We can start talking about history – even for an art gallery – only after a great deal of time has passed. Unfortunately, galleries don’t last long. When I look back and try to recall gallery names, it’s a bit of a blur. A good gallery often has a short life, and a terrible one sometimes has a long life. What’s hard is maintaining quality over a long period. I think I can safely say that the gallery bearing my name has managed to keep the stakes high from 1973 to today. What alchemy is needed to win the race against time? Time flies, of course, but what counts today, more than fleeting time, is the constantly changing scenario.
Art transmuting from one attitude to another. How do we pursue the “isms,” the innovations, the changes? While every one of us has been deeply involved in an idea, we all find it hard to admit that its exact opposite has the same value, and yet that’s the way of the world. To bear witness to this continuum of contradiction, a gallery owner has to rely on others to help him choose.
And so MASSIMO MININI slowly becomes FRANCESCA MININI. But then the old gallery exhibits new works by young artists… and the young gallery exhibits historic works. The cards are shuffled into the deck. Who’ll have the winning hand?
Archivio Massimo, Formafantasma
“ The Italian art scene is characterized by "amateurs," in the literal sense of the term - an art that brings pleasure and not just problems.”
Massimo Minini. Courtesy Galleria Massimo Minini, Brescia. Photo: Giovanni Gastel
In conversation with Massimo Minini, Galleria Massimo Minini
In Italy, is there a way to be a gallery owner that is different than in other countries? Is there a “Made in Italy” of your work? What characterizes the Italian art scene?
In Italy there is the gallerist with a human face. He is closer personally to the artist, rather than to his work. The Italian art scene is characterized by “amateurs,” in the literal sense of the term – an art that brings pleasure and not just problems.
Something important you’ve learned from an artist?
I visited Daniel Buren in Paris before opening my gallery. I asked him about doing an exhibition. He asked: “What’s your gallery’s program?” “I don’t know. If you tell me yes, you’ll be the first!” “Eh, no! I can’t show in a gallery that doesn’t have a program yet. Send me your invitations. In three years, I’ll tell you if it’s yes or no.” One year later, Buren telephoned me. We did the exhibition. Evidently he liked me. Good lesson.
The most unexpected visit you ever received at your gallery?
It was during an exhibition by Dan Graham and Gabriele Basilico, curated by Maurizio Bortolotti. A big crowd, a book published by Ringier. The photos, all mixed up on a wall, stood out for their frames, their formats, and of course for their subjects and the way of photographing them. Then the door opened and Chuck Close walked in! Dan fainted and Gabriele turned white. We’ve never known what he was doing in Brescia that day.
Are there any social, environmental or educational initiatives related to art that you have recently undertaken or would like to dedicate yourself to in the future?
At the beginning of 2020, being unable to go to exhibitions, everyone took refuge in the network. To overcome this, I created – together with the BELLEARTI association, founded in Brescia in recent months –ART DRIVE-IN, an exhibition hosted in a garage, which can be visited only by car. The works, set up on site by established as well as promising young artists, will be permanent, like the frescoes of the past on the walls of palazzos.