by Chiara Caratti, photo editor Yourpictureditor
In an evolving market where photography fairs and festivals are growing and becoming increasingly popular and where private companies and institutions give support when public organizations retreat, how art and photo galleries are developing to affirm their role? 29 Arts in Progress Gallery set an example with the solo exhibition Rankin: from Portraiture to Fashion, dedicated to Rankin, one of the world’s most iconic photographer, currently showing in Milan until February 24, 2020.
The idea behind the exhibition revolves around the concepts of interaction and dynamism. Interaction between the artist and the public thanks to events like the past One Shot, where Rankin made himself available to meet in person and portray his public in a lively and intimate environment. Dynamism for the nature of the exhibition itself, where the selection of the shown pictures is changing through time creating different emotions and unlocking a virtuous circle in art fruition.
YP met Luca Casulli, the gallery founder.
Why did you decide to open a Gallery in Milan?
Back in 2012 I was working in a different industry but my passion for art – and photography in particular – had already a central part in my life. Before co-founding the gallery with Eugenio Calini, we were supporting privately different artists and organizing exhibitions in Italy and abroad. So we decided to make this passion our profession. We were so lucky to find a wonderful space located in the heart of Milan, in a typical Milanese court just 100 meters from Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, in the historic district of Sant’Ambrogio. Milan is a global city where national and international artists need to be present: the city is strategically located in Northern Italy, close to Switzerland, France and Germany. We are so proud to work with a diversified network of national and international collectors.
What is your curatorial strategy in choosing the artists to represent?
The gallery represents the work of internationally renowned photographers with a vast portfolio to allow us to deploy a long-term strategy on three key areas: gallery exhibitions, partnership with national and international museums, and international art fairs specialising in photography.
Collectors find at 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS an intimate space and friendly atmosphere: we are a boutique gallery with an international look; we work with some of the most important and influential Italian photographers like Gian Paolo Barbieri, but also with international artists, including Rankin and Greg Gorman.
Alongside contemporary and modern masters, the gallery represents a select group of middle-career and emerging photographers with a strong identity, like French photographer Alain Laboile, and Italian artist Giuseppe Mastromatteo, to name a few.
We are interested in human beings and are constantly looking for artists who have something to say at many levels: aesthetical, psychological, social.
Another key pillar of our curatorial strategy is to involve also younger generations of collectors who have completely different tastes, many of them prefer colour photography rather than more classic works: you need to train their eyes on works closer to their era, it is important for your long-term success.
With the open call Unpublished Photo, now in its second edition, you selected and showcased 5 emerging photographers. What are the current trends in contemporary Photography?
Our annual exhibition Unpublished Photo searches for talented as yet undiscovered artists. A selection committee, in collaboration with the gallery, selects the most original authors not present on the market yet, and this is a demanding process.
It’s difficult to identify “trends” but we see two main approaches in young photographers: on the one hand a rediscovery of the original analogue processes, and on the opposite side a fierce digital manipulation that, in a few cases, convey strong social issues related to the transformation of our society driven by drastic technological changes.
From Portraiture to Fashion by Rankin is a four month evolving show where you will rotate his works according to Milan’s cultural calendar. How a gallery can offer a more dynamic fruition during an exhibition in order to create a better dialogue with its public?
We came up with this idea of constantly rotating works across four months: each rotation is marked with a live event involving the public and the photographer. One Shot was the first one, where people of the public have been photographed by Rankin with the rare Polaroid Land Camera 20×24 in.
We think galleries have to evolve in places where people not only see or buy art but also experience new social interactions both with the artist and with people they have the chance to meet. Galleries have a crucial role in defining the social and cultural fabric of a city.
In which direction are the collectors’ tastes evolving?
I think we are facing two major trends right now in photography collecting. On the one hand, there is an increasing demand for unique pieces coming from seasoned collectors of modern and contemporary art, from very rare vintage works to polaroids.
On the other hand, the vast majority of collectors and the public are hungry for new talent and fresh forms of art photography. This is part of why we hold an open call each year.
What was your dream job when you were a child?
I wanted to start my own business in the film industry, matching business and creativity, culture and economics. I was not too far…it is rewarding but very challenging, that’s why I love it.
Cover photo: Jude Law 1995 by Rankin. Courtesy of 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS gallery