Giuseppe Panza was born in Milan in 1923 to a prominent family of Italian wine merchants. He studied law and entered the real estate business, but soon became devoted to his true love: acquiring contemporary art for himself and for the leading museums of the world. He credited an interior “thermometer” that enabled him to spot up-and-coming movements, artists, and works of art, and over the course of fifty years and hundreds of purchases he was rarely wrong.
Memories of a Collector
One of the world’s foremost collectors of modern art shares the story of his remarkable life, times, and culture.
A dedicated collector and advocate of contemporary art since the late 1940s, Giuseppe Panza has played a fundamental role in the artistic culture of his time, introducing American phenomena such as Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, Pop Art, Environmental Art, and Conceptualism to the museums of Europe. Now, in a brilliant response to everyone’s primary question about Modern Art—“What does it mean?”—Panza shares philosophical insights and personal reflections that bridge a half-century of discovering new artists and movements.
Panza was among the first to buy the works of Rothko, Kline, Lichtenstein, and many of the other major figures of post-WWII art, watching as their works skyrocketed in monetary value as well as historic importance. He pursued collecting with undiminished enthusiasm through the 1980s and 1990s, all the while searching for the best venues in which to display his latest acquisitions. Sections of his private collection were exhibited by and acquired into major collections, particularly the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim in New York. Among his signature innovations was the juxtaposition of contemporary art with historic settings—Baroque palaces, ancient European public buildings, his own eighteenth-century villa—in order to create unexpected and stimulating dialogs between the architectural context and the work of art.
Complete with 110 full-color illustrations, spanning decades of transformation in art and world culture, Giuseppe Panza: Memories of a Collector provides a unique glimpse into the movements and trends that have defined modern art. It is also the fascinating life story of a man who helped define the trends themselves, through passion, insight, and prophetic taste.