All-around miart the “Giampiero Cantoni” Acquisition Fund
Building a collection is somehow akin to an adventure of making the present for the future generations to come and, to this end, miart’s “Giampiero Cantoni” Acquisition Fund occupies the front line position. Indeed, last year’s acquisitions of works by artists Michael Krebber (b.1954, Cologne, Germany), Nick Mauss (b. 1980, New York, USA) and Irma Blank (b. 1934, Germany) stood as one among many instances of the peculiar mission towards nurturing both modern and contemporary art by Fondazione Fiera Milano.
Since its inception in 2012, the fund has paved the way for a broadminded and international discussion on what, why and for who to acquire artworks, with that special thrill of not having a stable formula for it. Yet, this is recognised as one of the fund’s most interesting aspects by Francesco Stocchi, currently Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at Boijmans Museum, Rotterdam, and formerly jury member of the “Giampiero Cantoni” Acquisition Fund in 2013 together with Sabine Folie and Nicolas Trembley: “At that time, the concern was to start composing a new fund by choosing one or more works displayed within miart. I remember the fair offered a wide selection of works realised in the timespan of a century circa, from the 1920s until today. Also, a new concept of a booth was there successfully presented, with its broader space allowing the possibility of an incisive display also for more complex works, alongside wall-based pieces and monolithic sculptures. The lack of history of the fund and the large, heterogeneous offer of miart, let many variables to be at play, which was only limited, if any, by the budget (50,000 Euro). Therefore, Sabine, Nicolas, and I decided to dedicate ourselves to finding the works, instead of searching them. Of course, this required more time, but our attitude towards surprise can be evident from the results. Indeed, we chose works by Dadamaino, Giuseppe Gabellone, Piero Gilardi, Barbara Kasten and Valerie Snobeck. If one considers these artists according to their position in the art history, the difference between an established and an emergent artist suddenly becomes obsolete.”
Kiki Kogelnik, Arm, 1965. Courtesy of the artist; and Simone Subal, New York
In retrospect, it can be argued that that initial and pioneering attitude towards an expanded chronology has become, in the recent years, the trademark of the Acquisition Fund’s agenda. As a jury member in 2015 and currently Associate Director and Senior Curator of the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at Hammer museum, Los Angeles, Allegra Pesenti affirms that “it is a very interesting and challenging approach, as much as for collectors, artists and curators. This cross-disciplinarity opens up to new perspectives and allows to discover unforeseen routes and affinities, which would be more difficult to envisage following a mere chronological way. Often, it is only through this strategy that less known or even forgotten artists are discovered or rediscovered. In addition, the works by emerging artists once put in relation with those by established artists can suggest new interpretations as well as renovate the interest towards the formers. Conversely, the combination of established and emerging artists can give greater authority to the new generations, facilitating their route to the success.”
John Divola, LAX NAZ, Forced Entries / Site 34 (Interior View A) (LAX1004F08), 1975/2006. Courtesy of the artist; and Laura Bartlett, London
It is thus no doubt that this kind of dynamic methodology can thrive in an equivalent dynamic architectural space. Miart champions indeed several carefully curated sections, such as Decades, Generations, Masters, Object and On Demand, each guaranteeing unique support for the participants and as much quality in the displays presented. Moreover, as Pesenti told us, “the curated sections facilitate a narrative presentation of the works, which stands to the advantage of both the visitor and the artists, who usually prefer seeing their work in a dedicated context.”
According to Stocchi, this trend testified for no less than “a reassessment of the art fair concept. The development of the current model has been so profound as to put into question the very meaning of an art fair. Not surprisingly, this coincided with a proliferation of the fairs in variety, quality, quantity (the satellite fairs), type (the themed fairs) and geographic scope (there are international fairs in several countries of each continent). This transformation of the fair as an exclusive marketplace to an exclusive platform for networking has been accompanied by a series of subsequent and inevitable changes in the structure of fair’s experience. The unprecedented growth experienced by the art market led it to forget the initial phases of ‘hysterical inclusivity’ for an increased competitiveness and exclusivity which, in the end, raises the quality of what is being presented at the fair, with an enhanced attention to the details and context. On the other side,” Stocchi maintains, “asking a curator to organise a section means providing an additional degree of legitimation besides the traditional one of the gallerist–a kind of ideological operation which always needs to be questioned.”
A similar skepticism is shared by Martin Germann, Senior Curator of the S.M.A.K., Ghent, and jury member of the “Giampiero Cantoni” Acquisition Fund in 2016, who wishes that “the idea of the ‘curator’ might hopefully decrease a bit in the future, so that the artists can be put central again.” Moreover, asked if the cross-chronological method of the Fund can be considered as a ruse to make a sense of the present through collecting art, Germann thinks of Giorgio Agamben’s well-known lecture What is The Contemporary? and adds that “Agamben also says that to be really contemporary someone needs distance to the here and now. Those ones who restless evaporate in the present cannot be contemporary because they cannot see the present. This is exactly the way how the miart Acquisition Fund could contribute—or, as Thomas Schütte once said: The avant-garde of today is running after.”
Annette Kelm, J’aime Paris, 2013. C-print, three parts each 76.5 x 60.5 cm, Ed. 5/6, II. Courtesy of the artist; and Giò Marconi, Milan
As of 2016, the “Giampiero Cantoni” Acquisition Fund doubled its budget to 100,000 Euro, thus reinstating even more the commitment of Fondazione Fiera Milano in building a contemporary collection of art. Confirming the budget for 2017, President at Fondazione Fiera Milano Giovanni Gorno Tempini told us that “we are pleased to support the 2017 edition of miart through our acquisitions fund. miart has now become a world-class centre for the art industry. This year, under the new artistic direction which will collect the legacy of the work done so far, we will further broaden the content and the scopes to look at the several agendas of the art market, through the dialogue between historical and recent artistic positions.” Gorno Tempini will be joined by Martin Clark, Director at Kunsthall Bergen, Bergen; Nicholas Cullinan, Director at National Portrait Gallery, London; and Letizia Ragaglia, Director at Museion, Bolzano, as members of the jury for the 2017 edition of the “Giampiero Cantoni” Acquisition Fund.
Cover image: Irma Blank, Radical Writings, Exercitium 9-8-94, 1994. Courtesy of the artist; and P420 Gallery, Bologna