Lugano | Switzerland

Sanvido Collection

Cinzia Sanvido, private banker

How did your collection come about?

I started by chance after I went with a friend to Venice in 1997 to Bruna Aickelin's Il Capricorno gallery, (unfortunately Bruna passed away recently) and I was intrigued. The following year I started visiting the gallery regularly - , I went three or four times a year, and that’s where I  bought my first work, a painting by Miltos Manetas. A very simple work, which I still own today and  I’ve never tired of it. Maybe now, after 22 years, I wouldn't buy it because my taste is different, but I'm happy to have it. I learned a lot from Bruna and I met many people that I still  talk to today and with whom I’ve often interacted.. While visiting the gallery I also started to attend the fairs, after an acquaintance I met at  a vernissage, suggested that I go to Artissima.

How has your collection evolved?

Back then, I was driven by impulse , if I liked it I  bought it. Today this is still an important aspect, but now I want to go deeper, to see if I like the artist's entire production or, more important, if I am interested in his message. Today my method  collecting is much more thoughtful. I have started to focus on some artists and I would like to continue like that, because I don't want to have just one  work, I just want to have a group of works to understand the artist's poetics.


Miltos Manetas, “Autumn with controller”, 1998, oil on canvas

Do you to buy in a gallery, at a fair, or online?

Preferably in the gallery, because I can examine the artist's work, and I can also see previous works. At fairs I buy because I work full time and the fair allows me to concentrate and see as many works and galleries as possible. I have been going to Art Basel for more than twenty years and it is difficult for me to return home with nothing. I also really like Artissima. On the web, I've only bought once. I need to see the work in person  to appreciate its depth and colors. Now of course, that everything is closed because of the Coronavirus I'm very well informed because all the galleries offer viewing rooms and videos.  It's a great way to stay up to date , but I hope that the gallery will again be my point of reference. In the past many small and medium sized galleries have had to close, but I hope they survive this crisis..

Is there a work that helped you during the Coronavirus lockdown ?

On the terrace I have a sculpture by Bettina Pousttchi, a German artist of Iranian origin who lives in Berlin.I like it very much. She appropriates common materials we see in the streets, gives them back their shape and meaning and paints them -  in this work there are two small poles that look like two people hugging each other. It gives me some hope for the future, so that we will soon return to hugging.

Carol Rama, “Rainbow”, 2002, oil and backpack on canvas

Carol Rama, “Capricci”, 2004, mixed technique and collage on canvas

What's a recent exhibition you enjoyed?

I was in Paris at the beginning of the year and I saw four exhibitions that I really liked. . The first one, Kiki Smith at  Monnaie de Paris, a great  retrospective in a very nice location. Then at the Centre Pompidou I saw a beautiful exhibition of Christian Boltanski, an artist who is demanding  because he always deals with themes like memory and death. Even now when I think about the exhibition I can feel it in my heart. Then I saw an exhibition of Francis Bacon also at the Pompidou and, finally, an exhibition dedicated to the famous French designer Charlotte Perriand at the Fondation Louis Vuitton. I liked it because they replicated some settings with her furniture, putting them in dialogue with works by artists she collaborated with and also with her black and white artistic photographs. Just before the lockdown I also had the good fortune to go to a vernissage at Galleria Daniele Agostini, a young gallery owner here in Lugano where there is a good     program of young artists. Sometimes interesting things happen in Lugano too.


What about a trip you're planning?

I'm planning to go to Japan. I was  there ten years ago, but this time it will be a contemporary art and architecture tour.

Kiki Smith, "Girl with glitter nr. 6", 2000, ink, glue and glitter on Nepalese paper

Charles Avery, "Theodora/Dorothea", 2006, chalk, e "Mr. Impossible", 2006, chalk, acrylic, sheep wool

Charles Avery, "Bather in the Memory of Conchious-Ness", 2017, acrylic, ink, and pencil on paper mounted on canvas

 Who are some of the artists you've decided to explore in your collection?

One of them is Charles Avery, whom I discovered at  Galleria Sales and then Sonia Rosso in Turin. I bought some drawings, an expressive medium that I really like, and then some sculptures, "Dorothea" and "Mr Impossible". For years Avery has been working on a utopian island that he invented and is slowly populating it with people and animals. Eggs are a recurring element.


