To Dream, to Collect

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Passion, fun and enthusiasm in Edoardo Monti’s choices about contemporary art… Kooness team had a conversation with the enthusiastic Edoardo Monti, a passionate collector of young artists from all over the world who founded Palazzo Monti, a residency program in Brescia in 2017.

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Palazzo Monti, Brescia. Photo Credit Federica Simoni

 

Edoardo, you have been dealing with emerging artists since 2017. The following year you decided to entirely dedicate yourself to the passion towards art and design. Is that right?

That’s right! At the time I was living in New York, working in Communication, and Palazzo Monti has been launched on March 2017, following a year of preparation and setup. After a successful year, in 2018 I decided to leave my career in Communication and come back to Italy, where I hadn’t been living since 2010, to fully dedicate my life to artists and designers.

The idea of a residency program started from the aesthetic of Palazzo Monti, an ancient Palace in the old city center of Brescia town. Do you think that the beauty of this place is important for an artist’s creation?

Definitely, and while now artists come to Palazzo Monti due to the reputation that we are slowly, yet steadily, building internationally, the first artists were interested by the unique interior and setting, which still today provide an incredible inspiration to residents and visitors. The palazzo is absolutely challenging, as any 800-year old building can be, with rooms that are completely different from one to another and studio spaces that are not quite common. But when artists manage to embrace the differences, then the best results come out of their residencies. 

Does Palazzo Monti have a Board Committee that decide its guests? How does the call for the residency program work? And how many artists can be invited? 

We have a Board of Directors, whose members are based in New York, London/Paris, Brescia and Seoul. On a monthly basis we all access the applications at the same time and proceed in voting what we believe are the best artists. The selection process is very democratic, as it comes down to a mathematical vote with a minimum to be reached, but the meeting allows us to also discuss particularly interesting artists and at the same time propose to invite others that may have not applied yet. In order to apply, artists submit a portfolio and resume, along with a motivational statement, and we usually get back to them within 6-8 weeks from their application. We are equipped to welcome up to 6 artists at the same time.

 

Palazzo Monti, Ossessione, exhibition view. Photo Credit Federica Simoni.

 

In the last year you also developed an exhibitions program. When did you notice that it was time for group or solo shows at Palazzo Monti? Are you the curator of these shows?

With the growing numbers of visitors and supporters, we felt the need to elevate the cultural offer and create an exhibition program. Most of the works shown so far were made by artists in residence, and we are proud to be able to offer a chance to showcase the hard work and production of the residencies. For our latest show, OSSESSIONE, we invested more time and energy, gathering works from galleries and artists that haven’t done residencies yet (out of 8 artists, only 2 completed residencies with us) and, also, went as far as acquiring some works for the show. Most are curated by me, but we also often collaborate with external curators such as Katy Hessel of The Great Women Artists and Francesca Ceccherini, with more collaborations in sight for 2020.

 

                         

 

Images from left to right: Palazzo Monti, Ossessione, exhibition view. Photo Credit Federica Simoni/Palazzo Monti, Studio, Photo Credit Federica Simoni.

Edoardo, you once, during a lesson at Ca’ Foscari in Venice, said that you started to work in the contemporary art system as a collector. How do you manage this important role? 

I am not formally educated on the art world. Most of my experience and knowledge has come from travelling, collecting, visiting artists, shows, fairs and meeting other inspiring members of this exciting world. My initial approach was in fact through my interest for collecting, which started approximately when I was 14. When I moved first to London then to New York, that was when the opportunities offered by those incredible cities led me to focus on being a serious collector. It’s still a passion that I carry along as much as I can, and it’s an important drive that encourages me very often to continue supporting artists that I believe in.

How do you usually choose the artists for your own collection?

I honestly haven’t yet acquired works with the sole goal of achieving an investment. The most important drive is, first of all, the primary visual impact, followed, when possible, by a chat with the artists. I find myself not into acquiring works of artists that I can’t fully trust and respect. A look at their resume and career path is always interesting, but I always find that the emotions that an artwork gives me whenever I look at it is the most important element that I look for when collecting.

Being a collector requires various values: passion, knowledge, a certain sensitivity and, of course, money. Do you agree? What advice would you give to a new collector?

I definitely agree on passion, as being a collector is somehow a full-time job that can’t be taught at school or acquired by others. I also agree on sensitivity, as the art world is full of unwritten rules that also can’t be taught at school or by a book. Knowledge though is something that is built over time, and I think it’s ok to start collecting what gives you positive emotions first and acquiring with more knowledge as time passes. I don’t agree so much on the money aspect, or rather I think that luckily there are still so many incredible artists out there, in need of support, that are still very much affordable. Of course, a steady income allows collectors to play this role without worries, but if we consider a collector as someone with passion, knowledge and sensitivity that also supports artists he believes in with the budget that he is allowed, then the goal is achieved!

Cover image: Edoardo Monti, Portrait. Photo Credit Federica Simoni.

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