Hauser & Wirth is proud to present, ‘On Collecting. Panza Collection Archives’. This project space and series of events explores the archives and practices of Giuseppe and Giovanna Panza, the internationally renowned collectors who, over more than five decades, built an extraordinary contemporary art collection including works by minimal and conceptual artists from both America and Europe.
The presentation features archival material displayed for the first time and a series of plywood paintings by Ford Beckman. Sol LeWitt’s ‘Wall Drawing No. 150’ (1972) will be realised during the project as a performative action in the gallery space. A screening and series of public talks over the course of the exhibition expands on the topic of collecting as a concept.
From the 1950s, Giuseppe Panza played a fundamental role in introducing American art movements to the museums of Europe. Dr. Panza was known for the pioneering and rigorous approach taken to all aspects of the collecting process. These fascinating archives bring to life the methods of selecting the artworks, their meticulous documentation in the space, the correspondence with the artists, the precision of his curatorial approach and the modes of display in both the domestic environment and institutional spaces.
The archival material has been organised in rows reminiscent of the reading room of a library to reflect that for Giuseppe Panza, art was a philosophical pursuit for truth and exhibiting art was a vehicle for communicating knowledge. The study room is simultaneously an exhibiting model and a curatorial approach.
The archive material on view has been divided into four categories: books and research materials; documentation of the artworks and correspondence with the artists; Giuseppe Panza’s personal drawings and photographs and, lastly, his unrealised projects.
Panza’s documentation of the artworks and his correspondence with artists, features archive material such as letters from Hanne Darboven, the chromatic prototypes of Phillip Sims, the drawings and notebooks of Lawrence Carroll, the correspondence with Ford Beckman, the invitations and photographic reports of David Simpson and the photographic reports of Richard Nonas’s sculptures.
Included in the presentation are Giuseppe Panza’s personal drawings and his own photographs of skies which were a source of inspiration leading him to collect a series of monochromes. This section also includes curatorial studies for the installation of the Panza Collection in Sassuolo, Italy, and in Albright Knox in Buffalo, USA.
Another section documents Giuseppe Panza’s role as a pioneer of Land and Environmental art and the unrealised projects he was working on within this genre. He supported the crater projects by James Turrell, two environments by Douglas Wheeler, and the sculptural interventions of Jene Highstein.
This project provides an understanding of the radical approach of Giuseppe Panza, who explained, ‘A collection is a very particular kind of accumulation. There is nothing of the inert object in it for he or she who buys it. And the issue is less to accumulate than to surround oneself with works that have a life and a life giving quality of their own…They consitute a living presence that transform us.’
About the Panza Collection
Giovanna and Giuseppe Panza (1923-2010) are considered among of the world’s foremost collectors of modern and contemporary art of the 20th and 21st century. Their pioneering collection, which reveals their visionary approach to collecting and life-long commitment to their artists, spans three generations encompassing Abstract Expressionism, Minimal and Conceptual art and Environmental and Land artists. The latter sought to remove expressive, narrative or symbolic interpretations in order for the viewer to concentrate on qualities of light, colour, space and materials. The approach to collecting was marked by a willingness to collect art that few museums or private collectors at the time were willing to acquire, such as conceptual works that exist only as documentary certificates or room-sized installations that require significant storage space.
Giuseppe Panza arranged important gifts and loans that greatly enhanced the collections of numerous American museums such as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim in New York. A small part of his 2,500-piece collection remains in the 18th century Villa Menafoglio Litta Panza at Varese outside Milan, where an ever-evolving exhibition is on view.
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