Charles Avery, "Meta child and Atomist child having a balancing competition", 2009, pencil and acrylic on paper

Charles Avery, "Three men and a dog sucking", 2007, pencil on paper

Another artist I follow is Heidi Bucher,  a Swiss artist who passed away in 1993. During her lifetime she lived a bit in the shadow of her husband, who was a well-known artist in Switzerland. Then in the early 2000s they started to revisit her. She is represented by The Approach Gallery and Lehmann Maupin, and at the last Venice Biennale there were some of her large-scale works on display. She used to put sheets of cloth on the walls of her grandparents' home with a glue, leave them to dry  so that all the nuances of the walls were highlighted on the fabric, and then she would peel it off and dip it in latex with mother-of-pearl.. A sort of photograph but with a different material.

 I also have some small sculptures by Ariel Schlesinger, an 40 year old artist who is represented in Italy by Massimo Minini. I met him two years ago at a vernissage in Brescia and he is a very funny person. I also like his burnt canvases. In this case he was inspired by the Stolpersteine - stumbling stones - found in all European cities, to memorialize the victims of Nazism.  I like them because they are not perfect, he worked them with fire, which is always part of his production. One of my interpretations is that fire is a way to burn and make something new and reborn, as farmers do when they burn the soil to make it fertile.

Heidi Bucher, "Untitled", 1979, Linseed oil, graphite, nacre on paper (Frottage), 120 x 80 cm

Heidi Bucher, "Untitled", latex, size with frame60 x 52 cm

Do you like to meet artists?

Absolutely, because I see the artwork with other eyes. I sometimes buy without knowing the artist in person, following his path through the gallery, but when you get to meet the artist it gives you something more, because you can feel the artist's feelings. It can also happen the opposite way: once I met an American artist who, when I asked her to explain her work,  told me that she was not interested in explaining it, but rather in selling it. From there I wiped her out. So meeting the artist is important to me, it could mean buying the work, or giving up the purchase.

 Any other artists you follow?

Anna Maria Maiolino, a very well known Brazilian artist.  I met her through Raffaella Cortese who hasan excellent gallery with exceptional artists. I have several works including a small work that I like a lot, because there is an egg that you can't tell if it falls or not, if it is balanced or not.

Anna Maria Maiolino, from the series “Fotopoemaçao” - De…………Para, 1974-2010

Anna Maria Maiolino, "Sim titulo", 1981, from series “Vida Afora”

Anna Maria Maiolino, "Sim titulo", 2014, from series“Filogenédicos”, acrylic watercolor

Mac Adams is an English-born artist who lives and works in the United States. It was like love at first sight, around 2006 in Basel, a work from the gb agency gallery in Paris. The work is from the Mystery series, created by the artist by going to police stations to read crime reports, and then recreating the scenes and taking the photograph, often as a diptych or triptych.

Mac Adams, "The Palm", 1978

Mac Adams, "The Palm", 1978

Marc Bauer is a Swiss artist living in Berlin. I follow the Swiss market a lot. He was represented by Jean Claude Freymond-Guth and now by Peter Kilchmann, and drawing is his forte. At the end of last year he had an exhibition at the Istituto Svizzero in Milan and was also at Miart with drawings of immigrants' landings. He is also a fairly political artist.

I also like Miriam Cahn, a well-known Swiss artist.

Marc Bauer, "Untitled (portrait)", 2012, grey pencil on aluminum

Are there artistic languages particularly well represented in your collection, or, on the contrary missing?

No videos. I like them, but I like to live immersed in the art I buy and the video has the limitation that I have to install it. I started with painting and some watercolors, then I moved on to drawing, which I like a lot and have a lot of, and then photography, even if at the beginning this didn't fit into my idea of a collection. Now these three media are very prominent, though I also have some sculptures and some lightboxes.

What is the criteria with which you choose a work or an artist?

For sure the message that I get from the work.. Sometimes the attraction is very intuitive and emotional, then if there is a stronger feeling I get more involved and make a purchase . I have never thought about whether or not a work belongs in my collection, or even if a visitor would recognize a common thread. For me it is more difficult to recognize, but certainly the human body is always present.

Kiki Smith, "Eve", 2001, chromogenic color print - ed. 3/3

Kiki Smith, Io (standing), 2005, porcelain, ed. 4/13

Who was your mentor?

Definitely Bruna Aickelin. For many years I visited her gallery, and I  learned a lot from her and the people I met through  her. Now I look  to gallery owners who I feel in tune with. I have to say I'm quite a decision maker, I don't need to ask when  I'm convinced.


Why did you choose to join Collective?

One of my gallerist friends suggested this association, then I learned that the president is the wife of a former colleague of mine that I often see around the art world. I chose to join because spending time with people who have your passion is much more enriching than spending it with someone who drags you along but has no interest in art, which can get very heavy. I also like to be taken to see an exhibition or a collection. I get a lot of pleasure from these occasions.


Cinzia Sanvido