BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

Ilaria Bonacossa

Director of Artissima

Ilaria Bonacossa. Photo: Giorgio Perottino/ Artissima
Ilaria Bonacossa. Photo: Giorgio Perottino/ Artissima

Tell us a little bit about the history of Artissima.

Artissima was founded in 1994 when there were only about 15 important fairs, whereas today there are about 150. Artissima has always had a curatorial approach, for various reasons: because the directors were also curators, and because it was one of the first fairs to include curated sections and conferences, a strategy that has now become mainstream. For example, Artissima launched Back to the Future, the section of the fair for the rediscovery of less famous artists, now at its 10th year. Furthermore, in 26 years the fair has gained a reputation for its focus on experimentation and the pursuit of new artistic visions, for the coexistence of multiple and often contrasting approaches, for the critical scouting eye of gallerists who are writing the future of art history, and for the courage of the curators ready to wager on talent and not on the marketable appeal of artists. Artissima has kept faith with its mission of discovering new talents, on one side, and of supporting the rediscovery of the overlooked ones on the other. For this, we need to thank the great galleries that have kept coming to Torino and believing in the fair, and the Italian and international collectors who are willing to wager on new talent.

How do you, as fair director, ensure that the event stays contemporary and current in the fast-paced world that is the art market?

Artissima is a vital ecosystem composed of galleries that take part in the fair, and partners with whom we activate various special projects, some during the week of the fair and others throughout the year, offering a diverse programme for art world professionals as well as for the general public. Since my appointment in 2017 I have tried to emphasize this 360-degree approach, focusing on the curatorial and experimental character of the event, while also broadening its practice through specific projects developed with our partners and with emerging and established artists. It is interesting to collaborate with artists in the production of new works for a brand, protecting the artist’s freedom while helping the brand gain visibility through contemporary art. These initiatives come about in collaboration with the galleries to create further opportunities for the presentation of their artists to collectors, sector professionals and the general public. I believe it is important to experiment with new approaches, to understand how the fair model can be transformed, making it increasingly responsive to the needs of galleries, the interests of collectors and directors of art institutions. We want to convince them that in the intense worldwide calendar of contemporary art, Torino is an event not to be missed.

Artissima, Torino, 2018. Photo: Perottino-Piva-Bottallo/ Artissima
Artissima, Torino, 2018. Photo: Perottino-Piva-Bottallo/ Artissima

Is there something in this year’s program that you are particularly looking forward to?

I am particularly pleased with this 2019 edition for the return of exceptional galleries I admire, for the curators and all art professionals involved in various ways in our committees, juries and off-site projects. This year the fair expands into the city with original and innovative projects, in line with the 'fil rouge' of this edition, the desire/censorship dichotomy. Among others, Abstract Sex: We don’t have any clothes, only equipment will occupy the spaces of Jana, a historic boutique in Torino. Poised between an action of piracy and an exhibition, the project – curated by Lucrezia Calabrò Visconti and Guido Costa – will offer a selection of works focused on the theme of desire in a society impacted by complex gender transformation.

Artissima Telephone, the second off-site project created for and with the OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni museum, is a response to the obsessive relationship we all have with our mobile devices and how telephones have transformed social interactions. The exhibition proposes an overview of the telephone as a means of artistic expression, presenting sound and video works selected, with Vittoria Martini, from the artists shown by galleries taking part in the fair.

What do the artworks being presented at this year's fair reveal about the current trends and market?

The works are obviously very diverse both in media and content, from small drawings to augmented reality videos. I feel many share the need to examine the growing anxiety being caused by climate change, or the rise of political radicalisms as well as the questioning of freedom on a global scale. I also feel that collectors are looking to contemporary art as a place in which to invest in the long run and not as a fast cash turnaround – at least the type of collectors who come to Artissima. A new trend is how collectors and gallerists use social media as a way of sharing, in some way turning known collectors or art patrons into contemporary art world ‘media’.

Artissima, Torino. Photo: Perottino-Piva-Bottallo/ Artissima
Artissima, Torino. Photo: Perottino-Piva-Bottallo/ Artissima

What advice do you have for the collectors that will be attending the fair this year?

As the only fair in Italy to concentrate exclusively on contemporary art, Artissima is the preferred event for both established as well as new collectors from all over the world who are looking to discover new trends. Our galleries’ visions allow collectors to acquire works by artists before they reach their peak prices on the market, I would say 3 to 5 years in advance of the general market. Every year the fair puts the focus on specific artistic topics.

This year the fair will feature Hub Middle East, a new project created in collaboration with Fondazione Torino Musei and thanks to the advisors Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath (founders of the curatorial platform Art Reoriented), to offer an overview of the galleries, institutions and artists active in a geographical area of central importance for developments in contemporary society. During the fair, the presence in Torino of the most important representatives of museums and private institutions, as well as collectors, will provide a versatile cutaway view of the most interesting contemporary developments in that territory.

