“The artist’s knowledge is a key part of the growth of my collection”

Interview with collector Ettore Rossetta

Ever since the Naples-based collector Ettore Rossetta came across the smell of paint diluent for the first time, he has been using all his senses to take in the world of art and build up a dynamic and colourful collection. The possibility to get insights into the minds of artists is a main driving force and ultimately, it comes down to one thing: the wondrous lives of people.

Name: Ettore Rossetta
Location: Naples
Started collecting in year: 1995
Number of artworks in collection: 50+
Name of collection: Collezione Ettore Rossetta
Instagram: ettorerossetta

Ettore Rossetta. Photo: Danilo Donzelli

What is your earliest memory of art, and what led you to start collecting?
It’s a smell! The orange perfume of the natural diluent is an indispensable element of painting that keeps reminding me of the creative process, which takes place before the painting is considered ‘done’ and is repositioned from the studio space to the white walls of a gallery. There was one person in particular who used this type of diluent, and I thank him for bringing me closer to art.

What is the main motivation behind your collecting?
The fact that I’m craving for knowledge and want to keep on learning is a crucial driving force behind my collecting. Collecting expands horizons and opens your mind in completely new ways that challenge and potentially change your perspective on life.

Describe your collection in three words.
Young, dynamic, and colourful!

Do you remember the first artwork you purchased?
The very first artwork in my collection was actually a present; it was a piece by a Naples-based artist. At that time, he was a young talent with no exhibition record, so it was a pleasant surprise when I came across his works in an exhibition at a well-known Neapolitan museum a few weeks ago. The first artwork I purchased myself was an oil on wood by The Luo brothers. I was enchanted by the economic development that characterized China at the end of the 90s, and to me, this artwork stood out as one of the first proofs of this moment in time.

Alex Chaves
Alex Chaves
Håvard Homstvedt

Is there any particular type of art that appeals to you or anything that unites all the works in your collection?
I firmly believe that whatever done with ‘maestranza’ (‘a master of any art’, derived from the Italian word ‘maestro) can be termed “art” – a good movie, good music, a fashion creation and a painting as well. The ‘fil rouge’ that unites all the works of my collection is ‘identity’, the constant search for my/our being, the identity of the individual within society.

How has your collection grown since you started?
It has grown through constant research work, interest in art itself, art-related friendships, galleries, and artists.

How important is it for you to meet the artist behind an artwork in your collection?
As I mentioned earlier, the artist’s knowledge is a key part of the growth of my collection. I spend more time with artists than with gallerists. For me, the interesting part lies in getting to know their point of view, which is what truly enriches my ‘identity’.

What is the most recent piece of art you added to your collection and why?
It is a work by the young artist Vittorio Brodmann who is represented by the major American gallery Gawin Brown’s enterprise. I bought it because I see myself as a young man in the painting!

Vittorio Brodmann
Runo Lagomarsino
Runo Lagomarsino

What work of art do you wish you owned if the price tag did not matter?
Well, I’m undecided… and a nostalgic too. I really like expressionism and Van Gogh! To stay within the scope of “abstractionism”, I would not mind having a piece by Pollock in my office!

What do you enjoy the most: The hunt associated with collecting art or the joy of ownership?
Both! I believe the joy of owning is the success of a good artistic research, in each of us there is a desire to own!

What is the collecting scene like in Naples?
My city is very strong in terms of art; it is and has been an international landscape of art for centuries. Poets, artists, and sculptors have chosen Naples as an icon of art. We have the world’s most beautiful metro. It is award winning for turning every station into a contemporary art museum. Art in Naples is world famous through the work of belligerent international galleries and the programming of museums such as the ‘MADRE’, who can give visibility to international artists without neglecting the ‘nostrils’. I also think about Thomas Dane, who has chosen Naples as a location for the opening of a new gallery in a home of great historical importance, where the philosopher Benedetto Croce used to live. Collecting remains dynamic, it is something ‘adult’ I would say, but there are fortunately many young people interested in art.

How has digitalization played into your collecting?
Digitization is an indispensable search aid; sitting at your office and simultaneously being in various parts of the world and following artists, exhibitions, and museums.

Nick Theobald
Nick Theobald
Vincenzo Rusciano
Vincenzo Rusciano

What or who has influenced you as a collector?
There is one person in particular, an artist and a sympathetic extroverted preacher, who graduated as a sculptor at Naples art school, and the very same person who reminds me of the diluent perfume. On a hot Sunday in July, this person suddenly ceased to live after a terrible road accident. This person was my brother Mimmo Domenico Rossetta, who I recall in every work, in every show that I participate in, in every work in my collection, and the smell keeps coming back to me every time.

What are the wishes for the future of your collection?
I would love to make a residence for artists, a project that is already in embryo in a beautiful Swedish setting.

Where do you think the future of the art market is headed?
The future is within us, in each of us, and more likely in Italy and Denmark than in America. However, I disagree with the speculation of the ‘new rich’. Art is something you buy with the heart first and then with the money. Art is crucial, I believe. It is indispensable culture and the key to success for a country.

Annie Lapin
Annie Lapin

Top three pieces of advice for new collectors
1. Trust serious gallerists
2. Visit museums
3. Do not buy to invest but to collect

Top three art destinations
1. Naples, of course!
2. Paris
3. New York

Three inspiring artists to watch
1. Hank Willis Thomas
2. Håvard Homstvedt
3. Vincenzo Rusciano

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