The Digital Matchmakers of Israeli Art

Art Source, the online platform created by two enterprising Tel Aviv curators, offers a whole new art-purchasing experience geared to our global, social media times

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Sarah Peguine, left, and Michal Freedman. 'We are trying to offer art in a variety of styles, in a wide range of prices suitable for different audiences'
Sarah Peguine, left, and Michal Freedman. 'We are trying to offer art in a variety of styles, in a wide range of prices suitable for different audiences'Credit: Guy Nachum Levy

It’s just a year since Sarah Peguine and Michal Freedman formally launched Art Source, a platform that offers advice on and information about buying artwork from Israel’s best and brightest contemporary artists. Art Source is not an online store, the two founders explain, but an enterprise that is developing a whole new model for purchasing art – by means of a type digital curating. It offers clients professional guidance on artwork and its creators, meetings with the artists themselves, crating and shipping services, and more. Next up is a new podcast that will offer virtual studio visits and talks with artist.

The local art scene, says Freedman, 33, is not easy to navigate. “We understood that there was a need for an online home for contemporary Israeli art,” she says. “A few months ago we were contacted by an Australian collector who discovered the work of Mosh Kashi through our website. When he came to Tel Aviv on vacation we set up a meeting between them. They had an amazing connection.”

A screenshot from 'We understood that there was a need for an online home for contemporary Israeli art.' Credit: screenshot Art Source

Adds Freedman: “After we sent the painting the collector had purchased to Australia, we were pleased to get an emotional email from him, in which he told us that we had helped him start his Israeli art collection. We saw how our new platform gave someone from the other side of the world access to art that we believe in – that it’s a tool that connects people from all over the globe to Israeli art.”

Art Source boasts an English-language website with a magazine and a podcast, as well as a growing social media presence.

“There’s an emphasis on the quality of the work displayed on the site,” says Peguine, 32. “We are trying to offer art in a variety of styles, in a wide range of prices suitable for different audiences, from established collectors to clients making their first purchase.”

Sarah Peguine, left, and Michal Freedman. 'We feel that we have power, together'Credit: Avshalom Halutz

The two women, both former gallery directors, showcase veteran as well as emerging artists on their company’s website; among the big names featured are Zoya Cherkassy, Adi Nes, Tsibi Geva and Khen Shish.

Both of them also have degrees in art history. Peguine studied at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and Freedman at Tel Aviv University.

“I chose the field because it brings together many other fields, like philosophy, politics, history, culture and languages,” says Peguine. “When I came back to Israel [after my studies] I found that we have a fascinating art scene, but at the time there wasn’t much practical information about it in English for tourists, new immigrants, or art lovers from abroad who use the internet.”

In 2008, out of a desire to make Israeli art more accessible to such people, Peguine started a blog called Oh-So-Arty.

A screenshot of Art Source's podcast.

“I was accepted to a master’s degree program in art history in London, but I understood that I was too connected to Israeli art,” she explains. “I chose to stay here and work in an established gallery. I wanted to learn from the field. I realized that there are other people like me, who are connected to the art scene in their city and who give art tours. I knew that my customers were curious people who like to travel the world and enjoy discovering a city through its art scene. In 2017 I started the international version of the blog, a platform for arranging art tours with local guides, which operates in more than 20 cities around the world.”

Freedman grew up in Ramat Hasharon; her mother works in the Defense Ministry and her father is a lawyer. Peguine was born in France and grew up in Tel Aviv; her family owns the Israeli branch of the French tea boutique, Palais des Thes. The two women met nearly a decade ago when Freedman was managing the Gordon Gallery and Peguine was at the Dvir Gallery, both in Tel Aviv. They had worked together on the tours that Peguine organized and there was an immediate click between them.

That click eventually led them to the idea of creating Art Source, a little over two years ago. “The collegial connection turned into a friendship and shared fate,” says Freedman. “We realized that we had a vision for the Israeli art market and for the places it could reach.”

At the studio of Israeli artist Boaz Noy, whose art is featured on Art Source.Credit: Sarah Peguine

“We feel that we have power, together,” adds Peguine. “It felt right to promote art that we liked with a new model that’s suited to our times. And it’s also important to us to work with female professionals, female artists, and to put them at center stage.”

Freedman had her first child, Adam, about a month ago. “There are those who say that the most important decision of your career is the person with whom you choose to share your life,” she says. “I feel the importance of this choice almost every day.”

“I chose an independent path to get more freedom in my life,” Peguine explains. “As an entrepreneur I see how easy it is to be sucked into the work and it’s important to me that the ‘free’ aspect of things – whether it’s travel abroad or constant learning – will always be present.”

Right now the two are busy launching their new podcast, The Art Source Podcast. “We are working on a series of open-studio encounters with some of the artists on our platform,” Freedman concludes, “that will involve an intimate encounter with them and an opportunity to view and purchase new works.”