Moreover our VIP programme of hospitality and participation is considered one of the most exclusive on the international art fair scene. Inserted in the unique context of Torino, it offers exceptional moments, special previews to the city’s museums, visits to private collections, and exceptional dining experiences for a memorable stay in the city.

In addition to the programme offered by Artissima, what exhibition or event is on your “must-see” list in Torino?

It is hard to choose… Simon Starling’s solo show on the Avvocato Agnelli is a masterpiece of contemporary storytelling in which contemporary conceptual art and social analysis find a perfect balance. The presentation of Arthur Jafa’s video Love is the Message, the Message is Death, winner of the 47th edition of the PIAC award by Foundation Prince Pierre in Monaco, is breathtaking. It is in the Sala del Senato at Palazzo Madama, activating a short circuit between politics, the representation of otherness and the current rising racism in Italy.

More Information on Artissima

Insiders (67)

Wilhelmina Jewell Strong - Sparks

Founder of BiTHOUSE Projects - BAAR Art Journey


Collector behind the ARNDT Collection

Sandra Guimarães

Director of Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear

Grazyna Kulczyk

Founder of Muzeum Susch


Interview with Georgie Pope and Eleonora Sutter, Co-founders

Kamiar Maleki

Director at VOLTA

Gallery Weekend Berlin 2022

Tokini Peterside

Founder and Director, ART X Lagos


Founding Director of the Athens Biennale

Boris Ondreička

Artistic Director of viennacontemporary

Maribel Lopez

Director of ARCO

David Gryn

Founder and Director of Daata

Fondation Beyeler Audiovisual Broadcast

Fondation Beyeler and Nordstern Basel present Dixon x Transmoderna

Gary Yeh

Founder of ArtDrunk and Young Collector

WATCH: The Best of the BMW Art Guide

Where will you travel next to explore art?

Maike Cruse

2020 Gallery Weekend Berlin

Touria El Glaoui

Founding Director of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair

Johann König

Messe in St. Agnes

PArt - Producers Art Platform

A crisis initiative to help artists directly affected by the pandemic

Barbara Moore

CEO of Biennale of Sydney

Unique Collector’s Item

by Independent Collectors

Alix Dana

Fair Director at Independent

When Collectors are Able to Commission

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Juliet Kothe and Julia Rust

Initiators of Collection Night, Berlin

Marie-Anne McQuay

Curator of Wales in Venice, 58th Venice Biennale 2019

Dorothy and Herb Vogel

Two extraordinary art collectors

Heather Hubbs

Director at NADA

Every Art Collection Needs Space

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Collecting Art with François Pinault

Rudolf Stingel at Palazzo Grassi

A Common Ground

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Caroline Vos

Director at Amsterdam Art Weekend

Hidden Collections

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Nicole Berry

Executive Director of The Armory Show

Daniel Hug

Fair Director at Art Cologne

The Role of the Art Fair

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Peter Bläuer

Director at LISTE

A Brush Against Nature

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Excessiveness, the Latent Danger of Collecting Art

by Independent Collectors

Jo Stella-Sawicka

Artistic Director at Frieze

Florence Bourgeois

Director at Paris Photo

Where Artists Can Work More Playfully

by Christiane Meixner

Specifically Commissioned

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Manuela Mozo

Executive Director of UNTITLED, ART Miami and San Francisco

Important Museums and Private Collections

by Christiane Meixner

Susanna Corchia

Director of the Barcelona Gallery Weekend

Emilia van Lynden

Artistic Director at Unseen, Amsterdam

Carlos Urroz

Director at ARCOmadrid

Shoe Smudges Streaked Across the White Walls

by Christiane Meixner

Amanda Coulson

Director at VOLTA Basel

Douwe Cramer

Director at Singapore Contemporary

Art and Architecture – Attractive Allies

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Jo Baring

Curator of Sculpture Series, Masterpiece London

Bidders and Buyers

by Christiane Meixner

Anne Vierstraete

Managing Director at Art Brussels

Nanna Hjortenberg

Director at CHART

The Crucial Role of the New

by Independent Collectors

Makers and Believers

On Art History’s Most Famous Patrons

The Past is Back

And collectors are buying it up

Are Artists the Better Curators?

On the diminishing boundary between professions in the art world

The Digital Museum

On the importance of the museum’s web presence

The Man in the Middle

On the curator’s private and public engagements

A Private Matter?

On the importance of physical space for the value of art

Off the Wall

How museums contribute to the worth of artworks

Where to Go Next?

The fragmentation of Manhattan’s gallery scene

To Buy or Not to Buy

Collectors on their experiences of letting an artwork slip away

How to Pass On a Passion

On long-term challenges for new private museums