collector: Bruno Bolfo | The arts journal
In 2019, Bruno Bolfo, collector of Italian origin and based in Lugano, created the Institute of Contemporary Art of Milan, an exhibition and project space in the Ripamonti district near the Fondazione Prada, where it is today ‘hui founding member and vice-president. President. With a mission to promote cutting-edge art from around the world, the non-profit institution shares Bolfo’s approach to art, based on a love of conceptual art and a commitment to supporting artists. emerging international organizations.
After working for a decade in the family-owned steel company Duferco, Bolfo decided last year to go it alone and create Particle, an organization that creates immersive art and design experiences. A new sustainability-themed project in collaboration with design studio Lanzavecchia + Wai based in Italy and Singapore will be launched at the UN Climate Summit COP26 in Glasgow in November.
The Art Newspaper: What was the first artwork you bought?
Bruno Bolfo: It was a Marylin work by Chilean artist Marcella Bonfanti, which I bought in 2007. I saw one of her works at a friend’s house and loved it, so I went to Galleria Seno in Milan and immediately bought one of his works.
What is the most recent part you bought?
A medium sized orange oil on canvas by American artist Nathlie Provosty.
As you browse your collection, what are the main themes that emerge?
I started collecting in college, and largely due to a limited budget, I started with emerging artists, but it didn’t stop. My approach to collecting is very research-based and this drew me into concept art, which is what my collection mainly focuses on. Artists in my collection include American artist Joseph Kosuth and German Hans Haacke. I also collect post-war works by artists such as Jonas Mekas, paintings by Idris Khan, and fashion photography. There are a lot of Italians but I don’t collect a single nationality. A friend of mine noticed that I mostly collect female artists, but that’s not a conscious choice. I collect what interests me and what excites me.
You like to collect with your wife. Have you ever disagreed about art?
I never disagree with her choices, but sometimes she doesn’t like what I choose. For example, I bought a sculpture by Filipino artist Ronald Ventura that she doesn’t like, but it’s in the middle of the house, so she has to take care of it.
How long did it take you longest to buy a work of art?
A work by Cypriot artist Haris Epaminonda, who creates sculptures from found objects and materials. It took over six years to find the right one. I went through different galleries, auctions, and then I ended up finding two at a time. One is an installation that was shown at Documenta 14 and the other is a sculpture that was subsequently exhibited at the Kunsthalle in Lisbon.
Keith Haring’s Andy Mouse works are what made me fall in love with art
If your house was on fire, what would you take?
I don’t know to be honest, maybe a Haris Epaminonda, it’s not an easy choice.
If you could have dinner with an artist, living or dead, who would it be?
Definitely Keith Haring. I first saw his work during an art history class in college, and the one that really caught my eye is his series from 1986 Andy Mouse– these works are what made me fall in love with art. I would love to talk to Haring about art, its power to engage people, hot topics and… anything else.
If money weren’t an item, what would you buy?
Keith Haring. I have my wish list in mind, but when I decide to buy one, I will look for the one that will suit my collection.
What work do you regret not having bought when you had the chance?
A sculptural installation by Italian artist Monica Bonvicini.