Meet 5 aspiring collectors who are ushering in a new era in the art market in Italy

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A new generation of Italian collectors gives the country’s art scene an international dimension. With an insatiable curiosity about art that arises both in Italy and elsewhere, these collectors actively support artists of their own nationality while also being interested in artists from other cultures.

Some come from cultural families and began collecting as teenagers after they had already given works of art or received them through inheritance. Others have drawn to art out of passion, sometimes against their family’s grain.

It is noticeable that these collectors wear several hats – be it through an artist residence, an art and architecture platform or a consulting company. Collecting is not a sideline, but inextricably linked to your daily work. Their dedication to collecting is all the more notable given that Italy was hit hard during the pandemic.

Nicoletta Rusconi

Nicoletta Rusconi

Age: According to Hermann Hesse, Rusconi has “entered the third phase of life”.

What’s in the collection: Painting, sculpture, photography, ceramics, textiles and site-specific installations. Include artists Simone Fattal, Valentin Carron, Katharina Fritsch, Christiane Löhr, Ariel Schlesinger, Mathieu Mercier, Igshaan Adams, Petrit Halilaj, Latifa Echakhch, Flavio Favelli, Jonathan Monk, Luigi Ghirri, Vanessa Safavi, Sheila Hicks, Tomás Sarace .no, Eva Kotát White , and Thomas De Falco.

Distinguishing feature: Rusconi has long been dedicated to promoting artists and collaborating with institutions. She previously owned a photo gallery, Fotografia Italiana, which was later renamed to the name of the same name to represent contemporary artists. Today she heads Nicoletta Rusconi Art Projects. This has grown into an exhibition space and artist residence, Cascina IDEA, in a restored farmhouse in the Piedmontese countryside. Rusconi’s latest project is an Instagram profile called ARTbite, which advertises artworks for € 300 ($ 347) and € 3,000 ($ 3,473). Rusconi seeks a “therapeutic value” in art. She says: “I buy with the heart and my collection contains everything that has moved me over the years. For me, collecting is life; it breathes. “

Where she shops: Kaufmann Repetto (Milan), Massimo Minini (Brescia), Francesca Minini (Milan) and Eva Presenhuber (Zurich) as well as at fairs such as Miart, Art Basel, List, FIAC and Frieze.

Fun fact: Rusconi had a revelation in 2002 when she visited the Barnett Newman exhibition at Tate Modern and was moved to tears by the artist Stations of the Cross minimal painting. “I knew that my heart showed me a way and that I wanted to follow it.”

Social media profile: @nicolettarusconi_artistmia @artbite_project

Andrea Festa

Andrea Festa

Age: 38

What’s in the collection: Around 70 works from the 1990s, mostly consisting of photography and painting. Festa describes his collection as “very trendy and colorful, a mixture of figuration and abstraction”. The artists are Axel Hütte, Angel Ortiz, Gavin Kenyon, Marc Quinn, Takashi Murakami, Sterling Ruby, Adam McEwan, Evan Holloway, Maureen Gallace, Karen Kilimnik, Barnaby Furnas, Sherrie Levine, Michael Craig-Martin, Günther Förg, Louise Giovanelli and Elad Lassry.

Distinguishing feature: Festa runs an art consultancy, Andrea Festa Fine Art, and bravely opened a gallery in his apartment in Rome last year during the pandemic. “The classic concept of a gallery is in crisis because the online experience is destroying the traditional gallery,” says Festa. “I have a nice, classic apartment in the center of Rome and my gallery is focused on paintings.” Festa views collecting as something obsessed with: after first collecting comics at the age of 10, he began collecting music and movies on VHS and DVDs as a teenager before turning to art in his twenties.

Where to buy: Peres Projects (Berlin), Frutta (Rome), Rodolphe Janssen (Brussels), Ghebaly Gallery (Los Angeles) and at auction houses such as Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips.

Fun fact: Festa studied theater and at the same time studied pharmacology. He has been working as a pharmacist for nine years and sharpens his eye as a collector.

Social media profile: @andreafestafineart

Edoardo Monti

Edoardo Monti.  Photo: Federica Simoni.

