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The Eye of MIART
An attentive reflection on MIART 2011, from collecting to art market. Giacinto Di Pietrantonio explains in his own words how this fair represents a new way to improve Italian art...
<b> The Eye of MIART </b>published saturday 9 April 2011

Miart is now in its 16th edition and, for the past three years, you have been curator of contemporary sector. What do you think were the positive points that this new initiative has brought to fruition over the years? 
Initially, the exhibition anticipated a wide selection of galleries but over time, and thanks to a process of reduction, we have come to choose one hundred. This has allowed us to move toward a new level of excellence and to receive widespread acclaim from its visitors.

What are the criteria you have adopted, together with the Scientific Committee, to choose which contemporary art galleries to include in the fair?
We choose from among the best galleries in Italy, through strict standards of quality and consideration of prices outside of any standard. Lower prices compared to other fairs, especially for the newer galleries that have been open for only one or two years.


This year one seems to perceive a strong "sense of patriotism" aimed at promoting the Made In Italy identity. Are these feelings motivated by current trends of celebration of the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy or do they mark a true recognition? 

When we set out to creat Miart in 2011, our only goal was to create an exhibition of Italian excellence and not to support the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of unification of Italy. It was useless to present a show like many others, or one overflowing with a large number of galleries; our aim was instead to select only a few but of high quality. The choice of the best Italian galleries thus became our strong point, in a time when there is a lot of attention with regard to Italy, its traditions and its art.

Another orientation of Miart 2011 is to support a different kind of art collecting, one described by Donald Williams (curator of modern art sector) as "non-speculative." How, in your view, might this new attitude change the relationship between supply and demand?
Well, a non-speculative collecting means collectors not buying works for resale but, in contrast, to keep and support over time, thus increasing their value. This is our aim.

MiArt - Fiera d'arte moderna e contemporanea di Milano, 2011

"Quality over quantity, " as Michele Perini (Chairman of 
Fiera Milano) seeks to make clear, appears to be the prerogative in choosing the exhibitors, but above all in choosing artists. What is your idea of "quality"? 

Yes, of course, he refers to the reduction of galleries the show has carried out. My idea of quality is expressed in implementing curatorial choices, I find that the quality is not a concept one can teach, there is no definition in my opinion. Many argue that I have "an eye" particularly in recognizing the validity of a work of art but as far as I'm concerned, no one can ignore the emotional and formal aspects. On this I am reminded of the case of artist Antonio Presicce (Porto Cesareo, 1976). When I saw his work for the first time it didnít wow me; years later, however, I had the opportunity to see his other works at an exhibition organized by the young gallery Peep-hole and I liked it so much that I decided to include the artist in a group exhibition at the Pac Museum. That episode was followed by his participation, and later victory, in the 2011 edition of the Emerging Talent Award sponsored by the CSS. That for me confirmed that I was not wrong about his work. 

Milan as the headquarters of the business of art. It is the place with the highest number of private galleries and now a fixed abode for many national and international artists. Are these facts, in your opinion, sufficient to define it, has have some people, as the "central hub for contemporary art in Europe" or do you believe other prerequisites are needed?
Add to the list also several auction houses and large percentages: 70% of the Italian art market passes from Milan. This city has all the characteristics to become number one in Europe in the field of contemporary art, but the fact that some are already convinced of this role seems absurd to me. It has good galleries, many artists, museums, a thriving art market, relevant art publishing, the Brera Academy and a strategic geographical position. All these elements have allowed it to take big steps forward and, despite the Italian economic crisis, to become an international force in design and fashion. Obviously this can become a reality with art as well, but the only thing that can slow this process, could be the lack of a system of smart strategies to create an international market.

MiArt - Fiera d'arte moderna e contemporanea di Milano, 2011

Do you believe that a city like Milan is genuinely aimed at experimentation, or do you think that it is more interested in artistic experiences already well established over time?

I think the city of Milan aims at a fair amount of experimentation and this is demonstrated by the large number of young galleries and organizations, both for-profit and non-profit. However, I am amazed that this city still has no Museum of Contemporary Art, something it should have already had for a long time and that I hope it will soon be able to claim, since the works appear to be doing well.

"The market develops where there is more experimentation, or where there are greater investments in the future." 
Do you believe that in this current historical period, more and more reluctant to encourage young people and culture, such a statement still holds true? 
Well, this is not a statement of truth but an assumption to be hoped for. The future is built through experimentation and this task is given to young galleries, which are anxious to pursue a process that will focus on its future. I think this statement is both accurate and feasible.
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by martina colajanni


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