The Panza Collection is entirely a couple's affair. When my wife Giovanna and I discover works by a new artist, I look at her and she looks at me. I can see in her eyes if she wants to buy or not. So even between my wife and me, "looking" is a issue.
First journey to New York as an emerging collector (Autumn): Giuseppe meets Rauschenberg and they establish a long-lasting friendship; visit to Rothko’s studio, most influential in the development of the collection, where he becomes aware of the artist’s display and lighting criteria. Together with Barnet Newman, Giuseppe visits the Manhattan apartment of collector Ben Heller who was among the first to acquire and display Abstract Expressionism artworks. He meets Marcel Duchamp, also frequented in Milan and Varese (1962; 1963), who played a key-role in Panza’s forthcoming appreciation of Conceptual Art.
First purchases of traditional African and Pre-Columbian art from dealer and connoisseur Franco Monti, in conjunction with the exhibition Arte precolombiana held at Galleria dell’Ariete in Milan (from December 14th).
Works from the collection by Fautrier, Kline e Rothko are exhibited at the important survey on collecting La pittura moderna straniera nelle collezioni private italiane, curated by Franco Russoli and Giuseppe Marchiori, Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Turin (March 4 - April 9, 1961).
While in New York (1961) and on the occasion of the Venice Biennial (1962), the Panzas discover the emerging Pop Art through the activity of Castelli and Ileana Sonnabend.
After the first installation of The Store (1961-62) by Claes Oldenburg at the group show Environments, Situations, Spaces (Martha Jackson Gallery, New York) in May 1961, Giuseppe visits the second version of the work displayed at the rented storefront and artist’s studio on 107 East Second Street (December); some of the pieces convey to the solo exhibition organized by the Green Gallery (September 1962), where the collector purchases objects from the various elaborations of the work.
From 1962, Giuseppe purchases a group of works by James Rosenquist, of whom he visits the studio in Downtown New York. He acquires paintings by Roy Lichtenstein in 1963, while George Segal’s Sunbathers on Rooftop, 1963-67 and Man in the Armchair, 1969 will enter the collection in 1973.
The 32nd Venice Biennial celebrates the New York art scene and Pop Art with the Grand Prize awarded to Rauschenberg. Giuseppe Panza contributes by lending the seminal works Untitled Combine, 1955, Factum I, 1957, and Gift for Apollo, 1959 (June 20 - October 18).
Between 1960 and 1964 the Panzas establish the first collection by selecting artworks from the formative period. This part of the collection comprises some 80 works of Art Informel, Abstract Expressionism, Neo-Dada and Pop Art.
Brief break in the purchasing activity (1964-1965).
Robert Morris’ fiberglass structures are acquired from Virginia Dwan Gallery in New York. Along with Dan Flavin’s fluorescent lights, exhibited at the first Italian solo show curated by critic Tommaso Trini (Gian Enzo Sperone Gallery, Milan, February 14 - March 15 marzo 1967), these acquisitions mark the resumption of Panza’s collecting activity.
Among the first professional photographs of the collection to be taken at the Biumo Villa, Ugo Mulas’ bear witness to the family’s everyday life with art and to Giuseppe’s innovative displays (from Abstract Expressionism to Minimalist works); he portrays an iconic image of the collector (Vogue Italia, 1966; Domus, 1968).
The Galerie Ileana Sonnabend in Paris organizes Larry Bell’s solo show (November 1967), of whom the crystal cube Light Brown Box (1968) is acquired; the Panzas obtain preliminary information on the California art scene.
Opening of San Fedele Gallery’s new venue in Milan: artworks from the collection by Rauschenberg, Tàpies, Kline, Fautrier, Rothko and Oldenburg are exhibited (January). From the 1950s, Giuseppe and Giovanna are among the main devotees of the cultural center’s activity; such a long-lasting collaboration would lead to numerous exhibitions of artists like Robert Barry (1971), Robert Ryman (1973), Richard Nonas (1976) and, more recently, Alfonso Fratteggiani Bianchi (2001), Lawrence Carroll (2004) and Max Cole (2006).
This year’s sojourn in New York fosters an expanded perspective of the collection.
Bruce Nauman’s solo show at Leo Castelli Gallery (January 27 - February 17) prompts an interest in the artist’s early works and subsequent environments, some of which were installed at Biumo in the early 1970s (Performance Corridor, 1969; Pink and Yellow Light Corridor (Variable Lights), 1972).
Giuseppe meets Robert Irwin on the occasion of his solo show at Pace Gallery (March 15 - April 11), and would then acquire the first Disc (1966-1967). The artist provided the first incentive for the discovery of the emerging Light & Space movement.
At Conceptual Art dealer and curator Seth Siegelaub’s space, he sees for the first time artworks by young conceptual artists like Lawrence Weiner, Robert Barry, Sol LeWitt, Douglas Huebler and Joseph Kosuth with whom he begins a long-time friendship. The subsequent two years mark the first acquisitions of Conceptual Art.
Gallery owner John Weber, a key-figure for the inception of the core collection of Minimalism along with Castelli, introduces Giuseppe to Carl Andre’s oeuvre and to the abstract paintings of Brice Marden and Robert Ryman, whom he visits at the studio.
Daniel Buren executes White and Green Papers Collage at the Villa (December); he would return to Biumo in 1976 to remake the work.
From the end of the 1960s Giuseppe becomes friends with the Italian art critics Tommaso Trini and Germano Celant.
The Panzas discover Richard Serra’s work and purchase his processual pieces created from 1966 to 1969; that core collection will be integrated in the 1970s with large-scale steel sculptures, such as One Cut Bisected Corners (1973).
Giuseppe and Giovanna visit the seminal exhibition Live in your Head: When Attitudes Become Form curated by Harald Szeemann at the Kunsthalle in Bern (March 22 - April 27), to which they contribute by lending Serra’s Belts (1966-67).
The collectors continue purchasing Minimal Art, including large-scale structures, drawings and certificates of Donald Judd’s works, with a core of some 30 pieces by the artist mostly acquired from Leo Castelli within 1973. This part of the collection also comprises of Andre’s sculpture (representing the evolution of his Floor Pieces), and new works by Flavin and Morris.
Ryman’s first Italian solo show is held at Françoise Lambert Gallery in Milan (December), where his paintings are acquired. A passion for the artist’s oeuvre would lead the Panzas to gather by 1974 seminal series such as Standard (1967) and Classico (1968).
They begin purchasing Weiner’s work on language and focus on his Statements by assembling a copious group of works within 1972.
The end of the 1960s and mid-1970s mark the acquisition of various works by British artists, mostly bought from the Lisson gallery, London - from the interventions of Land artist Richard Long to abstract and conceptual paintings by Bob Law, Peter Joseph and Alan Charlton. During that period the collectors also purchase David Tremlett’s wall drawings and Conceptual artworks by Hamish Fulton and Art & Language.