Giuseppe Iannaccone, exegesis of a collection

Contributors We Wealth
Contributors We Wealth, Margherita Strada
Read Time: 3'
Established some 30 years ago, the Avellino lawyer's collection is one of the landmarks among private collections in Milan. It consists of a unicum of works conceived between the two world wars of the 20th century and an avant-garde section devoted to emerging art. We interviewed him on the occasion of the new appointment of the "IN PRACTICE" project.
Giuseppe Iannaccone, born in Avellino on November 25, 1955, graduated in the 1970s with a law degree and, in 1982, founded the law firm of the same name, which he headed, specializing in commercial and corporate law. At the same time, in the early 1990s, he discovered his great passion for art, which later gave birth to the Giuseppe Iannaccone Collection, which he understood as a container of stories necessary for a careful look at the world and as a document of the present. Giuseppe Iannaccone began collecting works in the first half of the 20th century and only later approached contemporary art. His Collection comprises two sections: one focused on Italian art between the two wars - a unicum in the Italian and international scene with works ranging from the early 1920s to the conclusion of World War II - and a section dedicated to young emerging talents, which includes paintings, sculptures, drawings, and photographs-.

Part of the Giuseppe Iannaccone Collection is now stored in the law firm's spaces, which since 2015 has launched the "IN PRACTICE" project, hosting exhibitions that bring together works by artists already in the Collection with those of other young artists on an ongoing basis. We interviewed him on the occasion of the eighth appointment of the "IN PRACTICE" project, which opened on Saturday, September 17, with the exhibition "Caos Calmo," curated by Giuseppe Iannaccone, Daniele Fenaroli and Gloria Vergani, featuring works by Chiara Di Luca (Milan, 1996) and Aronne Pleuteri (Erba, 2001).


Face-to-face with Giuseppe Iannaccone


When did your desire to collect start? How and when was the Giuseppe Iannaccone Collection born?

AVV. G.I.: Collectors do not like to confess it, but collecting is an alternative to undergoing continuous psychoanalysis sessions. My case is no different. I remember when I was a young boy, a very young lawyer, I was suffering so much from the stress of professional assignments, perhaps too significant for my young age, and that's when my passion for art was born, as well as my dedication to artistic research, which helped me a lot. I used to tell everyone, "Art is the crutch of my soul." This is no longer the case; I no longer need crutches for my soul, but art is a life companion to which I will always be faithful; I am afraid the psychoanalysis continues.

Del Bon Angelo, Lo schermidore, 1934, olio su tela, 104 x 82 cm

Ph: Studio Vandrash

Courtesy: Collezione Giuseppe Iannaccone

What was the first work you purchased?

AVV. G.I.: The first work I purchased as a young man, in my early thirties, was a work by Claudio Bonichi, titled Sirena ferita, from 1987. From my point of view, a mermaid was being saved by a faun in the Venice lagoon; for the gallery owner, however, the mermaid had been attacked and struck by the 'harpoon of the man who was dragging her away. The beauty of art is also this: it opens the way to a myriad of different interpretations. Regarding this first purchase, I think subconsciously, one impetus for the purchase was the consideration that Bonichi was the grandson of Scipio, an artist I have always loved immensely but could not afford at the time.

Badodi Arnaldo, Il circo, 1939, olio su tavola, 71 x 91 cm

Ph: Studio Vandrash

Courtesy: Collezione Giuseppe Iannaccone


Who was the first emerging artist you chose to include in your Collection?

AVV. G.I.: Although in the beginning I mainly selected works by Italian artists from the period between the two great wars, with time, travel, and with in-depth study of publications on contemporary art, I also began to acquire works by emerging international artists. Now I cannot remember with certainty the first work by an emerging artist, given the large number of pieces that now make up my Collection. However, to give you an example of my research, in the early 2000s, I purchased two works by Kehinde Wiley, an African American artist who later became famous for his portrait of Barack Obama, then president of the United States of America. I remember being fascinated by his poetics aimed at placing black people - who had always been neglected in art history - at the center of romantic works that echoed Renaissance art. It seemed a poetic reminder of the need for a new artistic course.


An artist you remember fondly, whose art notably marked you?

AVV. G.I.: To this question, I answer without hesitation: the artist who moved me and whom I love the most is Gino Bonichi, known as Scipione. In the excruciating physical and psychological suffering of the knowledge of his sad fate - which would take him away at only 29 years of age - Scipione succeeded̀ in writing indelible pages that changed the history of art in this country. Others, in grief, would have despaired, cried in a bed, if anything hugging their mothers for consolation, but not him: he wrote immortal poems, proving to the art world that even grief can be a source of magical inspiration.

