Alessandro Bagnai opened his gallery in Siena in 1987. The gallery soon began to concentrate on a group of artists defined as the “New Roman School”, which included Giuseppe Gallo, Pizzi Cannella, Nunzio, Marco Tirelli and Gianni Dessì. Work with some of them continued over time, forging a close bond that led to the organisation of both museum and gallery exhibitions.
The main focus of the painting of the 1980s was on the relationship, right from the early years, with other artists of previous generations on the international scene. These included Mario Schifano, Sandro Chia, Roberto Barni, Enzo Cucchi, Aldo Mondino, Rainer Fetting and other Europeans and Americans, such as David Salle and Julian Schnabel, all shown in various group exhibitions.
The gallery also handles younger emerging artists such as Massimo Barzagli, Vittorio Corsini, Daniele Galliano, Maurizio Savini, Paolo Leonardo, May Cornet and numerous others, thus alternating exhibitions of artists of the new generation with exhibitions of established masters, such as Günther Uecker.
The gallery works in conjunction with some of the most renowned critics, curators, and art historians, such as Lorand Hegyi, Giorgio Verzotti, Achille Bonito Oliva, Alberto Boatto, Bruno Corà, Stephen Bann and Demetrio Paparoni.
Since 2016, the Alessandro Bagnai Gallery has been operating in its new premises in Foiano della Chiana, in the province of Arezzo, and a new venue in Florence, at Via Maggio 19-21r.
Reportage, Paola Gandolfi
“I’ve made choices in my work, often behaving like a collector rather than a dealer.”
Alessandro Bagnai, Courtesy Galleria Alessandro Bagnai. Foto: Bruno Bruchi
In conversation with Alessandro Bagnai, Galleria Alessandro Bagnai
How did your journey in art begin?
My journey in the art world began out of pure passion. In 1977, I moved from Siena to Rome. Some friends and I used to visit artists’ studios and try to raise funds to finance a magazine. n the 1980s, I returned to my hometown, but I continued to follow what was going on in the art world. I remember late-night discussions with some friends in Piazza del Campo along with Marco Antonio Tanganelli, a remarkable artist who unfortunately died prematurely. In 1986, I knocked on Mario Schifano’s door – I wanted to show him some of his works that I’d bought. And with these, I opened my first gallery exhibition in 1987.
When and how did you launch your gallery?
From 1987 to 1989, during the first two years of business, I exhibited in the gallery works by artists who were linked to my local area. However, I felt an urgent need to build a strong identity for the gallery; I knew I had to do this by working with artists possibly around my own age. I felt close to the work of some artists who worked in Rome in San Lorenzo. The first exhibition of one of the artists from Via degli Ausoni was devoted to Giuseppe Gallo: “Gallo è Pazzo” (Gallo is Crazy). Over the years, there followed exhibitions featuring Pizzi Cannella, Gianni Dessì, Nunzio, and Marco Tirelli. At the same time, I promoted the work of a group of Tuscan artists: Massimo Barzagli, Paolo Fabiani and Vittorio Corsini.
Tell us about the space you’ve chosen for your gallery and its setting.
I’ve often changed exhibition venues – it’s difficult and unnecessary to explain why. I opened in Siena and moved to Florence in 2000. In 2016, a former box factory in Foiano della Chiana in the province of Arezzo was converted from the gallery’s warehouse into its headquarters. A beautiful place, in my opinion, in an area of enormous artistic and scenic interest. I share this space with Galleria Antonella Villanova, with whom I’ll also be sharing premises in Florence, in Via Maggio.
How has the art market changed since you opened your gallery?
I opened at a time when everything was simpler than today, when the world was smaller, let’s say. Today everything seems much more complicated, even for artists. Speculation, which has certainly always been around, was not so prevalent. Auctions had not taken over the market, replacing galleries. Perhaps we had a greater illusion of producing culture.
Are you a collector?
I’ve made choices in my work, often behaving like a collector rather than a dealer. I haven’t looked for shortcuts, I haven’t jumped onto bandwagons. I’ve held on to, not without considerable difficulties, works to which I was particularly attached. My work requires a lot of energy, including financial energy. Parting with certain works is very often difficult.