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Major contemporary art collection unveiled in remote town south of Turin

Pinault, Saatchi...Viglietta?

Turin

Collectors today have a habit of showing their art in a blaze of publicity. French billionaire François Pinault’s decision to reveal his collection in April at Palazzo Grassi in Venice instead of on the Ile Seguin in Paris sent shockwaves throughout the international art world while Charles Saatchi’s movements are rarely out of the headlines.

But two Piedmont-based collectors, Matteo Viglietta and Bruna Girodengo, have decided to shun the limelight and reveal a selection of works from their major modern and contemporary art collection for the first time in...Caraglio. This small, remote town 90 miles south of Turin is host to the exhibition “Collectors 1” at the Cesac art centre (until 30 December 2007). Over 100 paintings, photographs, video installations and sculptures on show are drawn from the 1,000-piece collection assembled by Ms Girodengo and Mr Viglietta, CEO of a metal manufacturing company, over the last 25 years.

The exhibition includes 110 works divided into nine thematic sections by Nan Goldin, Bill Viola, Olafur Eliasson, Mike Kelley, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Gregor Schneider, Paul McCarthy, Andreas Gursky and Tom Wesselmann, among others. The earliest piece on view is Medardo Rosso’s bronze sculpture Old Man Laughing (around 1920). Arte Povera artists such as Alighiero Boetti and pop artist Michelangelo Pistoletto are represented in the section “Italy 1960-70”.

These works have, until now, only been available to view by appointment at the couple’s home in Busca, near the town of Cuneo in Piedmont, where they have set up a small private museum underneath their living quarters.

Eva Brioschi, Ms Girodengo’s assistant, told The Art Newspaper that Ms Girodengo and Mr Viglietta buy works at auction and from galleries such as London’s White Cube and Hauser & Wirth, Lia Rumma in Milan and Yvon Lambert in Paris.

“We do not have an annual budget,” says Ms Brioschi, “because, as a private body, what we acquire depends on our current interests”. She added that “we do not have priority choices regarding future acquisitions”. She emphasised that there were no plans to sell the collection.

Andrea Busto, director of the Cesac centre and curator of the show of works there, says the Girodengo/Viglietta collection is important because it contains major modern Italian pieces. He said that “the Uncle Tom and Uncle Sam rocket launcher by Pino Pascali alone is worth around E1.5m ($1.9m) by my estimates”. He added that the couple are “always trying to fill the gaps in their collection”.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as ‘Pinault, Saatchi...Viglietta?'