Giuseppe Iannaccone: Here's how I promote the art of young people

Studio Iannaccone is resuming its "In Practice" program, the schedule of exhibitions with which collector Giuseppe Iannaccone promotes the art of young artists. How does he do this? We delve deeper into this topic in this interview.

OnSeptember 17, 2022 opened at Studio Iannaccone in Milan, with the exhibition Caos Calmo by young Chiara Di Luca and Aronne Pleuteri, the eighth edition of the project In pratica, which offers emerging artists the opportunity to exhibit through a process similar to the “practice” that young lawyers carry out. For the first time, however, the young artists chosen had to share space and dialogue with works from the 1930s collection of Giuseppe Iannaccone, who, in this interview, tells us where the idea came from and what efforts are being made to promote young people entering this difficult world. The collection of Giuseppe Iannaccone, a respected Milanese lawyer, was born from a dream and a personal challenge. The dream of creating a space full of works from his beloved 1930s that includes great names such as Aligi Sassu, Scipione Bonichi and Renato Guttuso. And the very personal challenge of uniting, with them, new emerging artists creating a space in continuous dialogue, which only demonstrates how two seemingly distant and incompatible eras are extremely similar. The project In Practice, aimed at connecting these two worlds, was born in 2015. The current exhibition Caos Calmo is curated by Giuseppe Iannaccone, Daniele Fenaroli and Gloria Vergani.

Giuseppe Iannaccone
Giuseppe Iannaccone

FG. You are an esteemed lawyer who founded the law firm of the same name. Here, what were the steps that led you to make the decision to become a patron and collector of art?

GI. I started law practice when I was 27 years old, I had no clients, just a consuming passion for my profession. It went well, all too well, and it felt like living a fairy tale. I then went through a phase, in my personal experience, with a bit of anxiety, an anxiety that I believed I could overcome by detaching myself a bit from thoughts of the profession and found art again. It worked very well. So much so that I continue to buy art books and study. When I had the opportunities, even buying art gave me great serenity and strength to face the difficulties of the profession. Art has become a companion; it is an unbreakable marriage that has no crisis.

Your collection, born from a great passion for art between the two wars, has been expanded over the years by adding works of contemporary art, becoming a mixture of two totally different eras. How do these two souls coexist with each other? And how did the passion for art of young men and women artists arise?

I buy everything I like. I started with a collection from the 1930s and then, with great continuity, contemporary art was added. I search for emotions and do not consider them two separate collections, but one collection because one represents the roots and the other represents the flowers, but it is one plant that continues to sprout. The emotions I get from artists like Birolli and Scipione are coincident with the emotions I get from contemporary artists. Trying to create a collection with young artists, let’s say it was a challenge. It’s a characteristic of my character to always question myself, and I consider myself the fiercest critic of myself, so at the time when I was looking for and buying art from the 1930s, I told myself, “You have to stimulate yourself more and look at the contemporary.” It was a challenge to myself. And from that very challenge, I realized the wonder that is contemporary art. The biggest challenge for a collector is to identify those artists who will remain in history and not those artists who will be more valuable.

On the gallery’s website he told how he would rather have a masterpiece by a lesser-known artist than a lesser work by a master. What works or artwork do you hold most dear to your heart?

I have always thought so and I will always think so. You don’t write history because of the names of artists, you write history according to the works that marked the artistic events of a particular period. It is the masterpieces that make art history, not the names of the artists. I only want masterpieces in my collection and, above all, I need works that excite me. The name of the artist matters relatively to me. I am willing to spend even more than the market value in order to have the masterpiece because that is what stays forever, everything else disappears. I don’t have a particular work that I care more about than others because they are all necessary to me. Of course, there are works, such as Scipio’s that move me a little more. When I am in front of one of his works, I find myself thinking and feeling immense tenderness.

In previous exhibitions, young artists were confronting those who were their contemporaries, and for the first time they were invited to relate to His works from the 1930s. How did this idea come about?

The comparison came out of a lifelong conviction of mine. Art of the 1930s and contemporary art, are in fact, in very close relationship. I did not just want to challenge young artists by comparing them with others, but I wanted to claim the quality of the 1930s and show how many similarities there are in these two precise historical moments.

Given your appreciation and research of young artists, can you tell us how you try to promote them?

I try to promote them, not only by giving them my space to exhibit works, but also, by trying to make them known and noticed by as wide an audience as possible, including through exhibitions in public spaces, never lending them to private galleries. Recently, for example, I bought a painting in America and left it with the gallery to allow it to be viewed by a wider audience. I offer young people a kind of sounding board and help them catch the passing train. For example, last year I came up with an exhibition in a church in Corniglia by a young artist, Iva Lulashi, which was very successful and many newspapers talked about it. Initiatives to spread and promote young artists, there will always be on my part and are a source of great pride.

You mentioned that the Giuseppe Iannaccone Collection is a “container of stories, a look at the world and an extraordinary document of the present.” How do you find the right work? What are they, the characteristics that a work of art must have to enter your collection?

I don’t look at all contemporary art, but only those artists who express this emotionality, this passion, this essence of the human being that I need. It’s like an eternal embrace of humanity. And these are the artists that I look for, the ones that move me and that I think deserve to have that famous place in art history. I search piece by piece. To a dead collector, it happens that they do an exhibition of his collection, so that to a living collector, they did six exhibitions is a great pride.

What are the prospects, predictions and wishes for the future? Of the collection and the young artists?

I would like the contemporary collection to be as well known as the one from the 1930s is, and for the international reality to have its own public exhibition and make it known. For the one from the 1930s, however, I have a dream in the drawer that is a permanent exhibition in the city of Milan. I believe that this is a collection that tells an important piece of the history of Italians and therefore it should be available to the citizens. I sincerely hope to succeed; I am working hard on it.

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