We are pleased to announce Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo as a new Major Patron of CIMAM

31 October 2023

Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Patrizia.jpg
Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Founder and President of the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo has become a Major Patron of CIMAM in 2023.

Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo is founder and president of the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. After graduating in Economics, she approached contemporary art as a collector in the early 1990s. Her passion for art became an organised activity in 1995 when she established the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. In 1997, the Fondazione's first site was inaugurated in Guarene, in Palazzo Re Rebaudengo, an 18th century residence in the hills of Piedmont. In 2002, the Fondazione continued its development and promotion of contemporary art, inaugurating the headquarter of Turin, an art centre of international standing. In 2017 she founded the Fundación Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Madrid of which she is president.

Since 2008, she has been a member of the Gruppo Tecnico Cultura of Confindustria Nazionale. Since 2014, she has been President of the Comitato Fondazioni Arte Contemporanea and, since 2017, she is also President of the Fondazione IEO-Monzino, of the European Institute of Oncology and of the Monzino Cardiology Centre in Milan. Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo is a member of boards and councils of many museums and institutions worldwide: MoMA, Tate Modern, New Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, ENSBA de Lyon, Bard College, Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai, ICI- Independent Curators International, Fundación MACBA.

She has received several awards and honorary titles, including the recognition of "Ufficiale della Repubblica Italiana" (2005) and the title of "Chevalier de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres" awarded by the French Republic (2009). She has also been awarded the "Montblanc Arts Patronage Prize" (2003), the "AIDDA" prize (2003), the "Marisa Bellisario" Prize (2005). In 2019 she received the Leo Award from ICI of New York, in 2020 the designation of "Ambasciatrice nel mondo delle eccellenze torinesi", in 2021 the award "Torinese dell'anno". In 2022 the Rinascimento + Prize and in 2023 the Premio Internacional de Mecenazgo for her patronage commitment. In 2023, she received the honour of “Commendatore della Repubblica”.

Since 2015, she has been a lecturer at the IULM University of Milan.

You have a background in economics, but since 1990 you have had a passion for contemporary art. Could you explain how this passion began and how your career as an art collector evolved until you created the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in 1995?

I think collecting is part of my DNA. Art has been part of my life since I was a child. I grew up around paintings and old art objects. My mum loved collecting Sevres and Meissen porcelain and even as a child I collected small pillboxes, all catalogued and numbered in a little notebook. In 1992 during a journey to London, I discovered contemporary art. That trip was deeply fundamental. I visited many museums, galleries, and above all I started to get to know the artists, to visit their studios and to establish an authentic relationship with many of them. Directly meeting the artists opened up a whole new world for me. In this way, I started collecting contemporary art.

I was introduced to contemporary art during the season of the Young British Artists, the new generation then emerging on the art scene. Meeting an artist like Anish Kapoor, Rachel Whiteread or Julian Opie, conversing with them in their studio, in the midst of their works, made me realise the extraordinary possibility that contemporary art offers us: to get to know the world and its complexities through the vision of creative people living in our own time.

My Collection has been developing following a definite approach, that favours art that has a strong connection with the present. For me, an interesting work of art captures the present, anticipates the future and, in the future, will tell a story of the past.

I decided to start collecting contemporary art with a focus on works by alive artists and that had just been realized at the time when I bought them. To begin with my collection was very "generational" - it grew out of my friendships with artists who were approximately my age. I was interested in what artists of my age thought and did, in the way artists from my generation saw the world in which we were living. Through them, I learnt to look ahead, to understand art being created by the youngest generations, and the themes and practices that interests them.

At the beginning, my collection followed five themes, each of which explored aspects of artistic production from the 80s until today: British art, artists working in Los Angeles, Italian art, female artists and photography. In recent years, with the globalization and the widening of the international artistic scene, that today offers the possibility to reach so many artists from so many different countries and cultures, I can no longer categorize my collection by nationality, genre or ways and means of expression. So, my collection too has developed more into an evolving global map of art production.

