PERSPECTIVES 2. ARTISTS IN THE BERLA COLLECTION.
Adriana Beretta, Andrea Crociani, José Davila, Luca Frei, Alex Hanimann, Jakob Kolding, Ugo Rondinone
Opening on Saturday 23 July 2016 at 5.30 p.m.
23 July – 2 October 2016
PERSPECTIVES 2. ARTISTS IN THE BERLA COLLECTION is the second event to be devoted by the MACT/CACT to private collections: once again, this is a collection whose home is on the southern slopes of the Alps. The aim of the exhibition is to pay tribute to the collector by showing some of the works by Italian artists that he has collected over the years: Adriana Beretta, Andrea Crociani, José Davila, Luca Frei, Alex Hanimann, Jakob Kolbing and Ugo Rondinone.
We have explored the dynamics of private collecting as one of the roots of modern museology on several occasions before today, unearthing not so much the sometimes disappointing market strategies to be found in the framework of what is supposed to be a real passion for art, as the authenticity of a work of art and of its collector. It is no coincidence that the end-of-year exhibition being hosted by the MACT/CACT also touches tangentially on a particular way of conceiving of the space of art and social space: the Wunderkammer.
All too often, the image we have of the post-contemporary collector is still that of the entrepreneur who makes an investment, for whom an artist has a value because he is in demand on the market of the day. It then follows that so many of the art collections we come across in museums were compiled on the basis of this underlying criterion, in which the exchange between money and artistic goods has acquired purely commercial connotations: something that should actually be of no interest to a museum as a place of culture. Should this phenomenon be traced back to political and financial globalisation, or to the effect of the significantly more trendy “country system” and of today’s hollow consumerism?
As things stand here in Canton Ticino, after several years devoted to collecting works by contemporary artists, the Berla collection constitutes the second phase and dimension of collecting that relates osmotically and healthily to the art scene and in some respects also to the scene of the institutions that surrounds it, since it has already unquestionably put the nineteenth-century approach to “building a collection” just described above behind it in the past. The offspring of such twentieth-century avant-garde movements as constructivist abstraction in general or the conceptual approach to language, without neglecting that touch of Dada that steeps artistic making in playful aspects, the collector has a preference for installation works by artists who identify with the concept of minimalism or make use of primarily minimalist paradigms, ranging from painting to photography and from drawing to video.
Regarding the situation that pertains on the southern side of the Alps, where the relationship between private and public has a tendency to become competitive in its profile and its dynamics, the case of the Berla collection comes across as a reasoned locus of the mind and of taste, one that is still graced by a chamber attitude, in which the owner does his utmost to nurture a personal relationship with the artist and with the art scene, something that has become rare indeed.
The simple authenticity of this little collection that is growing gradually, following criteria that are not merely commercial, brings the focus and attention back onto the true significance of collecting historical testimonies or more simply of being a direct testimonial of the art that we set out to collect, the kind that the collector loves to have around himself.
To mark the occasion, the young art historian Mattia Desogus has written a critical essay for the Cahier d’Art due to be published during the exhibition, as a tribute to the collector.
Mario Casanova, 2016