Scipione (Gino Bonichi), Cavalli davanti al mattatoio, 1929, ca., olio su tavola, 35 x 41,5 cm

Ph: Studio Vandrash

Courtesy: Collezione Giuseppe Iannaccone


What step or moment in your history as a collector makes you particularly proud?

AVV. G.I.: I love my Collection; each piece was acquired as an act of love without conditioning by people or the market - so I am proud when I admire each of my works. Of course, I have to say that some exhibitions, in particular, have filled and still fill my heart with joy, including the exhibitions that have been done on my Collection at the Milan Triennale in 2017; at Palazzo Creberg in Bergamo also in 2017, at the Estorick Collection in London in 2018, at the Museo Della Città in Livorno between 2020 and 2021; as well as at the GAM in Turin in 2021, as well as the exhibition that will be held next December at the Fondazione Carispezia in La Spezia, along with the exhibition of works from my Collection in museums around the world.


How did the union between the Giuseppe Iannaccone law firm and art begin?

AVV. G.I.: Art is the counterbalance of my profession. I am a Lawyer, and eventually, the Collection came almost unconsciously into my practice. When I bought a work, I would place it in the studio to see it daily. In the early days, I would notice some puzzled looks from staff and clients because no studio in Milan was organized like an art gallery. Today, however, I am happy to see general appreciation and sharing. I want art to belong to everyone, and everyone should enjoy it.

Aligi Sassu, Battaglia dei tre cavalieri, 1941, olio su tela, 200 x 200 cm

Ph: Studio Vandrash

Courtesy: Collezione Giuseppe Iannaccone

Badodi Arnaldo, Soprabito su divano, 1941, olio su tela, 60 x 70 cm

Ph: Studio Vandrash

Courtesy: Collezione Giuseppe Iannaccone

The Giuseppe Iannaccone law firm hosts several small exhibitions inside its premises related to the "IN PRACTICE" project, which continuously compares the works of artists already in its Collection with works by talented young artists. From what need was this initiative born? What are the upcoming projects?

AVV. G.I.: The "IN PRACTICE" project was born from the need to help young contemporary artists become known. It offers emerging artists a stage to expose themselves and compare with artists already in the Collection. The "IN PRACTICE" project halted during the two years COVID-19 restrictions constrained the country, but in 2022 I decided to revive the initiative. With the help of my two young curators, Gloria Vergani and Daniele Fenaroli, I researched and chose two very talented young artists, Chiara Di Luca and Aronne Pleuteri. With them, we constructed the exhibition "IN PRACTICE 8, HOT CAUSE." For the occasion, we asked the two selected young artists to confront works from the Collection dating back to the 1930s - a challenge they accepted enthusiastically, resulting in an incredible project.

Chiara Di Luca, Il tuo tempo qui è limitato, 2019, pastello su carta,

11 x 15 cm

Ph: Chiara Di Luca

Courtesy: Collezione Giuseppe Iannaccone

Aronne Pleuteri, Un maniaco ha dato fuoco al cielo, 2022, olio su tela, 140 x 160 x 3,5 cm

Ph: Aronne Pleuteri

 Courtesy: Collezione Giuseppe Iannaccone

How vital is patronage these days?

AVV. G.I.: patronage is vital, especially concerning emerging contemporary artists. Helping, protecting, and benefiting artists means supporting art and our culture, so they never fail.


What establishes the value of a work of art for you?

AVV. G.I.: In general, the value of a work is established by the artist's talent. A piece has value when it manages to remain in art history. In my specific case, I chose to select only those artists who investigate the veins of the human soul; I like artists who can reflect the whole range of emotions: joys, sorrows, whims, and social and existential problems. I am in search of emotions; without them, I get bored.


What is contemporary art for you today?

AVV. G.I.: Contemporary art mirrors our time, society, culture, and the evolution of the world - in short, a poetic reinterpretation of reality.

Of course, it is necessary to know how to recognize "true art"; that is, one must be able to separate poetry from commercial illustration. It is then essential to know art's history: if one does not see the past, one cannot fully understand the present. Contemporary art is nothing but the present but told by the hand of a true artist. The history of art is a book, moreover, a sacred one, always in the process of being written, and contemporary art is its last chapter; if one has not read the previous chapters, one will certainly not be able to understand the final chapter of this magical and immortal story-

Contributors We Wealth
Contributors We Wealth, Margherita Strada


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