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.
During the years 1970-1972 it is increased the core collection of Conceptual Art. In Europe the tendency is mainly promoted by German gallerists such as Heiner Friedrich (Köln, Munich), Konrad Fischer (Düsseldorf) and by the Italian Gian Enzo Sperone (Milan, Turin).
Being interested in the relationship between object, language and image Giuseppe purchases copious works by Kosuth, including key-artworks of his creativity such as Titled (Art as Idea as Idea) [Paint], 1966 and, hereafter, The Tenth Investigation. Proposition 4, 1974.
He becomes increasingly interested in conceptual photography through the Duration and Location Pieces (1968 - 70) by Douglas Huebler, and the chrono-photographic progressions of Jan Dibbets and Fulton.
Acquisition of Hanne Darboven’s numerical drawings and time-based works by On Kawara (Today series). Along with Barry’s work on the dematerialization of language, from 1971 Giuseppe engages in philosophical discussions with Ian Wilson, a practice that would continue over the course of time.
The collection of Conceptual Art is extended to the Italian artists Maurizio Mochetti, Vincenzo Agnetti, Pierpaolo Calzolari, Cioni Carpi and Lucio Pozzi.
While purchasing large-scale Minimal works, from the beginning of the 1970s the Panzas become interested in object-reductionist art by Joel Shapiro.
During this period, they begin following Douglas Chrismas’ activity in promoting the American neo-avantgarde through the Ace gallery (Los Angeles and New York).
Tommaso Trini’s article At Home with Art: The Villa of Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo, published in the magazine Art in America (September - October 1970), is the first to diffuse the collection among press and general public internationally.
Visit to Irwin’s solo show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, where the artist executes one of his first Scrim pieces (October 24, 1970 - February 16, 1971).
After Brice Marden’s exhibition at the Sperone gallery in Turin (June 1971), the Panzas begin collecting his radical abstraction; their interest in Minimalist paintings would lead to the acquisition of a group of paintings created by Robert Mangold from 1966 to 1974.
The Rothko Chapel is completed in 1971 (Houston, Texas). Commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil, the chapel was often visited by the Panzas who considered it to be the Sistine Chapel of the 20th-century.
By 1972 Giuseppe had completed restoration of the Rustici wing’s ground level at the Biumo villa. From the 1960s, this private place had increasingly drawn an international audience of critics, collectors, curators, artists and art lovers.
In the 19th-century Stables, designed by the architect Luigi Canonica, Giuseppe devoted each environment to individual artists (Judd, Serra, Nauman) and to Minimalist structures as a whole, thus creating one of the first settings of American neo-avantgarde art in historic architecture.
The 1973 sojourn in Los Angeles triggered Giuseppe’s and Giovanna’s interest in the interaction between art and technology, as well as in the psycho-physical perceptions of the Light & Space movement, with which critics associated Robert Irwin, James Turrell, Eric Orr, Doug Wheeler and Maria Nordman.
While in the United States, they fly over Turrell’s Roden Crater site in the Painted Desert (Arizona) and visit several Land Art interventions; they bear witness to Turrell’s Mendota Stoppages (1969-1974) in his Santa Monica studio which no longer exists.
From 1973 to 1977 the patrons invite artists to create artworks for their Villa - along with Irwin’s site-conditioned works (Varese Portal Room; Varese Scrim; Varese Window Room), the Rustici wing houses site-specific interventions by Turrell (Lunette; Skyspace I; Virga), while Maria Nordman creates Varese Room specifically for the carriage house.
From 1974 on, Turrell’s long-lasting sojourns at the Villa would result in project drawings commissioned by the Panzas, such as Space Chapel (1977).
That same year Sol LeWitt begins executing Wall drawing #146 (1972) in the main stable, the first of a series of wall drawings at the Villa which remained on-site until the Guggenheim Museum’s acquisition (1990-92).
Giuseppe plans the Environmental Art Museum, the first of his museum projects with installation design. Published in the magazines Data and Domus (Summer 1974), it complements a critical text on Environmental Art.
