LSS Art Advisory works with clients to build contemporary-art collections of lasting value. With our dual backgrounds in the art and financial markets, we offer cutting-edge expertise in the ways that art today is created, shown, bought, and sold around the globe.
Based in San Francisco, we are the go-to advisers for California’s growing art scene, providing an insider’s perspective on the Bay Area, greater Los Angeles, and beyond. Whether we’re working with first-time art buyers or market veterans, our team treats collecting as a journey of discovery, access, and learning. From exploring the studio, gallery, and art fair to installing new acquisitions in your home and gardens, we’ll empower you to live with art you love.
Laura Smith Sweeney
How would you describe LSS Art Advisory in 3 words?
Informed – In an art world that’s nothing short of opaque, we believe that transparency is essential. That’s why we confront the art world and market head on, so you can consider the value of artworks holistically.
Approachable – Art is for everyone. That’s why focus on education and exploring the ins and outs of the contemporary art world together are key. We break down barriers of art speak, bringing you face-to-face with the gallerists, artists and curators who are leading the conversation.
Personal – There’s no one-size-fits-all way to collect art, nor should there be! We work with clients individually to build a collection distinctly, uniquely you.
What sparked your interest in art?
Born and raised in Los Angeles, I grew up just as the city’s art scene began to flourish. The Light and Space movement, specifically the works of James Turrell, Fred Eversley, and Mary Corse, shaped my taste. My family spent weekends visiting arts and cultural spaces, from The Getty and LACMA to MOCA and The Huntington. Studying art history at UCLA further solidified my passion for the arts. It has been incredible to participate in the city’s cultural evolution, from visiting studios of groundbreaking artists, such as Mark Bradford, Noah Davis and Njideka Akunyili Crosby, to experiencing game-changing exhibitions, such as Pacific Standard Time and Made in LA.
How does your background in finance bring a unique perspective?
The art world sometimes feels like insider baseball: either you know how the game is played or you’re left out. With an MBA and 20+ years of experience in the financial sector, I chose to start a business focused on bringing transparency and value to the table, trading art and financial speak for a straightforward education. Collecting art should start with a work you love, without discounting the fact that your collection is an investment. We discuss artworks from all angles with our clients to ensure they have lasting value, both emotionally and financially. LSS Art Advisory is an invited member of the Association of Professional Art Advisors (APAA), the only accrediting organization for art advisors. The APAA’s code of ethics, prohibiting self-dealing, echoes the principles one expects in the financial world.
How do you support the greater California arts community?
Museums and non-for-profits form the core of the art world and supporting them is an instrumental part of our vision for collectors. My service on committees at SFMOMA and on the board (culminating as vice-chair) at The San Francisco Art Institute, and my commitment to the Hammer Museum Circle and LACMA’s Art Here and Now program in Los Angeles give me early access to young artists with curatorial support and career potential. Smaller arts organizations can also make a true difference in everyone’s community, which led to my deep engagement with the Headlands Center for the Arts, the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts and Artadia, and First Exposures.
What is your role at LSS Art Advisory?
In collaboration with Laura, I support all aspects of the advisory process from researching artists and exhibitions for our clients to overseeing all aspects of project logistics.
How did you land in the world of art advising?
My background is in Early Modern Italian art – leagues away from the contemporary artists we work with today – but I rely on that experience daily. I studied Art History at Queen’s University in Canada before pursuing my Master’s degree at the University of Toronto. My studies brought me to Vicenza, Italy, where, in the process of writing about 17th century artists and working at the Palladio Museum, I discovered my passion for contemporary art. My travels throughout Europe reveal the continuity between contemporary artists and the art of the past. Returning to Toronto, I worked at Odon Wagner Gallery and assisted in curating nine exhibitions. It’s exciting to combine these diverse skill sets at LSSAA, expanding our clients’ love and knowledge of art.
What is your most exceptional memory with art?
While I thought moving to Italy would bring me closer to Renaissance art, my visit to the Venice Biennale in 2015 ignited my passion for contemporary art. I still remember the completely immersive installations of Canada’s pavilion by the collective BGL and Chiaru Shioto’s installation at the Japanese pavilion which transported me into another world.