artnet Asks: Eugenio Re Rebaudengo
The art world scion is trying to reshape patronage.
At 27 years old, Eugenio Re Rebaudengo is well below the average age of most patrons of note. But the Turin-born, London-based collector and entrepreneur is hard at work, using his digital-native knowhow and deep roots in the art world—his mother is major collector Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, listed on artnet New’s “100 Most Powerful Women in Art”—to help a new generation of artists catch their footing on the international stage.
Artuner, his online startup, is only slightly more than a year old, but has already gained significant repute online and has more recently moved offline as well, curating a series of pop-up exhibitions around the global art circuit, most recently “Bunkering in Paradise/ The Rest of Us Just Live in It” in Turin, which was held during last month’s Artissima. artnet News caught up with Rebaudengo in his hometown to find out more.
What was the impetus for creating Artuner?
The idea is to create a new model. It’s trying to acknowledge what is going on in the art world, what’s changing. It’s trying to create something that brings value to all the different players involved in the process: artists, collectors, gallerists, and so on. It started as a masters project, really, as my dissertation. But then I said, “Okay, let’s make this become real.” We invited some curators to create online shows and aimed to point out some of the artists we believe are currently relevant for discussion among our friends and fellow collectors.
Now you’ve also moved to doing shows offline as well. Why the move away from digital?
I think it’s very important to stay very fresh and very open, to continue to adapt. One thing we wanted to acknowledge is that people are traveling a lot; we wanted to give an international crowd the possibility to meet new, young artists when they are traveling to different cities for art fairs. So we’ve started to create shows like “Bunkering in Paradise.” It’s important for the artists to have this moment, where they can really be shown in special places and where they can display their work in an ambitious way. Sebastian Lloyd Rees and Max Ruf never had the opportunity to work on such a large scale before this show. In March, we’ll do an exhibition at [Galerie] Max Hetzler, first in Berlin and then in Paris the week after, which will mix more established artists with some younger ones.
How does Artuner relate or intertwine with your own collecting and that of your family?
I think for a collector the best activity and the most rewarding moment is when you help an artist that you believe in, and when you see then that he is going to be appreciated by a wider international audience as well. This is what my mom has tried to accomplish [with the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo], and I’ve always been involved with that mission. And so with Artuner, we want to focus on supporting and presenting a selected group of artists from all over the world, putting them at the center of our attention. We try not to focus on specific geographies, but where we see potential.
What’s the most essential tool or practice you engage in, to find new artists that you either want to support with Artuner or want to collect?
It’s mostly traveling. I try to go to artists’ studios as much as possible so I can meet them and spend time talking to them, seeing their practice and trying to understand more of what is going on. I’m relatively young. I just turned 27. But I’ve had the privilege of seeing a lot of contemporary art in the last 25 years, living basically full time in the art world. I’ve developed an eye and am able to process immediately what is interesting and what is not, what’s a bit deeper and maybe what’s a bit less deep. So, of course, before going to a studio there is a first level of screening at fairs, galleries, and a lot online. But then, before endorsing them on Artuner or collecting them, I need to feel connected with the artist and their practice. I think a collection has to be driven by passion but also by a deep relation with the works you collect. Working off something like a checklist of artists to buy, I think, is the wrong attitude.
Many of the foundation’s newest acquisitions, featured in its recent “Beware Wet Paint” show, are works by artists who have gotten caught up in the debate around market speculation. How would you respond to those who have discounted these young artists as “flippable”?
A lot of people talk without doing enough homework. Both extreme reactions aren’t good: people who are just buying with advisers, buying because a certain name is good and people who are reacting in the totally opposite way and saying that just because an artist has success in the market, this necessarily means that they are bad because they are speculative. In reality, what’s important in art as in every other field is to note the superficial but not stop at that first level, to try to really open your eyes and switch on your brain and relate. Not everyone who’s speaking about art is just speaking about the market. It’s one part of it, but it’s not all of it. It should be about the artists. Some who are having success in the market are probably going to disappear. But others are there because they deserve it. They’re looking at the world with fresh eyes and creating interesting things. In the end, those artists are going to stay and create a legacy.
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