From 1973, with the aim to turn his private collection into a public one, Giuseppe begins negotiating with Italian and international institutions in view to temporary and permanent exhibitions of specific groups of works from the collection. Institutions include: the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf, the Museum Abteiberg in Mönchengladbach (with which negotiations are finalized in 1974-75), and the Kunstmuseum in Basel.
80 artworks from the first collection are exported to Switzerland in view to long-term loans to German museums. The works will be acquired by the Museum of Contemporary Art - MOCA, Los Angeles in 1984.
Visit to Eric Orr’s solo show at the Cirrus Gallery in Los Angeles (October 4 - 30, 1974). The collector is deeply impressed by the psycho-physical experience of Zero Mass (1972-1973), later acquired.
Heiner Friedrich, Philippa de Menil and Helen Winkler establish the Dia Art Foundation (New York, 1974) with the aim to support site-specific and Land Art projects. As a member of the advisory council, Giuseppe contributed to the project phase of the Roden Crater and to De Maria’s The Lightning Field (1977).
Meets artist and anthropologist Richard Nonas in New York (1975).
Art Minimal: Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Carl Andre. Collection Giuseppe Panza di Biumo at the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire in Geneva presents a selection of large-scale artworks (December 4, 1975 - June 3, 1976).
The collection includes approximately 650 artworks.
Break in purchasing activity (1976-1987).
The collection is included in the exhibition series Collectors of the Seventies (1975-1976), organized by the Institute for Art and Urban Resources (IAUR) at Clocktower Gallery in New York. Neo-avantgarde collectors include: Dorothy and Herbert Vogel, Stanley Marsh and Hanns Sohm. Part V: Dr. Giuseppe Panza di Biumo (May 15 - June 25, 1976).
Section Arte Ambientale curated by Giuseppe on the occasion of the show Europa America. L’astrazione determinata, 1960-1976, curated by Flavio Caroli at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Bologna (May - September 1976).
Ambiente Arte curated by Celant at the 37th Venice Biennial exhibits works by artists represented in the collection, such as Irwin, Nordman and Wheeler (July 18 - October 10, 1976).
From 1976 to 1984 Giuseppe develops a series of projects and salvage plans for historical buildings to be used as contemporary art museums with loans and gifts from the collection. These include: the Medici stables at Poggio a Caiano, Cascina Taverna at Parco Forlanini, Villa Scheibler at Quarto Oggiaro, the Rivoli Castle and the Venaria Reale in Turin, Villa Doria Pamphilj in Rome, and the Vigevano Castle.
The approval of the Italian Currency (Tax) Reform on capital transferred abroad (n.159, 1976) imposes two alternatives for the artworks exported in 1974: return of the works in Italy under a taxation of the current market value or sale and subsequent proceeds deposit in the country. The collector submits a request of exemption because of the agreement with the Museum in Düsseldorf. Nevertheless, the exemption is denied and he is denounced to the Court in Rome. The trial takes place in November 1982 and resulted in an acquittal, but the collectors are obliged to sell or to return the artworks to Italy.
In 1977 Varese Corridor (1976) by Flavin, the artist’s solely site-specific work for the Villa, is installed under his supervision. Around it, seminal works such as Monument for those who have been killed in ambush (to P.K. who reminded me about death), 1966, would be displayed in monographic rooms for each fluorescent lights.
The photographic reportage published in the magazine Casa Vogue (February 1978) initiates a long-time friendship and collaboration with photographer Giorgio Colombo who documented the collection over the course of time.
From 1978 the Panzas begin offering Villa Menafoglio Litta Panza Villa as a gift to Lombardy Region. Later, further negotiations will be undertaken with Comune and Varese Province.
Giuseppe delivers a lecture titled How a museum of contemporary art should be at the CIMAM conference Pour une architecture des musées d’art moderne (Paris, September 24 - 29). He exposes his theoretical and pragmatic proposal concerning museum’s architecture and settings.
By 1979, his passion for memento mori had led him to put together a collection of Baroque and Japanese 19th-century sculptures
Exhibition Skulptur: Matisse, Giacometti, Judd, Flavin, Andre, Long at the Kunsthalle in Bern, with a copious loan of artworks from the collection (August - September 1979).
Visit to Martin Puryear’s studio in Chicago. The Panzas would later acquire a total of five installations.