NEW YORK—In more than 50 years of collecting art, Giuseppe Panza di Biumo, who has appeared numerous times on the ARTnews 200 list of the top collectors in the world, has assembled an internationally renowned collection of more than 2,500 works that reflects his pattern of buying specific artists’ work in depth.
Panza has worked closely with such major institutions as the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, to sell or donate large groups of important artworks from his collection. In late 2007, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., acquired from Panza 39 conceptual pieces, light works, and space and environmental artworks by such artists as Robert Barry, On Kawara, Bruce Nauman and Doug Wheeler, many of whom were represented in the Hirshhorn’s collection for the first time.
In a recent telephone interview from his home in Lugano, Switzerland, and in a letter responding to questions from ARTnewsletter, Panza said he has lately focused on buying work by emerging artists including Alfonso Fattegiani Bianchi, Sonia Costantini, Christiane Lohr and Sean Shanahan. “They are not known because they don’t make art ‘à la mode,’” Panza wrote. “I’m interested mainly in art dealing with color. When it is possible, I buy through dealers. The average cost of the works is about $10,000.”
Panza said he started collecting in early 1956, beginning with work by Franz Kline and Antoni Tàpies. He told ARTnewsletter that his taste has “always remained the same” during his 53 years of collecting, “but the choices change in the relation to work made by new artists.” Of the 2,500 works he has acquired, about 1,000 are now in museums, 700 of which were donations. “I still own more than 1,500 works,” he wrote. “Some are displayed in my homes, but most of them are in storage, waiting for museums to have them.” Panza said he recently sold large groups of conceptual art to institutions because “museums are starting to understand this art. I sell only to museums large groups of works at a discount of 50 percent” of the appraised value.
There are also some artists not represented in his collection whose works Panza said he would like to have had: “I have missed many occasions like Agnes Martin, Yves Kline, Barnett Newman and Jackson Pollock because at the moment I couldn’t afford more expenses,” he said.