Giorgio and Anna Fasol’s home is one you always enter with the reverence and admiration due to the true greats. On its walls are traces of old picture nails that once held who knows what, and that now, however carefully puttied over, bear witness to a story of collecting that has lasted more than half a century.
Andrea Boghi: Giorgio, when the Artissima staff suggested I do this interview I agreed right away. What better excuse to come to Verona and visit your private collection, talk about how the two of you developed this passion, and see where it’s taking you, in part because—to be honest—if someone asked what collectors I look to for inspiration, I would say in the past, Panza di Biumo, and in the present, Giorgio Fasol.
Giorgio Fasol: Oh, get away with you!
AB: No, it’s true, and I’ll tell you why. Every time we get the chance to talk, or when I read an interview you’ve given, I’m struck by how much we have in common. To start with, ignorance.
GF: True enough.
AB: In the sense that we both started collecting out of curiosity, knowing little or nothing about contemporary art, but gradually building up knowledge through curiosity, enthusiasm, and research. But I’m the one who’s supposed to be interviewing you, not vice-versa, so let’s start off with the big news of the moment: the birth of a new collaboration between AGI Verona [a non-profit association founded by Anna and Giorgio Fasol] and the University of Verona. Eighty works from your collection have been selected to be showcased on the university premises, primarily—at least for now—in its library and Economics department.
GF: It’s still in the early stages, but what I’d like—or rather, I’ll insist on—is for students to be brought in on the project, for the works to be means of getting students involved. They’ll be the ones to lead visitors through the university and act as docents. When we put together our first group of students, they were supposed to present the artworks to their teachers and were worried they wouldn’t be up to the task. So I reminded them that the teachers knew even less then they did; it turned out to be a huge success.
AB: Wonderful but risky, since works exhibited in everyday student spaces could get damaged. GF: Yes, but it’s a risk you have to take. I care about young people. AB: How do you choose an artwork? GF: I do research. When I go to visit a gallery I’m already basically familiar with what the artist does.
AB: So the days of ignorance are over.
GF: You know what my research is? It’s visual. I’m interested in the work, if the work makes an impression on me then I find out more about the artist, if it’s someone I don’t know, and try to go see their work in person.
AB: And at fairs, what’s your approach? It’s almost impossible to arrive at a fair already knowing all the work that’s going to be there, and that’s part of what I enjoy about a fair like Artissima: you can see what direction the artists you already collect are moving in now and discover new ideas and/or new galleries.
GF: I’m an “information thief,” if you will: at fairs I run into friends who are gallerists, curators, artists and collectors. They’ll all say something about works that have caught their eye. So I go take a look to discover new things.
AB: And what about Artissima? It started in 1994, so this is its twenty-sixth edition. How long have you been going?
GF: Ever since it started, we’ve only missed it once or twice in these twenty-six years.
AB: Any funny anecdotes?
GF: Tons. In 2008, the opening day. I went to the stand of ArteRicambi, a gallery from Verona, and saw this provocative work by Giovanni Morbin, a steel swastika transformed into a planter full of flowers and greenery. I snapped it right up. A few hours later I get a call from Andrea Bellini, the artistic director at the time, who tells me the work has set off a firestorm and that they have to take it out of the fair. The next day I read all kinds of crazy things in the papers: that it didn’t sell; that—on the contrary—it sold for a staggering sum but only due to the controversy it sparked. I contacted all the papers and demanded they get it right. The next day they all published a correction of what they’d said the day before.
AB: How do you envision the future of your collection?
GF: I have something totally innovative in mind that’s going to blow you away. You’ll see! And as he says this he gives me a mischievous look, with the bright, keen eyes of an 81-year-old dynamo who still has plenty to contribute to the history of Italian collecting.