You are on page 1of 4

VITO ABBA

CONTEMPORARY ART EXHIBITION ORGANISER
You organise contemporary art exhibitions. How did you get into the world of art?
Through my job in communications and marketing where I worked mainly in the field of contemporary art and for auction houses. I gradually started taking on organisational functions to give life to contemporary art exhibitions organised entirely by me and my staff, and to set up an auction house with associates in Florence in 1998.

Can you tell us about your different functions when organising contemporary art exhibitions?
I like to take care of all the phases: contact with the artists, choice of exhibition venue, the staging, logistics, preparation for the catalogue, supervising promotion of the event, etc. In my opinion, if you supervise every aspect it minimises the chance of mistakes being made and ensures quality is high.

Do have extensive or predominant selection criteria? Have these criteria evolved over time?
Over the years, I have realised that there are two key criteria governing my choice of the artists with whom I work. They are both very simple, but fundamental for me: the quality of the work and the quality of the person as a human being.
Vito Abba © Danish Saroee

Which artist has had the most impact on you and why?
It is difficult to name one artist among so many interesting ones. If I refer to the two criteria already mentioned, the artist who best combines them for me is Sumio Inoue, precisely because he creates works of great quality, totally original, and is a very nice person who combines creativity and precision. It is always a pleasure to meet him. At every exhibition he takes part in, like the Open Art Code group that I have the honour of coordinating, he is always praised by the public as well as his colleagues.

What would be your advice to an art lover or investor wanting to start an art collection today?
I offer two pieces of advice. For the art lover, I would say simply buy what you like; for the investor keep going to auctions and monitor the market. Obviously, the two aspects may sometimes happily coincide. It’s a reliable system which reduces the chance of disappointment. We should also add to these ingredients a little emotion: I really don’t like going to exhibitions and seeing impassive faces, where there is no reaction. It’s like seeing people in the street with headphones on, listening with half an ear to music which clearly offers no emotion or even pleasure.

Do you rely on the advice of an arts consultant, gallery owner or art critic?
No, even though I meet and work with art critics and gallery owners, I prefer to make my own choices independently. That applies both for purchasing an art work or organising an exhibition. I listen to expert advice and take the market into account, but as a guiding principle my policy is one of freedom. Christo once gave me his recipe for organising a biennial event (which of course he had no intention of organising): set a start date for registrations, and the second piece of advice is that any artist who signs up within the deadline can exhibit. A bit like the Salon des Artistes Indépendants which was based on the principle of having no admission juries (no jury and no awards). He added as a provocation: “if a work offends someone because of sex, politics, or religion, well that’s the problem of the person who feels offended.”

In your opinion, is it important to meet the artists, to visit them in their studios and immerse yourself in their universe before buying a piece?
Absolutely – a work of art is not a bundle of shares on a listed company. Sometimes, you have to get your hands dirty with a painting! Finding and getting to know artists is hugely rewarding in human terms. Some artists offer an original and unexpected vision of reality, sometimes with the eyes of a child, sometimes a little crazy. A big exhibition like World Art Vision, where artists come from all five continents, is an excellent opportunity to meet and get to know artists, to discuss their work with them without the mediation and filter of an art critic or dealer.

22 / www.luxe-immo.com

At the World Art Vision in 2008 in Cancun I had a chance to meet los Fridos artists Arturo Estrada and Arturo Garcia Bustos (Frida Kahlo’s assistants) and Rina Lazo (Diego Rivera’s assistant). Listening to their anecdotes of life with Frida and Diego Rivera is like being immersed in recent art history, in the cultural life of the 20th century and at the same time having the final testimony of their mural painting techniques, which began with a study of frescoes from Antiquity and the Renaissance. Another experience which I remember with pleasure was Fernando Botero’s exhibition at the Piazza Signoria in Florence in 1999. Mr Botero is a great artist, a real professional, a true gentleman and very attentive to the success of his exhibitions. In the days leading up to the exhibition he was among the first to arrive at the Uffizi Gallery at 5am to oversee positioning of his monumental bronze sculptures.

new technology. When it gets more difficult to bring the public to exhibitions you have to create new forms of contact. For example, in December 2012 at Art Basel in Miami I am bringing with me the Studio Abba Yearbook, a sort of catalogue/magazine which brings together major events organised by Studio Abba in 2012 and presents, among the artists I work with, some that I consider to be the most interesting. The publication will be sent to more than 900 recipients worldwide in galleries, museums, art critics, collectors and so on.

Our magazine is based on an alliance between emerging contemporary art and luxury real estate. Do you think it’s pertinent to unite these two themes?
Absolutely, they go hand in hand almost. A question that I often hear asked by people weighing up a work of art is: “But would you put that in your home?” A good percentage of art purchases are by people who already know which wall they are going to hang the painting. The person who buys luxury properties is usually in a position to choose the most beautiful furniture and can relish in the pleasure of selecting the most appropriate art works.

The art market has changed a great deal these last few years. How does the new economic reality affect the organisation of your exhibitions?
The crisis has affected everyone’s behaviour. While it may be difficult for artists to sell their work, it’s a good time for collectors. Take antiques as an example: today you can buy antiques at a lower price than ten years ago, so it’s a good time to buy. What I have been trying to do these last few years is to tackle new markets like China, to organise exhibitions in unconventional places, to monitor very closely the relationship between art, science and

Paul Conrad

World Art Vision Barcelona in 2011 © Danish Saroee

World Art Vision Barcelona in 2011 © Danish Saroee

Open Art Code artists in front of The Royal Academy in London

www.luxe-immo.com / 23

Piece by Eugenio Riotto in the Giardino Garzoni and Parco di Pinocchio at Collodi in Tuscany

24 / www.luxe-immo.com

Performance by Nam Hong at the World Art Vision party in Madrid in 2012

Performance by Marely Becerra at the World Art Vision party in Madrid in 2012

Open Art Code Paris at the Grand Palais

Arturo Estrada, Rina Lazo and Arturo Garcia Bustos at the 2008 World Art Vision © Danish Saroee

Arturo Estrada (student and assistant to Frida Kahlo) and Vito Abba at the 2008 World Art Vision in Cancun

www.luxe-immo.com / 25

Related Interests