineteenth century ideas of tourism with twentieth century technologies of globalism, Gibb’s focus on the architecture of emptiness suggests a more complete evacuation of those dreams. It’s a vision of travel as monotony stalked by fear.
When I write to her that I identify with Ground Level Baggage Drop 3 her response is to say she’s been stuck in the departure lounge for years. Looking at these works I’m not so sure. They are full of yearning – nostalgic perhaps for an era when travel promised to separate us from the baggage of the self; the person who enters these non-spaces is always a passenger. Subjected to a gentle form of possession, theirs is a journey without beginning or end. Like the paintings themselves they live in a space defined at once by hope and loss – places that the spiritual nomads we all are have come to call home.
Nicholas Galanin, Let Them Enter Dancing and Showing Their Faces: Shaman
Curated by Neville Wakefield
On View July 15—September 3, 2019
Essay by Neville Wakefield
Days may be short and nights long. Or it may be the other way around. Either way, long before it was overseen by the colonial influences of Russia and Europe, life in Sitka Alaska was shaped by the diurnal, seasonal, tidal and spawning rhythms of land and sea. It’s here that Nicholas Galanin grew up, and where his re-indiginizing practice takes the form not just of a continued insistence on collaboration and community – in work that is made with Merrit Johnson, Will Burkard, Nep Sidhu, partner, uncle, and friend – but of connection to the land itself. Inspired by generations of Tlingit and Unangax creative production and knowledge, it is a connection written not just in the practices that surround it, but into the very neural pathways and cognitive maps of the people for whom this has been their ancestral home.
Things are looking Native, Native’s looking Whiter (2012) is a compelling combination of two equally fantasist perspectives. One side of this portrait-brain belongs to a young Hopi-Tewa woman culled from Edward Curtis’ famous early 1900’s documentation of Indigenous people of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, the other to Princess Leia of Star Wars. Here galactic imperialism is rendered as alternate continuity not just within the franchise, but also within the plight of the indigents of whom its various death stars have sought to eradicate. Leia and the Hopi-Tewa subject of Curtis’ settler documentarianism become one, and the myths of outer exploration and inner extermination are brought together in a portrait that flickers like EMPDR therapy between the different eyes and brains of equally false memory and empty promise.
This same flickering is made literal in work titled White Noise, American Prayer Rug (2017), that stole the sixth floor of the recent Whitney Biennial. Here we see the ambience of a weak signal broadcast as it would appear on analogue TV, woven into the form of a rug. The noise or ‘snow’ as it would sometimes be referred to, wipes out the message the media was designed to carry to become instead a uniform distraction obscuring images and silencing voices. As Galanin puts it, “whiteness as a construct has been used historically throughout the world to obliterate the voices and rights of generations of people and cultures regardless of complexion.” Within the white noise there is no space for prayer and the rug is voided of all spiritual potential, an artifact destined only to be trampled underfoot.
But as much as social justice narratives ebb and flow through the work, Galanin also realizes that to hold sovereignty on his creativity is to decide when and how to be. With his most recent series of monotypes, it is the artist’s hand as much as his history that shapes this space and presence of representation. Let them Enter Dancing and Showing Their Faces 2018, is a reference to Tlingit culture, specifically to an entrance dance where the face is revealed, not masked. It is also the title of the work. “Dancing in our culture is to move as our ancestors moved. There is much to be learned in this space where we combine time, song, ceremony, and community, and breath life into our mask, headdresses, and hats, our at’oow.” Each monotype bears the imprint of this combination. Each monotype tells us the story of its creation, not as myth but as lived experience—as the marks that are of equal importance whether on paper or land.
b. 1979, Tlingit/Unangax
Nicholas Galanin’s work offers perspective rooted in connection to land and an intentionally broad engagement with contemporary culture. For over a decade, Galanin has been embedding incisive observation into his work, investigating and expanding intersections of culture and concept in form, image and sound. Galanin's works embody critical thought. They are vessels of knowledge, culture and technology - inherently political, generous, unflinching, and poetic.
Galanin’s concepts determine his materials and processes. His practice is expansive and includes numerous collaborations with visual and recording artists. He is a member of two artist collectives: Black Constellation and Winter Count.
Galanin embeds incisive observation and reflection into his work; investigating and expanding intersections of culture and concept in form, image and sound. He engages past, present and future; through two and three dimensional works and time-based media; exposing intentionally obscured collective memory and barriers to acquisition of knowledge.
Creating images and sound moving in time and animals fixed in space. He splinters tourist industry replica carvings into pieces, destroying commodification of culture and evidencing the damage. His carving practice includes customary objects, petroglyphs in sidewalks and coastal rock, masks cut from anthropological texts, and engraving handcuffs used to remove Indigenous children from their families. Beyond the walls of his studio, Galanin designs and fabricates ceramic riot gear, arrows in flight, and curio masks covered in delftware patterns, employing materials and processes to expand and forward dialogue on what artistic production is and how it can be used to envision possibility.
Galanin apprenticed with master carvers and jewelers, earned his BFA at London Guildhall University in Jewelry Design, and his MFA in Indigenous Visual Arts at Massey University in New Zealand, he lives and works with his family in Sitka, Alaska.
About 45 White
45 White is SFA Advisory’s official and only exhibition space, which occupies a single New York window on the ground floor. Each year, we will select an esteemed curator to showcase the work of six artists, over the course of one year. A digital essay by the curator will be accessible online, and supplementary works by the artist will often be available for viewing inside the space. At the end of each year, SFA Advisory will produce a printed catalogue that archives all six projects.
For 45 White’s debut, we are honored to invite curator, writer, and creative director Neville Wakefield to present year one. Wakefield is currently the Artistic Director of Desert X, and has served as Curator of Elevation 1049, Senior Curatorial Advisor for PS1 MoMA, Curator of Frieze Projects at the Frieze Art Fair, Co-Creative Director of Tar Magazine, Co-Founder and Co-Producer of Destricted, as well as Creative Director of Playboy Enterprises.