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Sophia Penske, Founder, Penske Projects + Advisor, Gagosian Art Advisory


“I grew up in Los Angeles, and then I went to college at Cornell. I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. At one point, I thought I might want to do something in fashion after interning at Teen Vogue. Art was not on my radar at all until I took a visual studies class in school. At that point, I had no idea art dealers or advisors were a thing, but I was intrigued by the business side of it.

After graduating with a degree in art history, I got a job working for gallerist Michael Altman, who had kind of become a mentor after I interned for him during my junior year of college. He brought me everywhere with him, so I got to learn so much. He later introduced me to Emmanuel Di Donna, the founder of Di Donna Galleries, and I was his gallery assistant for about six months, before returning to Michael for another year.

After that, the owners of Spring Place asked me to curate their opening in LA. I only had three months to do it, and along with a friend of mine, I had to convince all of these LA artists—some of whom we literally contacted through Instagram—to loan out their pieces. We were able to have work from artists like David Sutherland, Sayre Gomez, and Gregory Siff. Doing that, I met a lot of people and artists and decided to start my own company, Penske Projects.

Originally, I wanted to start a brick-and-mortar gallery in LA. But then I landed on a pop-up model to showcase art in different places. I wanted my company to focus on living artists—and especially those that are emerging. That’s the art that I like to collect for my home, too. I have a big piece by Honor Titus that he made in 2019. Umar Rashid was one of my first purchases. The pink piece is by Sissòn. I also love the work of Salomón Huerta. I could keep going forever. [Laughs]

My most recent exhibition opened in Paris last month at Ketabi Bourdet. It’s called Body Double, and it’s based on the 1984 film directed by Brian De Palma. A body double is used to replace the actor for stunts or nude scenes, so the show focuses on figurative painting and representation of the body. It features the work of a lot of LA artists like Laura Watters, Sissòn, Max Xeno Karnig, and Kayla Witt, but also some European artists like Cecilia de Nisco, Inès Longevial, and Mie Olise Kjærgaard.


I have dry skin and I was really lucky to not have had acne growing up, but when I went off birth control maybe a year ago, my skin started breaking out. I didn’t know how to handle it, so I began seeing Amanda June, one of the facialists at VH Skincare Clinic. She’s incredible and has really helped me.

I started using the Brave Soldier Clean Skin Gentle Cleanser around six months ago. I wash my face twice both in the morning and at night because my skin’s pretty acneic now. If it’s feeling extra clogged, I’ll add in iS Clinical’s Cleansing Complex Polish. Otherwise, I just use it once a week.

Every morning—and sometimes at night, if my skin feels really dry—I use Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Hyaluronic Serum. I love Dr. Kanodia’s Amla Peptide Serum at night, too. I also discovered that I can’t use the Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum all over my face—I think it was too thick for my skin—but I love it under my eyes. The Eye Patches from Augustinus Bader are really great if you went out the night before and need to perk up in the morning. They really help reduce any puffiness.


The End-Zit Acne Control Drying Lotion—I use Light/Medium—is so good if you have a pimple. It’s tinted so you can put it on in the morning, and it dries out the spot. Earlier this year, Amanda recommended that I start using retinol. I wear the lowest dose—0.25—from SkinMedica. I do a light layer all over my face. It’s been amazing because it didn’t give me any of the flakiness that sometimes comes with retinol.

Throughout the day, I love spritzing myself with the Caudalié Beauty Elixir. I carry a mini of it with me. It not only makes my skin feel good but it also makes me feel more awake, too. I spray it on everyone around me.

When it comes to moisturizers, I love Augustinus Bader’s The Cream. I tried The Rich Cream, but it was too heavy for me and broke out my skin. And then I use the Multi Moisture Mask from Sonsie Skin as a moisturizer sometimes, especially on planes. Felipe, Marie von Behrens-Felipe's husband, is my friend, so I know that I sound biased, but it really is amazing.

I have a lot of different sunscreens. EltaMD’s UV Physical SPF 41 is great because it’s lightly tinted and I don’t wear foundation. It makes your skin look amazing but not shiny. I’m careful not to bring it down to my neck though because I don’t want to stain my clothes. Instead, I use NUXE’s Sun SPF 50 Lotion for my neck—and all over really. It smells really good. Throughout the day, I reapply sunscreen with the Vacation Super Spritz SPF 50 Face Mist.


I really like Bioderma’s Atoderm Shower Gel because it’s light. Every two weeks or so—there’s no rhyme or reason to it—I exfoliate my whole body with Goop’s GOOPGLOW Microderm Instant Glow Body Polish. My brother actually gave it to me. I like that it rubs off quite easily because some scrubs are nearly impossible to get off. My skin is always so soft after I use it.

I don’t use body lotion that often, but if I do, I usually grab the Eucerin Baby Eczema Relief Cream. My arms get bumpy sometimes and the skin there is really sensitive, so it’s a baby product for me. [Laughs] I should probably wear it every day, but I’m always running late and don’t have the time. If I want something thicker, usually if I’m sunburnt, I go for La Mer’s Reparative Body Lotion.


I love the Jones Road makeup brushes—truly all of them; they’re amazing. I use the Everything Brush for concealer. I don’t know if I’m supposed to, but I do. It’s every ’everything,’ right? [Laughs] I use the Skin Brush for contouring, which makeup artist Victoria Tyson showed me how to do a year ago. I’ve learned a lot from her and Setsuko Tate, who’s incredible and will often do my makeup in LA.

