Cosa fa la mia anima mentre sto lavorando?

Works of contemporary art from the Consolandi Collection

A cura di Francesca Pasini, Angela Vettese

14 November 2010  -  13 February 2011

A few months after his death, the MAGA in Gallarate is paying tribute to the well-known Milanese collector Paolo Consolandi with an exhibition curated by Francesca Pasini and Angela Vettese.
Through a selection of extraordinary works from the important Consolandi Collection, the show investigates the principal trends in Italian and international contemporary art from the 1950s to the present day, highlighting the remarkable sensibility and foresight and the acute intuition displayed by Paolo Consolandi.
Around 200 works by a similar number of artists are subdivided into seven thematic groups (“Beyond matter”, “Horizons”, “Writing and writing oneself”, “Eclectic dialogues”, “Body and mind”, “Portraits, self-portraits and so on”, “Things”) within which the works of historicised artists dialogue and create relationships with those of the younger artists supported by the collector.
“As Paolo Consolandi said: Collecting contemporary art signifies not having nostalgia for the past, and it is on the basis of this criteria that he chose to interact with his time. His intuition – says Francesca Pasini, curator of the exhibition together with Angela Vettese – was always attuned to research in its nascent state, hence we find germinal works by Giulio Paolini, Alighiero Boetti, Giovanni Anselmo… along with the photos of the first performance by Vanessa Beecroft, the hand pierced by a pencil by the undisciplined student Maurizio Cattelan, the first works by Alberto Garutti, Stefano Arienti, Grazia Toderi and Elisabetta Di Maggio, the letters sent by Sabrina Mezzaqui to Massimo Minini before having met him and before staging her first exhibition in his gallery, the debut embroideries by Francesco Vezzoli. And then Tacita Dean, Gabriel Orozco, Luca Vitone, Mark Dion, Roni Horn, Mona Hatoum and Cornelia Parker.  Within his collection, established masters such as Gerhard Richter, Jannis Kounellis, Thomas Hirschhorn, Andy Warhol, Mike Kelly, Marina Abramovic, Thomas Struth, Rebecca Horn, Cindy Sherman and Anish Kapoor have initiated intimate dialogues with young artists such as Gianni Caravaggio, Sabrina Torelli, Francesco Gennari, Luca Trevisani, Dacia Manto and Jan Tweedy.
As Angela Vettese has written (Sole 24 ore, 2010), “Consolandi displayed taste, and plenty of it. But in order to cultivate this taste he packed his bags at least ten times a year: to visit a fair in Miami, an exhibition in Istanbul or a gallery in Paris. He understood – with a degree of humility unexpected given his authoritative personality – that we are not born with a knowledge of art, especially contemporary art, that the full sense of the present is learnt by living, travelling and knowing that one will never have enough time.”
Born in Milan in 1921 and a public notary by profession, Paolo Consolandi began buying art in the 1950s together with his wife Franca, an archaeologist. Intimate and personal, but at the same time profoundly inspired by a civic sense, the collection has also always represented an example for the public institutions: as if to say “this can be done”. We can try to keep up with the present at any age and in any condition. Chronological analogies and similarities of critical intuition therefore link the private (Consolandi) and public (MAGA) collections, establishing fascinating comparisons and parallels that have much to say about the cultural energy permeating Italy following the Second World war when both were born.

The title of the exhibition Cosa fa la mia anima mentre sto lavorando? refers to the work by Fischli & Weiss, the key image of the exhibition chosen to represent the collection and a phrase emblematic of the character and life of Paolo Consolandi.