Edoardo Monti. Photo: Federica Simoni

Age: 29

What’s in the collection: Mostly works created by artists in their thirties and forties from the 2000s onwards. The artists include Bea Bonafini, Sara Anstis, Andrea Bocca, Torbjørn Rødland, Sabine Marcelis, Soft Baroque, Gideon Rubin, Silas Inoue, Thomas Braida, Flora Yukhnovich and Chloe Wise. “What made me want to support her practice was the opportunity to get to know her personally,” says Monti.

Distinguishing feature: Monti supports up-and-coming artists through the residency program he founded in 2017 at Palazzo Monti in Brescia. His family had acquired the magnificent 13th century palace a few decades earlier and Monti had the palazzo and its 18th century frescoes restored. In the last four years, 180 artists have completed a residency. “The artists are free, but not legally obliged, to leave behind works of art such as a sculpture or a photo,” says Monti. “Our goal is to have fewer artists, but for longer periods of time, and to give them more financial support.”

Where to buy: The Hole (New York), Marc Straus (New York), Massimo Minini (Brescia), Monitor (Rome) and Rolando Anselmi (Rome).

Fun fact: Monti inherited a Fortunato Depero tapestry from his grandfather and then made his first acquisition – multiples of Vanni Cuoghi – at the age of 14 after graduation at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, he worked for eight years as communications manager for Stella McCartney in London and New York.

Social media profile: @edoardomonti

Lorenzo Perini-Natali

Lorenzo Perini-Natali

Age: 31

What’s in the collection: Around 75 works from painting, drawing and photography, with a focus on emerging Italian artists and works by international artists that have been created since 2000. The artists include Peter Dreher, Dana Lok, Paul Kremer, Yngve Holen, Andrea Galvani, Andy Woll, Michael Kagan, Wolfgang Tillmans, Tony Lewis, Bertrand Lavier, David Ostrowski, Will Boone, Andrei Molodkin, Alice Ronchi, Margherita Moscardini, Linda Carrara, Francesco De Prezzo, William Kentridge and Vincenzo Castella.

Distinguishing feature: Perini-Natali’s family founded an industrial group and this ecological background shaped his taste and the spread of shades of blue and gray and references to industrial objects in his collection. At the age of 24 he started visiting artist studios and did extensive research on the artists that interested him. “I really believe the collection has to be a mirror of the collector,” he says.

Where to buy: Clima Gallery (Milan), Massimo De Carlo (Milan / London / Hong Kong / Paris), David Zwirner, Galerie Neu (Berlin), Bill Brady Gallery (Kansas City), König Galerie (Berlin), Eduardo Secci (Florence / Milan), Galleria Massimo Minini (Brescia), Lia Rumma (Milan).

Fun fact: After working for his family’s company, Perini-Natali studied fine arts at NABA, the New Academy of Fine Arts in Milan. He has a Masters in Contemporary Art Markets – his thesis on art and industry – and completed an internship at Sotheby’s, Milan.

Social media profile: @perini_natali

Oliva Sartago

Oliva Sartago

Age: 29

What’s in the collection: Over 30 works by international artists, including Anri Sala, Walead Beshty, Antony Gormley, Haroon Mirza, Tomás Saraceno, Pietro Ruffo and Maria Lai.

Distinguishing feature: Sartago, who lives in London, has been purchasing two works of art a year since she was 16 years old. Your parents are them Architects Piero Sartogo and Nathalie Grenon who worked on projects with artists like Alighiero Boetti. She grew up watching art fairs and her knowledge of architecture influenced her sensitivity to art.

Where she shops: Chantal Crousel (Paris), Lisson Gallery (London), Pace (London) and Kewenig (Berlin).

Fun fact: As director of art and architecture at Superblue (which creates “experience-based” art installations), Sartago commissioned the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto to create it Forest of space in dialogue with Drift’s shy synchrony Installation at Design Miami / Basel in September. In 2018 she worked with Phillips on a project for which she asked eight architects, from Norman Foster to Alessandro Mendini, to each design a carpet.

Social media profile: @oliva_sartogo

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