I studied and visited many museums, artist studios, galleries, fairs, and biennials around the world. As I travelled, I started to learn about foreign realities dedicated to contemporary art and to notice the lack of institutions in Italy. I realised that there was still much to be done. So, starting from my desire to support artists, to share my collection with the public and to make up for the lack of institutions dedicated to contemporary art, I decided to set up Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. The Fondazione is a non-profit institution that in its sites in Turin, Guarene, among the hills of the Roero (Piedmont), Venice and Madrid, proposes exhibitions and an educational programme aimed at children, families, schools, young people and the vulnerable, paying great attention to issues of accessibility and inclusion. Contemporary art is an extraordinary instrument of knowledge and confrontation: in these 30 years of activity, I have been committed to making it known, supporting the research and works of young artists, building a relationship with an increasingly broader public, and promoting the training of professionals working in the art system.

Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

In 1995, you founded the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. Could you tell us more about the foundation's mission to promote contemporary art and culture?

I have always thought of the Fondazione to be a place for an active dialogue and a constant creation of contents. Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo has three main aims: to promote both Italian and international artists by realizing exhibitions or by supporting the production new works; to bring an ever growing public closer to contemporary art; to create dialogue, exchange, and partnerships with other worldwide art institutions. The first aim comes about through supporting the production of new works and showing works when artists are invited by the Fondazione to present projects related to our exhibition programme. Another way is through commissioning and co-producing new, often ambitious, works when artists ask for our support. Another way is through the production of works for prestigious cultural events such as the Venice Biennale or documenta.

Concerning the second aim, the Fondazione has an Educational Department to accommodate local schools, to care about all the visitors with special needs, to run courses for adults about contemporary art as well as to provide a team of art mediators situated within the exhibition space. The Fondazione is a true ecosystem, in which the production of works and exhibitions is in harmony with educational activity and specialist training, and also with cultural mediation and practices of accessibility to viewers. All these areas are reflected in the structure of the Fondazione, where each department has its own identity and specific professional skills, but all work together. Today we are experimenting this with an approach based on an even closer exchange.

Attività educative_FSRR
Educational activity at the FSRR

Regarding the importance to build a relation with artists and curators for the Fondazione, I would like to mention our Young Curators Residency Programme. Since 2007 the Fondazione created an intensive research residency based in Italy, that has the dual objective of developing the professional and critical skills of selected young international curators, while aiming at spreading knowledge of the Italian art scene on an international level. The residency provides every year the opportunity for three young curators - carefully selected by a jury from among the best curatorial schools in the world - to come to Italy and, accompanied by an Italian curator, to spend three months travelling among museums, galleries and above all getting to know young Italian artists.

At the end, the curators in residence curate an exhibition dedicated precisely to Italian art. This project clearly presents the commitment of the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo to the national contemporary art scene as well as its engagement with emerging curatorial practice. This is an effective way to generate networking and to keep a constantly updated dialogue.

For Italian curators, on the other hand, we started Campo, a highly specialised school for curatorial practices for which we select ten young Italian curators each year from the many applications we receive. The curators study at our Fondazione in Turin and make many study trips along the way.

The Fondazione has expanded over the years, with locations in Guarene, Turin, and Madrid. How have these different locations contributed to the foundation's activities?

The Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin and Guarene, together with the Fundación in Madrid, form a constellation, a geographical pattern that creates a concrete exchange of ideas based on places, communities, knowledge, and cultures.

In 1997 we opened Palazzo Re Rebaudengo, in Guarene, a small village nestled among the hills of the Langhe-Roero, home of the white truffle, Barolo and Barbaresco wines and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Palazzo Re Rebaudengo is a historical 18th century mansion, adapted for use as an exhibition space for contemporary art, preserving the original architecture and bringing close interaction between past and present.

