In 1986, at the age of twenty-two, Alfonso Artiaco launched his gallery in Pozzuoli, on Corso Nicola Terracciano, with the group exhibition Possibilità di collezione. The works on exhibit, collected over time, were by such artists as Carlo Alfano, Alighiero Boetti, Joseph Beuys, Enzo Cucchi, Luciano Fabro, Nino Longobardi, Luigi Ontani, Giulio Paolini, Mario Schifano, and Andy Warhol.
After this first exhibition, the gallery narrowed its field of action, focusing heavily on Arte Povera, conceptual and minimal art, confirmed with exhibitions by Richard Artschwager, Giuseppe Penone, Niele Toroni, Giovanni Anselmo, Wolfgang Laib and Lawrence Weiner. In 1995, the gallery was temporarily moved to Via Mameli in Pozzuoli, with an inaugural exhibition by Carl Andre and Sol LeWitt. In 1997, the gallery returned to its first location, with a solo exhibition by Jannis Kounellis. In 2003, the gallery moved to Naples, in Piazza dei Martiri. There, in 2010, it opened another space with an exhibition by Magnus Plessen. In November 2012, the gallery opened its present location in Piazzetta Nilo with an exhibition by Liam Gillick and a tribute to Sol LeWitt.
An Accounting, Maria Thereza Alves
“One day, a friend said to me, “You're so interested in art, why don't you think about making it your job?””
Alfonso Artiaco. Courtesy Alfonso Artiaco. Photo: Grafiluce
In conversation with Alfonso Artiaco
Is it different being a gallerist in Italy than it is in other countries? Is there a “Made in Italy” factor to your work?
I don’t think that there’s another way to be a gallerist, but rather a style and personal way of working. The “Made in Italy” factor, apart from an obvious question of nationality, has to do with a meticulous approach to detail and a special focus on the relationships with artists and collectors.
What you predict for the future of the art system in your sector? What will your greatest challenges be?
The greatest challenge will be reorganizing our work, which is rapidly changing. But despite this, I can see that people interested in art really want to connect. The technology is taking up more and more space: it’s likely that Covid only accelerated a process that was already set in motion, but I’m convinced that a direct relationship between the people and the works of art is still crucial.
How did your career in art begin?
I’ve always been really passionate about art. When I was a teenager, I started reading magazines, visiting galleries and museums, even buying my first works of art at prices that even a kid could afford. One day, a friend said to me, “You’re so interested in art, why don’t you think about making it your job?” Thanks to a property that my parents owned, I was able to open my gallery in my hometown of Pozzuoli at age 22. It was 1986.
Tell us about the space you chose for your gallery and the surrounding area.
Running a gallery means having to adapt to international standards, especially in terms of space. The lack of industrial architecture forced me to look at large apartments in historic buildings. In 2012, I saw this prestigious 600 square-meter space in Piazzetta Nilo, in an aristocratic palazzo. An impressive venue that’s also very functional.
Something important you’ve learned from an artist? And a collector?
I’ve met so many artists and collectors over the years, but also colleagues who I’m really grateful to, who helped me grow and understand how to deal with a public that has such mixed tastes. I come from a good background, a good family education, but in the art world, it’s not enough. You need the kind of sensibility and approach that can only be learned from those with plenty of experience behind them.