Art Now

From Artists to Art Dealers to Mega Collectors: The Big Art Family.

Another spectacular day just passed by! Today’s class focused on mapping the art world, from artists to auction houses. Students also presented their assignment “Learning to Look” and  they are truly starting to be very critical and analytical. They impressed us all with their fantastic work. After having lunch at the Chelsea Market, we visited The Whitney Biennial. As soon as we started to see the art at The Whitney, students remembered Julie Reiss’s words from yesterday at the Met: “Each museum has their own concept of modern art”. We all agreed that she was so right. We ended our day walking through the High Line all the way to the Vessel. The bravest ones went all the way up to the upper floors of  the vessel and got to enjoy the wonderful views of Lower Manhattan and the Hudson river.





All the fun just started!

What a fantastic day we just had!

Professor Veronique Chagnon-Burke welcomed us at Christie’s this morning and delighted us with a lecture about what is art. We went through the main art movements analyzing some of the big names. From the Classics to Dadaism, we learned how to look at a piece of art. We got our first assignment and headed to the Met museum to put our knowledge into practice. Julie Reiss was waiting there for us and gave us a very interesting tour through the exhibit Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera. We got time to complete our assignment and start looking at art with different eyes. Finally we got lucky enough to have a sunny afternoon so we walked through Central Park to end up contemplating the Tilted Head Sculpture. We had such a great time and got to enjoy art and the city while getting to know each other.

We made it to Columbia!

The Christie’s Art Now program is off to a fantastic start! All our students arrived safe and sound at Columbia University. After they settled in and unpacked, we had a welcome meeting and the orientation for the program. We got to know each other a little bit and we couldn’t have asked for a better group.They went for dinner together and they seem to be enjoying everything to the fullest already. They are very excited about classes tomorrow and can’t wait to meet the day students at Christie’s.

Meet our Staff!

Program Director Leonor Brenes is originally from Spain and currently resides in NYC. She completed a BA in English language and literature at the University of Sevilla (Spain) and after working as an ESL teacher for several years in Madrid, she moved to NYC where she has taught Spanish in the IB program (International Baccalaureate) for both high school and middle school. Currently, she teaches Spanish at Saint David’s School in Manhattan. She has also worked for Summerfuel for more than 15 years getting to know in situ many of our programs. In her spare time she enjoys going to art galleries and museums, live music, traveling and spending time with family and friends. She is thrilled to lead the Christie’s Art Now program and enjoy it alongside the students.


The RA working with the Christie’s Art Now program is Ashley Cuevas. This past May, she graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in leadership and creative studies at Buffalo State College. She plans to work in the higher education field or the college access area. She is so excited to be working with Summerfuel for the first time and even more delighted to be paired with the Christie’s Art Now program.

Countdown to Christie’s!

Greetings students and families,

My name is Leonor Brenes and I am thrilled to be the Program Director for Art Now at Christie’s New York. Summerfuel and Christie’s Education have teamed up to offer an amazing, one-of-a-kind glimpse into the art world of today with New York City serving as the classroom. Our days will be filled with visits to various museums, galleries, and private collections, as well as classes with the experts. Be sure to check this blog for daily updates and photos of our activities.

Lodging and Staff

During the program, students will reside in Morris Schapiro Hall on the campus of Columbia University, conveniently located in Manhattan’s Upper West Side.  Students will share floors with another Summerfuel program—Leadership and Innovation. We will link up with this program for various activities when our schedules coincide. Additionally, staff from this program will work closely with the Christie’s Program staff and students.

Arrival Day

We are ready to welcome you on Sunday, July 7! Students can begin checking in at 3 PM. We will have staff out at the airports to meet and transport students to campus. Students should look for staff in blue Summerfuel t-shirts in the baggage claim area (for domestic flights) or in the arrivals area (for international flights). I will be here at Morris Schapiro Hall meeting students and families as they arrive. If you’re traveling by car, use 605 West 115th street, New York, NY 10025 as the drop-off location.


In the event you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email me at Starting on July 5, you will also be able to contact me on the program cell phone that I will have for the duration of the program. That number is 1- 929-505-2911.