In Guarene we aim to bring art back into nature, close to people, in the village and therefore in landscape and housing dimensions far from the cities, in public spaces and in outdoor places where everyone can see the works and enter a relationship with them. Here in Guarene, in 2019, before pandemic, we created the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Art Park on the San Licerio Hill. It is a place, with free entry, where Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo presents outdoor installations, among the rows of a Nebbiolo vineyard – from which we produce our rosé wine – and also willows, oaks and the wild greenery of an ancient wood. The installations are created by recognized artists, both in the Italian and in the international scene. In the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Art Park the sculptures dialogue with nature, enter into harmony with the landscape and contemporary art lives side-by-side with nature. The artists (permanent artworks) are Ludovica Carbotta, Manuele Cerutti, Carsten Höller, Paul Kneale, Wilhelm Mundt, Marguerite Humeau, Katja Novitskova, Stefano Arienti, Stefano Boeri, Marinella Senatore.

In September 2002, the Fondazione opened its current headquarters, a 4.000 square metre centre for contemporary art in Turin. The building was designed by architect Claudio Silvestrin. The Turin site is a newly built museum in a neighbourhood that bears witness to the city's industrial past and its transformations. The building used to be a factory for car rims, stands in front of a public garden and is a neutral and linear structure. Inside, it is completely white, and the space can change shape according to the wishes of the artists. With a gallery space of over 1.500 square metres, a bookshop, auditorium, educational room, cafeteria designed by Rudolf Stingel and Spazio7, a Michelin-starred restaurant, the centre is a flexible structure that presents exhibitions bringing together artists as well as operating as a meeting place for many different audiences and ages and an experimental platform for contemporary culture.

Since 2002, the Fondazione has provided a free cultural mediation service where a trained group of young people are located inside the exhibition space to spark conversation and the curiosity of all our visitors in response to exhibition projects. We strive to work with the local areas, to develop meaningful, long-term collaborations and programmes.

We also do this through numerous projects dedicated to people with additional needs and disabilities: the starting point is listening to people’s needs, exchanging ideas and ongoing research for improvement. A special feature is also our collaboration with professionals from different disciplines complementary to contemporary art.

Specifically, the Educational Department offers visits and workshops related to current exhibitions, in-depth workshops, meetings and interviews with artists, focus on contemporary art professions, training for teachers and operators, ways of engagement for people with additional needs, e-learning activities in English, school-work alternation, programmes for kindergartens and toy libraries, and workshops for families.

In 2017 I have established Fundación Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Madrid. The Fundación is very active and operates a 'nomadic' exhibition programme in the city of Madrid. Every year we identify special places where we produce solo exhibitions. These have included Ian Cheng at the Fundación Fernando de Castro in 2020, Michael Armitage at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in 2022 and Lucas Arruda at the Ateneo in 2023. In 2020, we also brought our annual Young Curators Residency Programme to Spain (it has been active in Italy since 2007), which gives foreign curators the chance to explore the art scene in Spain (as we do in Italy) and to meet and work with Spanish artists. This works both ways, with local and national artists meeting and being recognised by curators from different parts of the world.

Last but not list: San Giacomo Island, the upcoming third venue of the Italian foundation. The island is in the Venetian Lagoon, is a precious natural environment, a space of the future, an outpost of dreams. We have begun restoration work on three gunpowder warehouses that will become art spaces and residences for artists. San Giacomo will be a space to produce artistic projects, to host research and discourse on art, music, cinema, theatre, and contemporary culture. Surrounded by the delicate ecosystem of the Venetian lagoon, San Giacomo will become a laboratory for ecological reflection, in which the principles of sustainability and energy transition can be put into practice. It will be an island based on the principle of circularity of resources. In fact, we are designing the island to be energy self-sufficient. I would like San Giacomo to become a crossroads and a route between the canals of the lagoon north of Venice, in turn connecting with the world. It will be a place open to the public. In April 2022, on the occasion of the opening of the 59th Venice Biennale, we invited the Brazilian artist Jota Mombaça to realise a performance as an opening act. The performance "in the tired watering", curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, confronted the dynamic qualities of water, the anxieties linked to the climate and environmental crisis, and the awareness of the imminence of a possible planetary catastrophe. This first event on the island was connected precisely to water, a reference inherent to the place and the maximum vehicle for the expression of its qualities.

