In Conversation with Maria Brito: An All-Around Renaissance Woman in the Art World

In Conversation with Maria Brito: An All-Around Renaissance Woman in the Art World

Maria Brito visiting the Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs exhibit at Aperture Foundation earlier in the year. Image courtesy of Maria Brito.

Maria Brito visiting the Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs exhibit at Aperture Foundation earlier in the year. Image courtesy of Maria Brito.

Maria Brito cuts a stylish figure while navigating the art world in the many roles that she juggles as an art advisor, interior designer, curator, writer, and author. Armed with a savvy business acumen and a penchant for bold design taste and flavor, this former corporate attorney collaborates with leading artists, executives, companies, and institutions in the contemporary art landscape. Whether designing Artspace's new HQ in downtown New York City, guiding A-list celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Diddy on acquiring art, or partnering with the highly animated painter Katherine Bernhardt on a series of whimsical fashion clutches, all of Brito's projects are executed with a flawless finesse. Brito also possesses a distinctive and captivating online presence, from her Instagram account to her blog posts, she curates a visually engaging narrative detailing her creative pursuits. I chat with the New York-based entrepreneur on her latest projects, including the well-received international exhibit Greek Gotham, which she curated, and marks the first group show of New York-based artists to be exhibited in Greece.

Gallery Gurls: From a background in law you’ve transitioned and built a thriving art services business based on art advising, interior design, curating, writing, etc How did this journey come about and how did it fall in place?

Maria Brito: This would require a very long answer and many years in the making, but the short of it is that I grew up in a family of people who valued culture, collected art and loved traveling.  They instilled those values in me since I was a very young child.  I have been collecting art since 2000 - It was just a matter of time – of when I decided I was ready to part ways with being a corporate attorney to really pursue my passion.

Describe a typical work week, walk me through all of the roles that you juggle. 

Never the same ever, so there’s nothing typical.  I have two kids and a husband and they are my priority, but I also wake up very early every day, like at 5 am or 6 am, I work out and then I work with intense focus so that at the end of the day I have time for my family or for some social event, if it’s important to me.

Maria Brito standing in front of Nina Chanel Abney's mural at Coney Art Walls. Photo by Peter Koloff.

Maria Brito standing in front of Nina Chanel Abney's mural at Coney Art Walls. Photo by Peter Koloff.

Bold colors, bright patterns, and beautiful textures are big part of your design taste and it’s reflected in your personal style. What are some important things that you look for when you’re engaging with art?

Originality, concept, execution, ideas.  Sometimes amazing aesthetics lack underlying foundations, sometimes amazing ideas are executed poorly. 

Maria Brito with the artist Katherine Bernhardt. Image courtesy of Maria Brito.

Maria Brito with the artist Katherine Bernhardt. Image courtesy of Maria Brito.

"Originality, concept, execution, ideas.  Sometimes amazing aesthetics lack underlying foundations, sometimes amazing ideas are executed poorly."

You’ve worked on some amazing collaborations with successful artists like Katherine Bernhardt, Erik Parker, Kenny Scharf, and assume vivid astro focus. Tell me more about your latest partnership with Nir Hod.

Nir is brilliant and probably one of the artists with whom I’ve spent the most time discussing ideas.  He is also unusual in the sense that his work changes a lot between series, he doesn’t like to be encapsulated.  And because he is immensely talented, he can do that.  I was happy to turn his work into his first high-fashion collaboration ever.  

Maria Brito with Marina Vranopoulou at the 'Greek Gotham' exhibit in Mykonos. Image courtesy of Maria Brito. 

Maria Brito with Marina Vranopoulou at the 'Greek Gotham' exhibit in Mykonos. Image courtesy of Maria Brito. 

Talk to me about the premise of Greek Gotham, the stellar exhibition you recently curated with some of the most visible contemporary figurative artists working today. 

Well, Greek Gotham was born out of my love for Greece (I’m not Greek, for the record, but I truly have an enormous affinity with the Greeks and honestly the beauty of the islands and the history of Greece finds no parallel in the world) and also out of the opportunity to work with Marina Vranopoulou, a brilliant and driven woman who shares the same work ethics that I have and has similar art tastes and passions.  Her gallery, Dio Horia, is a new project for her that she opened last year in Mykonos (after 10 years working at the Deste Foundation) and for her to invite me to curate whatever I wanted and also give me the opportunity and freedom to design and write the book that inaugurates her publishing arm, was quite a big honor.

"Filling that building with 50 artworks of some of the most influential artists in New York City was a big thing for me."

Greek Gotham features works by Nina Chanel Abney, Mira Dancy, Misaki Kawai, KAWS, etc The exhibit will be on view through August 28th, 2016 at Dio Horia.

Follow Maria Brito on Instagram: @mariobrito_ny

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