Looking forward to meeting you and having an awesome summer!


Leonor Brenes

ART NOW: $1.4 Million Banksy Painting Self-Destructs

In the exciting wake of Summerfuel’s first ever Art Now program in partnership with Christie’s in New York City, it is only fitting that we talk about the incredible Banksy stunt that occurred just a few days ago. Whether you attended the inaugural year of the Art Now program and learned about the artist, Banksy, firsthand there, or you already know who he is, this stunt was one for the ages.

The British street artist created the renowned spray paint on canvas work, entitled “Girl With Balloon”, which sold for $1.4 million at a Sotheby’s auction last week. As soon as the hammer went down, the painting seemed to self-destruct, falling through the frame in shredded pieces! Soon after, Banksy took to social media admitting to his prank and showing a video of a shredder being built into the back of the frame. This was quite an unprecedented happening, leaving onlookers in a state of shock and awe – they were having a true Banksy experience.

This stunt raises so many questions – did Sotheby’s know that this was going to happen? Has the value of the work gone down? Or, perhaps, the value has gone UP? What will be the next steps for the buyer of the work that just spent $1.4 million? Maybe the fact that we have so many questions and are buzzing about the prank, is exactly the point that Banksy was trying to make in the first place.

What do you think? Art Now alumni, art buffs around the world, and those who are just hearing about Banksy for the first time – tell us your thoughts on this piece of auction history!

Click below to read more:

Final day!

And so we’ve arrived–it’s the final day of Art Now! We finished the program today with one of the most exciting forms of contemporary art: street art. Students began the day with a presentation about the history of street art and what the differences are between street art and graffiti. Then, students heard from a panel of actual street artists about their experiences! One panelist, Al Diaz, is a well-known, first-generation NYC subway graffiti artist that worked with Jean Michel Basquiat. The other panelist, Lizzy Schoettle, is the woman behind the iconic Phoebe image that can be found as stickers or prints throughout the city. It was a truly illuminating experience.


But it’s not enough to just hear about street art; you really have to go out and see it for yourself…and so we did just that! After lunch we took to the streets of the East Village and one of the first pieces we saw was a Phoebe sticker! It’s safe to say that many minds were blown today by these images hidden in plain sight.

Next, we headed to the Brooklyn Bridge for a stroll across the river. It was a little warm, but the cool breeze off the water made it enjoyable. After a lot of walking, the students were ready for a break in the park!

We ended our evening with a trip to Luzzo’s BK in Brooklyn for our final dinner. After pizza and pasta, laughter and sadness about leaving, we traveled back to campus and said goodbye to the day students. Tomorrow we go our separate ways, but the experiences we shared and the art we witnessed will keep us together even when we’re apart.


Final projects, Museums, Socrates Sculture Park, Escape Room

Wow! If you can’t tell by the headline, today was a jam-packed day of awesome activities. In class, students presented their final group project in which they shared 10 pieces of art that they would use to form a collection. Veronique, the academic director at Christie’s Education, asked that they choose pieces around a theme of their choice and that some pieces fit the theme literally and some metaphorically. The themes they chose were Ethnicity, Reflection, and Light It was fascinating to hear their reasoning behind each piece they selected.

Next up was the Museum of the Moving Image. This museum paid homage to film, cartoons, actors, etc. It was a very hands-on museum. The students especially enjoyed being able to create their own Muppet and their own puppet show in the Jim Henson exhibition. It was also captivating to see some of the outfits, wigs, and makeup that actors have worn in their various roles.

Then, we visited a second museum today: the Noguchi Museum. The Noguchi Museum is housed in the former workspace of Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi. After that, we walked just across the street to the Socrates Sculpture park. We were able to take in the amazing views of the Manhattan skyline while lounging in the park.

After dinner, we rounded out the evening with a trip to Clue Chase–an escape room in Midtown. Although students did not successfully escape, they earned a ton of points and had a good time. That’s what’s most important, right?

Tomorrow is our last full day, and we’re closing the program in a big way: a panel of street artists, a tour of New York City street art, and a final group dinner in Brooklyn!