Home Magazine MeetMe#7 | In conversation with Umberta Gnutti Beretta

I MeetMee --> Rossella Farinotti in conversation with Umberta Gnutti Beretta...

In the last years your practice activity as collector and supporter of contemporary art has been developing on different layers. It goes from a private collecting to a public one – I am thinking, for instance, to the great and ambitious project with Christo for the site-specific installation The Floating Piers in 2016 – with historical artists and also emergent ones, as the recent show you sustained with the photographer Lady Tarin at Palazzo Monti in Brescia. Have you always been developing the passion towards contemporary art, or the interest came later?

I have always had a great passion towards art. I would have done an art high school, but my dad and my uncle told me “you have to learn languages because it is fundamental”. And then, at University I was tempted again, but everybody suggested to study economics and business. I am actually happy that I did this, that I followed these pieces of advice because I could cultivate my art passion without any difficulties. When I was eighteen, as a present for my new age, while almost everyone asked for a car as a gift … I asked for a painting.  


Christo e Jeanne-Claude, The Floating Piers, 2016, Lake Iseo.


During your path as a cultural promoter, have you ever been particularly involved into a specific project or work of art?  

For sure the greater project that I followed since its beginning, and I dedicated most of the time and that reached a wide audience, it is Christo’s project, but I am very satisfied by other projects too. From my role as President of the Restoration Club, or as Councillor of Poldi Pezzoli Museum in Milan, or again of Montblanc Prize for culture, I could finance projects as Giulio Paolini solo show at Poldi Pezzoli (2016), the spread exhibition “Brixia contemporary”(2017) with works by Mimmo Paladino all over the city of Brescia, that we realized with Fondazione Brescia Musei, or the sponsorship of Padiglione Italia, curated by Cecilia Alemani with three amazing works by Italian artists in 2017; or, again, the work “A friend” (2019) by Ibrahim Mahama that was in Milan thanks to Fondazione Trussardi, whose work I appreciate and sustain. I am totally satisfied by lots of works of art that I commissioned throughout these years and happy about some that I’ve acquired too… it is a long list. It’s not easy to choose.



Poldi Pezzoli Museum, Giulio Paolini, 2016, installation view.


Ibrahim Mahama, A Friend, 2019. Installation view, Caselli Daziari di Porta Venezia. Courtesy domus.


Do you have galleries, museums or institutions as references when you have to choose a piece to acquire?

I use to acquire works during auctions, charity events… and directly from artists. Lately, the last works I got all came from private galleries. 

In Italy, contemporary art has been a precious driving force for brands, companies and entrepreneur in the past. Great realities such as Olivetti, Ratti, la Rinascente… they strictly collaborated with artists, architects and intellectuals of the period.  Do you think that today this attitude could be re-activated? 

Absolutely. The borders are more and more vague today. A company that has to sell a product could for sure replace expected ways to work and “use” the art world to promote its own business. It can commission works of art by donating them to public spaces, asking artists to give their personal vision on the product, that won’t never been finalized to a commercial purpose, but that will represent a cultivated and interesting point of view. Another way could be to organize events in venues dedicated to art instead of using its offices … the ways are limitless and they could represent a great occasion to include different people. To offer experiences could be a winning formula too and art grants to give memories.  

Which advice would you give to a young or an emergent collector that approaches the art system today?

To be not “only” a collector, but to promote art by creating philanthropy and investing in projects, not only in a single artwork. 

Cover images: A portrait of Umberta Gnutti Beretta, Credit Photo by SGP | Christo e Jeanne-Claude, The Floating Piers, 2016, Lake Iseo.


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