If I’m doing my own makeup, my go-to look is really fresh and dewy and natural. I start off with the Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Hydrating Face Primer—it really does live up to its name.

I use the Dior Forever Skin Correct Full-Coverage Concealer in 1 Neutral for my under eyes and chin. Then I bring the Clé de Peau Radiant Corrector for Eyes in Beige with me everywhere and apply it throughout the day if I need it. It’s amazing. This is random, but sometimes I put a bit of the Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter in 1 Fair under my eyes, and sometimes my eyelids and nose, to make them brighter. And every once in a while, I’ll switch out my actual concealers for Erborian’s Super BB Au Ginseng Cream SPF 20 to cover up spots. I make up my own rules. [Laughs]


For bronzer, I love Rare Beauty’s Warm Wishes Effortless Bronzer Stick; I use shade Bright Side. Victoria taught me to draw a ‘3’ starting on my forehead, down to my cheeks. And I really love a rosy look, and Merit’s Flush Balm Blush in Cheeky, a cool pink, is perfect for it. But my everyday go-to is the blush pink shade from the Dior BackStage Glow Face Palette. That said, if I don’t want any shimmer, I’ll grab the Jones Road Miracle Balm in Flushed instead. It gives you more of a natural, ‘I just woke up’ vibe. If I start to look a little pale as the day goes on, I’ll put a dot of the Benefit Benetint on my cheeks, lips, and sometimes my nose. Then, Saie’s Glowy Super Gel in the original Starglow shade is a great highlighter. Someone told me to dot a bit on my brow bone because it brightens your eyes, and it’s such a great tip.

Thrive Cosmetics’ Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara is so good that I’ve probably bought about 20 tubes. I have tiny eyelashes, and it really works for me. I actually used to hate mascara because I felt like I could never get it off properly and I would look like a raccoon the next day, but this one is so easy to get off. It’s a tubing formula, so you just splash some water on your face and pull it off. I use it every single day. If I go out at night, I’ll add a layer of Dior’s Diorshow Pump ‘N’ Volume Mascara.

I just started using Byredo’s Corporate Colors 5 Eyeshadow palette. I don’t know how to use proper eyeliner, so I use the brown shade for a bit of a wing. It doesn’t look great sometimes, but when it does, it’s good. [Laughs]


For my brows, I start off with Glossier’s Brow Flick in Brown. Sometimes I get too aggressive with it and make big lines, but I do my best to go very lightly. [Laughs] Every once in a while, I’ll rotate it with Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Brow Wiz Ultra-Slim Precision Brow Pencil in Medium Brown. I really like the spoolie on it. Then I go over them with the Merit Brow 1980 Volumizing Eyebrow Pomade Gel in Brown, which I love because it pushes your brows up.

I’m obsessed with the Dior Addict Lip Glow Oil in Cherry. It doesn’t dry out your lips at all. And I recently started using the Dr. Lara Devgan Platinum Lip Plump—it’s crazy how well it works. When I was in Paris, I found Homeoplasmine Ointment. It’s the best lip balm out there. It’s a little thicker than Aquaphor. If I have a dry patch on my face, I use it there, too, and it doesn’t make me break out.


My hair’s really thin, so I love that David Mallet’s Shampoo No. 2 Le Volume really does make my hair more voluminous. I use it every other day. I pair it with the Olaplex Nº.5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner. My mom gave me little samplers for Christmas last year, and I really liked it. It’s helped my hair a lot; it looks shinier. I’ve been taking biotin capsules for about six months to try and make it thicker, but we’ll see if it does that. I’ve actually been thinking about going to Hårklinikken, the hair specialists, because it used to be thicker.

If I do my own hair for an event, I’ll put it in a bun. I truly can’t wear my hair down because I don’t know how to straighten it or curl it. I’ve learned to rely on Crown Affair’s Finishing Gel for a slick bun or ponytail. If I’ve gotten a blowout and my hair is down, I spray David Mallett’s Spray No. 2 Le Volume all over. I flip my hair upside down, and spray. That’s it. Well, the day after my blowout, I’ll add in David Mallet’s Australian Salt Spray if I want a beachy look. It also smells incredible.

My hair’s naturally medium dark, but I like to go darker. I forget the last time I colored—it must’ve been at the beginning of the year—but I usually go to David Mallet because I’m in Paris pretty often. Evelyne at his salon colors it, and she’s so good at making my highlights look natural. And then David does my actual cut, which is usually pretty simple.


My favorite perfumes lean towards the traditionally ‘feminine’ scents. My mom wore Portrait of a Lady by Frédéric Malle for a while, and I stole it from her. [Laughs] I love it, and I usually wear it every day. I also love Idle Hour, the collab between Ex Nihilo and Amanda Charchian, an artist who was actually in my LA Woman show with PhillipsX in March.

Home-wise, I love Fornasetti candles and use the vessels for my makeup brushes and toothbrush when I’m done with them. They’re so beautiful. Kelly Wearstler gave me a large Orange Blossom Candle for my birthday recently. It’s so pretty, and it smells amazing.”

—As told to Daise Bedolla

Photographed by Brittany Bravo in Los Angeles on November 5, 2023