ARTHENS is Athens’ only luxury art tour and art consulting company, which immerses its guests in the cultural life of the Greek capital.
Hosted by Theodora Koumoundourou, an experienced contemporary art professional, who has a special connection with the city (having been born and raised there) these unique and tailored experiences allow visitors to explore the best modern art shows and studios the city has to offer.
An art consultant and founder of ARTHENS, Theodora loves sharing her “insider’s” knowledge with her small tour groups as she takes her clients behind the scenes of Athens’ vibrant modern art community, introducing them directly to young up and coming, as well as established artists.
Having worked for various art galleries, art consultancies and museums through the years, including Edel Assanti and Ione & Mann in London, CAN Christina Androulidaki Gallery, Dio Horia Art Platform and The Benaki Museum in Athens; Theodora graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London with an MA (Hons) in Contemporary Art Theory and has acquired diplomas from Sotheby’s in Art Law and Buying and Selling in Auctions.
We recently had a chat with Theodora about her luxury bespoke art tour company that is slowly expanding and will soon include tours that go beyond Athens!
When did your passion for art begin?
I guess my passion for art began while travelling with my family. We always travelled abroad every summer and it was a tradition to visit as many museums or exhibitions as possible at the places we visited. Also, the fact that we had a lot of artists and creatives in our inner family circle helped too.
Tell us more about your work and studies?
My bachelor’s degree was in Fashion and Marketing but from the beginning, I realised that it was not exactly my calling. I was torn between studying art history or fashion, so following art was a natural progression. During my fashion degree, I started some short courses in art at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London, where I studied Art Law and Buying and Selling in Auction. That was a good foundation and when I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I decided to get some experience in art before jumping into a master’s degree. That’s when I moved back to Athens and started an internship at Benaki Museum and at CAN Christina Androulidaki Gallery. Later on, I applied to Goldsmiths University and I was accepted to study for their MA in Art Theory degree. During my Master’s degree, I was working at Edel Assanti Gallery and Ione & Mann art advisory.
When did you launch ARTHENS and how did the idea come about?
After receiving my Master’s at Goldsmiths, I decided to return to Athens. I was interested in art advising and working with young artists, but I hadn’t yet identified what would be my next step. During my first summer back in Greece, I had a few friends from London visiting and naturally I arranged cultural activities for our group. I did my research on the exhibitions based on their interests and I scheduled visits to some artist studios, as I have a lot of friends who are artists. This was during the time that a lot of young creatives who had left Greece either to study or find a better job abroad relocated to Athens, so the city was buzzing and there was great creative energy.
That’s when I realised there wasn’t a company in Athens that provided people with an interest in art with high-quality bespoke art tours; not only to deliver a satisfactory result to the client but also because there are so many different artists and shows to choose from.
I created ARTHENS for collectors and art lovers, so they can discover modern art in Athens; to meet with local artists in their studios, and if interested to also buy art while visiting the city. A sort of souvenir if you wish from their travels.
Furthermore, the art consulting side of ARTHENS is a way to support the local art scene. While introducing our galleries and artists to people from abroad, it’s also a great promotion for our cultural tourism.
How would you describe Athens’ current art scene?
I believe that since 2017-2018 the art scene of Athens has been growing and transforming. When the “wave” of Greek creatives left for abroad and returned back to Greece, they brought with them their experiences and knowledge, so the art scene was instantly “updated and refreshed”. Six years later and this creative notion hasn’t stopped, as I see a lot of foreign creatives moving to Athens constantly and organising their own projects. Athens is a city that’s very inviting to foreigners and it is very easy to meet people here and interact. The artist-run spaces, the independent art projects and exhibitions paired with top-notch exhibitions of renowned artists in big museums and galleries is an alluring “stage” for people.
Tell us more about your art tours and bespoke itineraries?
We provide three types of art tour services: The Contemporary Art tour, the Collector’s tour and the Corporate Art tour & Events.
The Collector’s tour is a bespoke art tour service for individuals who have already started their collecting journey and would like to explore the Greek art market. In case of art purchases, ARTHENS provides them with art advising and handling services such as arranging the documentation, insurance and shipping for them.
The Corporate Art tour is basically an art tour service for bigger groups that want to visit Athens and explore its cultural scene. With this service, we create itineraries based on what the group wishes to visit regarding art and we plan their entire schedule around that- from the hotel that they will stay at, to transportation and the restaurants that they will dine in.
How many galleries would you visit during a tour?
A typical tour includes three gallery visits and one artist studio visit. Our tours are bespoke, so the clients can let us know how they would like the itinerary to be shaped. They can request to go to one gallery and one museum as they may have limited time; maybe visit only an artist’s studio, or we can arrange gallery visits in the evenings during their art openings. Whatever our clients want, we can provide them. However, I always encourage clients to visit artists’ studios. It is so special to meet artists in person- in their private creative space and to interact with them.
Who are your tours designed for?
The tours are designed for people who are interested in art or in collecting and would like to explore Athens’ creative art scene in depth.
My associates and I are always up to date with all the exhibitions and new studios across the city. We try to include “fresh” activities and locations. It’s important for us to offer something refined and to build an exclusive experience for our clients. People and places that can’t be found with a “Google search”.
Are there any additional services you provide for clients?
We always inform and advise our clients on where to eat, where to dance, or where to have a beautiful walk in the city. For larger groups, we are able to provide help with restaurant choices, bookings, hotels and transportation.
How far in advance should people get in contact with you?
Ideally, people who are interested in our tours need to contact us a week in advance, in order for us to have time to analyse their interests and find the proper exhibitions and experiences.
Finally, are you also able to organise art tours in other parts of Greece?
Yes, starting this summer we will be providing art day trips to Hydra for people interested in exploring the island’s vibrant art scene. Some activities include a visit to DESTE Slaughterhouse, where every summer Mr Dakis Joannou and his team create exhibitions by prominent and established artists such as Kara Walker, Kiki Smith, Urs Fischer and others, as well as visits to artist studios around the island.
Hydra was a famous destination during the 50s for artists, directors and poets to retreat and create on the island, such as Marc Chagall, Henry Miller, Leonard Cohen, and Le Corbusier- just to name a few. This has rendered Hydra a centre of artistic creation and many have chosen this island for their summer retreat. I believe that it would be an amazing experience for visitors from abroad to be able to experience a different side of the island during their visit.
Furthermore, as of late we have started organising art trips abroad. This summer we will be able to provide organised art trips to the Venice Biennale. This will be a three-day tour for people who want to get away on the weekend. Stay tuned for more information on the upcoming art trip!