Founded by Paulo Taurisano in the 1970s, the Collezione Taurisano is a vast collection of more than 400 works. Located in Naples, it has prioritised the acquisition of boundary-pushing artworks spanning a range of media, including photography, audio, installation works, paintings, and sculpture.
Francesco Taurisano and Sveva D'Antonio continue to focus the collection on work by emerging artists—an endeavour reflected in their support for art-o-rama, which platforms works shown by trailblazing galleries in Marseille between 25 and 28 August 2022.
At the fair, the couple are participating in a jury for Because of Many Suns, The Collezione Taurisano Acquisition Award, which will give a prize to the most daring curatorial project at the fair.
Last year, the award was received by Mary Hurrell for her audio piece Blush Response (2021), which as presented by London-based gallery Nicoletti as part of art-o-rama's Immaterial Salon—an online platform for 'immaterial' artworks.
In this interview, D'Antonio speaks about the importance of supporting emerging artists, and the challenges that come with collecting non-traditional art forms.
Originally founded in the 1970s by Paulo Taurisano, how would you say Collezione Taurisano has changed since then, and how has it remained the same?
Paulo Taurisano, who was the father of my husband, initially started collecting to furnish his home in Naples. But in the process, he developed a very unique relationship with the person who was selling him art. This person was not a traditional dealer.
The stories that they shared with my husband's father about the artists he was buying ignited his passion. We're talking about artists from key Italian artistic movements such as Transavanguardia, Nouveau Realisme, and Movimento Nucleare. They were the very first artists of the contemporary era to be intrinsically involved in the everyday fight for their niche.
This desire to be involved in society by supporting emerging art was something that really spoke to us. But we're living in a different time, with an art system that is made up of a network of people with roles that you have to respect. So when we started to collect, we immediately went to galleries and never bought directly from artists. And we only focused on work by artists of our generation.
Since then, over 10 years, we have collected more than 400 pieces, spanning different media. It has never really been a question of what to collect, but how to collect. So, really looking into the meaning of each work and how it was formally developed by the artist.
The collection is based in Naples. Could you tell me a little bit about the art scene there?
The art scene in Naples has changed a lot since when the collection was started. Historically, it has attracted a lot of important artists such as Joseph Beuys and Jimmie Durham, who spent the last years of his life here.
It has always been vibrant, and many artists have started to move to the city from Berlin in recent years. It is a stimulating place to be as an artist but also as a gallerist, and there are a lot of people who are interested in collecting.
However, the majority of collectors are of an older generation, and it's a different approach, which is not very public. For us, it's very much about sharing, and our Instagram profile communicates what we are collecting. The house is open to the public, too, and we receive a lot of visits from museum directors and curators, for example, because they find it very interesting to understand how we live with art.
As a platform, Collezione Taurisano has satellite initiatives in Italy and abroad, supporting residencies and prizes, among other activities. How would you define the collection's community?
The community is made up of people from around the world; our Instagram following is very international. Lately we've been collecting a lot of work by American artists, so our 'fanbase' is very American, so to say.
Collectors also approach us asking for advice on what to collect, or how to collect certain pieces, and many young artists get in touch with their portfolios.
Your collection is made up of all kinds of media, and includes some more 'intangible' pieces, such as audio pieces. You have acquired an audio work by Lawrence Abu Hamdan, for example, and in 2021, Mary Hurrell's audio piece Blush Response received the Collezione Taurisano's Because of Many Suns Prize. What is the importance of supporting such works?
We got to know Lawrence Abu Hamdan because he was doing a show with a gallery I was working with. Lawrence calls himself a 'private ear' and in his work, he attempts to uncover realities that society is trying to cover up.
It's very important when art gives you alternative information, and when you collect such pieces, it's important that you completely share the vision of the artist and are keen to share it with others.
It's not always easy to collect such pieces. Lawrence's work, which is the same as the piece in MoMA's collection, is an audio installation, and it's difficult to install in the house. But it's unforgettable, and I try to find other ways to speak about it, even though I can't live with it every day.
Adelita Husni-Bey's video The Reading (2017), which was shown at the Italian Pavilion of the 57th Venice Biennale, is another such work. It's an enormous video installation that engages a group of young people who reflect on the climate crisis through tarot reading.
There are works that can be formally challenging, too, such as Amanda Ba's paintings. She puts a lot of literary references into her pieces, and I think if the viewer is able to access these, it's very rewarding. It's a very enriching way of treating the painting medium.
We also have a three-dimensional video by Hayoun Kwon, who is a South Korean artist, about the border between North and South Korea. This is the only three-dimensional piece we have.
Is there an artwork you dream of collecting?
This is very difficult question, because as collectors have a very long wish list. Nowadays, the art market has become a bubble of speculation, and it can be very difficult to collect certain works.
A couple of days ago I was at the Louisiana Museum in Copenhagen, which is one of my favourite museums in the world, and I experienced an infinity room by Yayoi Kusama. Works like these are beyond collecting, which of course is a trigger for a collector. It would be a dream to own such a work. Alex Da Corte's video installations are also breathtaking.
Art-o-rama is coming up in Marseille. Have you attended the fair before? How does the event stand out from other art fairs?
We've been attending the fair over the last six years, and have developed a relationship with the director, Jérôme Pantalacci. It's very well curated and it's just the right size.
If you go to fairs like Art Basel, the support of collectors is not as direct as, say, that of the galleries. Instead, here you have a lot of emerging galleries showing young artists who are in need of support, especially if there is the chance to exhibit the work in a museum.
I am participating in a jury for the Because of Many Suns, The Collezione Taurisano Acquisition Award, which will award the most daring curatorial project at the fair.
Other members of the fair include the director of exhibart.es and LOOP Fair in Barcelona, Carolina Ciuti; Joseph Awuah-Darko, who is the director of Noldor Residency in Accra, Ghana; and Muriel Enjalran, the director of Frac Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.
Last year, we donated a work by Anna Dot to Frac, which is a very interesting institution because it's part of a network of institutions around France, so the work travels a lot more, which was key for its visibility.
Main image: Sveva D'Antonio and Francesco Taurisano. Courtesy Collezione Taurisano.