Check out our interview with columnist & art philanthropist Alexander Hankin.
Hankin’s passion for the arts has led him to take an active role in major art institutions as well as being an art, fashion and culture columnist for Philadelphia Style Magazine, Gotham, Guest of a Guest, and Quest Magazine. He helped launch and co-chairs the MAD Luminaries group at the Museum of Arts and Design and host’s talks and panels for the museum under the Luminaries Live, banner. Hankin is also Chair Emeritus of the Young Friends of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a member of the Board of Directors of Opera Philadelphia and sits on the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Contemporaries Committee and the London-based Serpentine’s Future Contemporaries Committee.
Follow Alexander @HRH_Alexander
Hi Alexander, please tell us a little about you?
I am a third-generation real estate developer at Hankin Management Company and contributor to various publications. I’ve written about being an art, fashion and culture columnist for Philadelphia Style Magazine, Gotham, Guest of a Guest, Elevated Magazine, Observer and Quest Magazine. I’ve helped launch and am now a co-chair of the MAD Luminaries group at the Museum of Arts and Design. I host talks and panels for the museum under the Luminaries Live banner. I am also Chair Emeritus of the Young Friends of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a member of the Board of Directors of Opera Philadelphia and sit on the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Contemporaries Committee and the London-based Serpentine’s Future Contemporaries Committee. I am also actively involved in the Guggenheim Young Acquisitions Committee. Additionally, I’ve created and chair The Downhill Disco at the Aspen Art Museum, a unique après-ski fundraiser. I am always looking for new and innovative ways to engage people in the world of art and culture.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
I am passionate, driven, and cheeky.
Who is your role model?
My Father and mother are both my role models! They are my greatest champions and love me unconditionally. They’ve always told me I can be anything.
How did you become so involved in the art world?
When I studied law at Rutgers, I left like I was drowning. I needed something to be creative and take me away from my studies, which led me to Young Friends of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Through events, curation and becoming a member, the Young board really gave me a sense of community. From there, I just kept learning and getting involved in various organizations. I can thank my ever growing love of art to them!
How has this changed your life?
Art has become such a big part of my life. It’s how I’ve met so many of my friends and it allows me to travel the world attending fairs and events and to see artists.
What impact does the arts have on society?
I think art is so much a part of society. Art really tells the human experience. It’s for beauty, its politics, its history, its religion, its protest, Art is all encompassing.
Do you see the way younger generations are giving to the arts as different from previous generations? If so, how?
Truthfully, I don’t think Millennials and younger, give in the same way. Most people think what can you do for me as opposed to what can I do for you. We live in the selfie generation. So it’s a challenge right now figuring out engagement, and how to keep someone engaged now and how to grow and foster that love throughout the rest of their lives.
What mindsets helped make you so successful?
Being driven and setting goals. You have to always be striving to achieve something. There is no top of the mounting, only momentary plateaus, until the next climb.
You are also in the Board of Trustees for MAD, Aspen Art Museum, a member of the Board of Directors of Opera Philadelphia, and on the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Contemporaries Committee. Tell us about it. That’s amazing.
So a little roundup. MAD Luminaries has a full slate of programming coming this fall with gallery visits and MAD Ball coming up on October 23. Opera Philadelphia kicks off our annual festival. This year O23 kicks off on September 21. I think I am most excited about our production of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra. I also can share that I will be chairing the benefit committee for the Whitney Art Party this winter. Lastly, I’m starting to plan my annual après benefit at the Aspen Art Museum, which always takes place the last week of December. So lots going on in my world right now.
And now about the Guggenheim Young Acquisitions Committee and what do you do with them and if you can share any upcoming news?
The YCC Acquisitions Committee will be having our fall meeting soon and I can’t wait to see what the curators have on the docket. Additionally, this spring the YCC benefit will return and I will again be co-chairing.
What would you say are the greatest lessons you learned so far in the business?
Hard work pays off, but sometimes it does not and you need to be ok with that. Additionally to that notion, always have multiple irons in the fire.
Name your top 3 favorite artists/painters?
Johannes Vermeer, I’m going to see The Music Lesson, and then I will have seen every work by Vermeer. Wes Anderhold, he’s so talented up and coming and I think the next George Condo.
I bet you have visited some of the best art museums and galleries all over the world. But can you name your top 5?
The Prado Museum in Madrid, The Rijks Museum in Amsterdam, The Chinati Foundation in Marfa Texas, The Whitney Museum in New York and The Serpentine Galleries in London.
Who are the philanthropists who inspire you?
Michael Bloomberg, Ronald Lauder, Beth Rudid DeWoody, Anna Wintour, and Susan Ashner.
Any advice to entrepreneurs out there?
A no is just a yes that has not happened yet.
What book should every entrepreneur read?
There’s not one book. I would say go to law school. There’s no better tool to have then understanding the law. It just changes the way you think.
As a popular art influencer you are followed by so many people. How do you feel about that pressure of doing always the right thing, and encourage people to follow their dreams?
I don’t live my life for other people. I want to be liked, but if I was a nobody tomorrow I would still have a great career and more importantly the best family anyone could ask for.
If you are a book, what would be the title of the book and why?
‘The Prince of Bucks County’
What advice would you give to your younger self and why?
Don’t stress so much, you will meet people who understand you, and don’t talk about the Romanovs in your boarding school interview.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
I get to work every day with my father and sister, in my real job. In the art world, I get to make sure art is there for the next generation and supporting the next generation of artists.
What is your favorite healthy food?
And your favorite cheat food?
How would you explain your fashion style?
Preppy, Loud, Rock & Roll.
How would your best friend describe you?
Caring, Hardworking, Funny and Dramatic.
What’s next for Alexander Hankin in the last months of 2023?
I have a bunch of projects going on at work. Hopefully closing a few deals there. I hope to do some more writing this fall. I want to go see the Francis Hals retrospective at the National Gallery in London and spend the holidays in Aspen.
What is your own definition of happiness?
Truly loving yourself with a side of Caviar.
How is a normal day in your life?
I wake up at 5:30am, drive an hour to my office in Philadelphia and listen to an audio book, work on projects with my dad and sister, drive home, call my best friend Stefanie and my mom, then go to some event at night.
What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Sleep until 8am, have a bagel and then go to the theater.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
I wish I had met Elizabeth II. I think in her lifetime she saw more change than most people and I think it would be fascinating to hear about her life. Living? Condoleezza Rice. She’s brilliant and truly embodies the best of what this country is about.
Best advice ever given?
You need to be your own biggest champion. No one is standing around waiting for you, if you want something you need to work hard and go out and get it.
Do you support any charity?
All of the above
Name 3 things you can’t live without?
My phone, Ice Coffee, and my art collection.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
Probably with a kid, building some new industrial projects and focusing on my new art obsession of the time.
Favorite song? Why?
The Impossible Dream from The Man of La Mancha, specifically the Brian Stokes Mitchell version. I think its super powerful and about following your dreams and convictions, every time I hear it stirs up this deep emotion.
What music do you like?
70s and 80s music.
Where we can follow you?
HRH_Alexander on Instagram
Quote: “Regret to me means something that you feel you’ve done wrong and I don’t have that” I read it once in a news article and I think it’s a good motto to live by.
Favorite Singer/Artist: Abba or Fleetwood Mac
Movie: The Graduate, Kill Bill and Drop Dead Gorgeous
Travel Destination: Aspen and London
Sports Team: The Philadelphia Eagles
Tv Show: Game of Thrones, The Challenge and The Real Housewives (every franchise)