You have been involved with numerous museums and institutions worldwide, such as MoMA, Tate Modern, and the New Museum, among others. How does your involvement with these organizations contribute to your work with the Fondazione or other projects related to contemporary art and culture?

I am a member of the International Council of the MoMA in New York, of the International Council of the Tate Gallery in London and of the Leadership Council of the New Museum in New York; I sit on the Advisory Committee for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, on the board of directors of the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Lyon, on the Board of Governors of the Center for Curatorial Studies of Bard College in New York, on the Patronato of the Fundación MACBA in Barcelona, on the Board of Trustees of the ICI in New York, on the Council of the Serpentine Galleries and, recently, on the Major Patrons of CIMAM.

These participations are a great added value for Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo because they give us the opportunity to build a dialogue with some of the most important cultural institutions in the world and to collaborate on and co-produce projects. These important collaborations include the partnership between the Fondazione and the Philadelphia Museum of Art that resulted in The Future Fields Commission in Time-Based Media, where every two years we invite and commission a new work from an artist working with digital media, film, video, sound and performance. In 2018, we presented the work of Rachel Rose, in 2021 a work by Martine Syms and in 2022 one by Lawrence Abu Hamdan.

In the precious contexts offered by this board, I have had the opportunity to meet and get to know a great number of collectors and curators, exchange ideas with them, visit exhibition spaces, collections and foundations, and to observe different approaches to culture.

Meeting artists, curators, museum directors and other collectors has really changed my life. It was a great gift that I immediately felt I had to somehow share with others, as a way of returning to people this great privilege I have had. The Fondazione is my way to do that, by supporting and promoting artists and by bringing an ever-growing public closer to contemporary art.

Thanks to the many relationships I have therefore been able to weave all over the world, through the years we have shown the collection in many institutions in Italy and abroad, and I think this is really a fundamental part of the work of the Fondazione’s work and the intention to make the collection shared and widely visible. I would just like to name you a few: Sala de Exposiciones del Canal de Isabel II in Madrid; Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo; IVAM in Valencia; Ciudad Grupo Santander in Madrid; Whitechapel Gallery in London; Maison Particulière in Bruxelles; Centro de Arte Contemporanea in Quito; Sheffield Cathedral; Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai; Touchstones Rochdale Art Gallery; MACRO in Rome; Mo.Co in Montpellier; Palazzo Strozzi in Florence.

What role do you think contemporary art plays in society, and how does the Fondazione contribute to its growth and appreciation, specifically in the city of Torino?

Art draws on the present, current events, history and, at the same time, illuminates ideas and visions of the future. It provides the key to reading our time from unexpected and undisciplined perspectives, outside current narratives, and the rules of communication. I think of art as a free zone, a language that transcends languages. I am a great believer in its reflective, narrative capacities, in its reciprocity, a characteristic that at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo is the path to all relations with the public, through the art mediation facilities, educational activities, and accessibility projects. The choices on which I have built the Foundation clearly and transparently express the personal motives and broader values that drove me to set up a non-profit institution: a private foundation that I chose to model on that of a public museum. A museum-laboratory capable of creating content, promoting knowledge, inspiring and supporting young creative generations, making contemporary art an engine for education and an important factor in community building. Contemporary art plays an important role in the process of extending the right to cultural citizenship and is therefore for me a tangible asset for the lives of people and our society.

I firmly believe that art and culture play a decisive role in democratic life. Through the Fondazione, we continuously connect with the territory and the city of Turin and its communities. We have always built relationships with museums and cultural institutions in the city and around the world. I am thinking of the exhibition Come una falena alla fiamma (Like a moth to the flame), a major exhibition project realised on the occasion of a new Fondazione CRT space in Turin and presented in 2017 in the premises of the two Turin institutions. The exhibition delineated a portrait of the city of Turin starting from the objects that the city itself and its residents have collected, in a journey through the Collection of the Fondazione per l'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea CRT and the Collection of the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in dialogue with a nucleus of works conserved in some of the city's major public museum institutions, including the Museo Egizio, Palazzo Madama, MAO - Museo d'Arte Orientale, GAM - Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea and Castello di Rivoli, in a play of mutual contamination between works of contemporary art and works from past centuries.

