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With its sprawl of cutting-edge programming and art events this December, Art Basel Miami Beach is just one of the growing number of international destinations that are becoming crucial stops on the art lover’s itinerary. At a time when navigating these points—from art fairs and biennials to far-flung, must-see museum shows—is getting harder and harder for the non-art-professional, ArtWeLove spoke to Pinacoteca founder Anna Di Stasi about her new boutique art-travel advisory company.
As an art historian who is also trained as an auction house specialist, I founded Pinacoteca to combine three lifelong passions: contemporary art, the art market, and travel. To me the history of art and the history of collecting are deeply intertwined, particularly in today’s global art world. Pinacoteca is rooted in my desire to provide art lovers and emerging collectors with an enriching international context in which to develop their understanding of both contemporary art and the institutional network that comprises the art market.
More than a “tour company,” Pinacoteca specializes in curated art travel programs that offer personalized, culturally enriching itineraries. With the exception of our programs for art fairs and biennials, we maintain no set pre-departure agenda, preferring instead to work with each client’s interests and allowing them to determine key components of their trip. From beginner to expert, all programs are customized according to the client’s degree of familiarity with contemporary art.
For example, an emerging collector may come to us to request guidance to the Venice Biennale for an insider’s immersion in the contemporary art scene. Others may ask for an itinerary developed exclusively around Surrealist paintings in New York, for which we would arrange visits to landmark collections with art from the period in the company of an art historian who specializes in the field.
The mainstream popularity of fine art has exploded in recent years, with museum attendance reaching record numbers around the world and people increasingly building their travel plans around art destinations. Since art--contemporary art especially--has long been viewed as an elitist pursuit, what do you think accounts for this phenomenon?
There has been a major cultural shift in the way we relate to contemporary art and design, partly due to the unprecedented growth in the economy from 2003 to 2008. We have become a culturally-driven society that shares and consumes art and art-related experiences. As a result, art fairs and biennials, once deemed the exclusive domains of collectors, are now part of our popular culture. But for many who do not work directly in the art establishment, these experiences are only attainable through journeys—destination travel that offers opportunities for personal development.
As an expert in Latin American art, what advice do you have for someone who is interested in getting a handle on the current landscape of the market? And are there any artists--or institutions, or cities--that you feel are critical to understanding the Latin American art scene at the moment?
The Latin American art market is experiencing an extraordinary period of growth in North America and Europe. Groundbreaking exhibitions at institutions like the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and New York’s Museum of Modern Art have introduced audiences to key art historical periods such as Geometric Abstraction, as well as important Latin American artists like Armando Reverón, Mira Schendel, and Leon Ferrari. And while it has never been a speculative arena, Latin American art has achieved exponential higher prices at auction between 2004 and 2008. Still, there remain great gaps in the history of Latin American art—particularly from 1950 to 1980—that need to be recognized as vital avant-garde movements by the art market.
Another way the art market has also caught up to Latin American art in recent years is by creating PINTA, a unique art fair that brings the best Latin American contemporary art galleries to New York at the same time as Christie’s and Sotheby’s November Latin American art auctions. I’m looking forward to this year’s edition!
Art Basel Miami is going to have a changed atmosphere this year, with new galleries replacing ones that dropped out for economic reasons and fewer off-site venues popping up around the city--meaning the fair might actually be a manageable size for the first time in years. Is there anything you're particularly looking forward to this year, or any trends you'll be watching extra closely?
I expect that galleries will continue to curate their booths more diligently than in the past, approaching the fair mainly as an opportunity to showcase their exhibition programs. Selling will be important of course, but exhibiting quality artworks will come first. I feel there is a return to basics. Personally, I am looking forward to our inaugural cocktail reception in honor of Teresita Fernández which will be part of Pinacoteca’s Art Basel Miami Beach Program and held at the Setai in South Beach. Beyond attending the art fairs and visiting with friends, I’m also looking forward to seeing a couple of local exhibitions, including “Where Do We Go From Here?,” a selection of works from the Jumex Collection in Mexico City at the Bass Museum, and “Guillermo Kuitca: Everything, Paintings and Works on Paper, 1980 - 2008” at the Miami Art Museum.