Mediation team. FSRR

Could you share with us some thoughts on the educational programs and research initiatives that the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo offers to engage the public and encourage dialogue around contemporary art?

Education is a priority for the Fondazione. Our educational work in Turin benefits children from 2-year-olds, teenagers, art academy and university students, teachers, people with additional needs, families and adults. We firmly believe in the idea of an accessible museum, one which enables each visitor to take advantage of the cultural content we offer. This is the reason why we have so many different projects, involving so many kinds of publics: family Sundays every month, free workshops for adults on Thursday evenings, intensive workshops for teenagers and university students and special projects for infant and primary schools all year long, permanent activities for people with additional needs or disabilities (especially with the Italian Union of Blind People) and e-learning projects.

From the moment we opened the space in Turin, we were looking at innovative ways to interact with our visitors. Art mediation has been an incredibly successful way to engage our audiences and facilitate the relationship between the visitors and the artworks. We believe that engaging with the arts is a vital component of every person’s education and development: contemporary art often uses unconventional methods, media and messages that push the boundaries of traditional art forms.

Moreover, we aim to establish a meaningful dialogue with young people, artists, and audience. That’s why we designed Verso, a programme dedicated to young people between the ages of 15 and 29, ideated by the Fondazione and the Youth Policy sectors of the Piedmont Region and the Italian Government. Started in June 2021, it offered exhibitions, workshops, research grants, public programme, in a real training of the younger generation in democratic debate and political and critical thinking.

Regarding training and research, as previously mentioned, since 2007 we have been running a Young Curators Residency Programme and since 2012, we have established a school for Italian curators called Campo.

How do you see the intersection between art collecting, philanthropy, and the positive impact it can have on the cultural landscape?

Patronage today makes sense if, and when, it is embedded in reality. Bringing art into the lives of people in a concrete and supportive way, helping to design new training, mediation and education programmes is a valuable civic commitment; working on the programming of a private, non-profit institution in favour of a widespread and democratic culture, one that can reach all publics, large, small and new, and to grow together with them.

I believe that art patronage today is defined by supporting artists’ careers and practices, providing them, for instance, with opportunities for exposure, keeping in mind that the end goal is their success, and the fulfilment of their artistic research. It is necessary to have clear that the ways of being a patron change with the generations: the collecting and philanthropic landscape today is not the same one as in the 1990s when I started collecting. For instance, today there is an increased wish on the patrons’ side for being more active in supporting artists’ careers: patrons today do not simply want to be the financiers of an artist’s practice through the purchase of artworks. They often proactively seek opportunities to promote the work of the artists they champion and are very keen on spreading their passion to their social circle, as well as to a wider audience.

Patronage will also remain an important component of public institution funding, although over the past 10-20 years there has been a shift, whereby prolific collectors prefer to establish their own exhibition space, rather than funding a public institution. If this trend continues, and relationships between private and public institutions are not managed well, I believe the unbalanced landscape will present a new challenge; however, if they are well managed, I believe they will present interesting opportunities, possibly better reflecting the globalised art world we currently live in.

You have received numerous awards and distinctions for your contribution to art, including the "Chevalier de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres" and the "International Patronage Award." How do these awards inspire and motivate you in your philanthropic endeavors?

The nominations I receive make me honoured. Each time is an indescribable emotion. They make me proud for many reasons, related to the reasons for the award or the identity of the awarding institution. I am thinking for example of the nomination as Torinese dell’anno in 2022. In that case it sealed the bond I have with my city, the city where I was born, where I built my professional career and where the Fondazione has its headquarters. The honours are an incentive to my daily commitment in the cultural sphere and in that of contemporary art which, I am convinced, represents a formidable tool for knowledge, comparison, and interpretation of our world. Internationally, I think of when I had the opportunity to receive the LEO Award from the ICI in NY, the most important association of international curators.