Valeria Napoleone’s Women-Focused Collection on View for the First Time

Napoleone has a "natural inclination and appetite" towards the works of women she collects.

Valeria Napoleone.

Leading contemporary collector of work by female artists, Valeria Napoleone, is putting artworks from her private collection on view at Museum Sheffield’s Graves Gallery. The exhibition, which opens on July 15, will be the latest installment of a larger on-going project by Museum Sheffield to exhibit works from European private collections. (Last year’s iteration focused on the collection of Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo).

Napoleone’s focus as a collector has always been to elevate the status of women artists, who are unfortunately often underrepresented in the art world’s institutions. One of her biggest projects is the founding of the initiative Valeria Napoleone XX, which works to increase the number of commissions for work by women artists, as well as the number of works by women artists in public collections.

“Since the very first work I bought I knew I was going to build a collection focused on women artists,” she told artnet News in an email. “My decision was not a strategy, it was a natural inclination and appetite for what I believed were great practices.”
Margherita Manzelli, Nebros, 1998 courtesy of Valeria Napoleone.

Margherita Manzelli, Nebros, (1998). Courtesy of Valeria Napoleone.

Speaking about some of the women artists working in the 1990’s whose work she felt a special proclivity towards, Napoleone perplexedly comments, “I could not understand why these relevant practices were not acknowledged and celebrated.”

Napoleone’s contributions to the “Going Public” exhibition mark the first time that part of her collection will be accessible to the public, displaying works from influential women artists such as Monica Bonvicini, Tomma Abts, Ida Ekbald, Mai-Thu Perret, and Joanne Geenmbaum.

“I chose Monica Bonvicini’s Hausfrau Swinging [for this exhibition] because it is a work that reflects deeply my commitment to contemporary art and the practice of women artists,” she told artnet New. “It is a seminal piece by Monica and touches issues of gender at its very core. Dogmas that dictates our social interactions and behavior.”
Joanne Greenbaum, Fat Yellow, 2004 courtesy of Valeria Napoleone.

Joanne Greenbaum, Fat Yellow, (2004). Courtesy of Valeria Napoleone.

Napoleone looks at the exhibition’s role as a catalyst for change, not just within the issue of raising recognition for women artists, but also within the field of funding. “Going Public” has been an on-going project at Museum Sheffield that focuses on collaborations between private philanthropy and public institutions.

And while this encouragement for collaboration continues to bring about positive outcomes, collectors, experts, and museum directors agree that philanthropy should not be a substitute for lack of government funding, as stated in the Going Public Report, issued by Museums Sheffield following a summit held 2015.

Mai-Thu Perret with Ligia Dias, La Fée électricité, 2005 courtesy of Valeria

Mai-Thu Perret with Ligia Dias, La Fée électricité, 2005 courtesy of Valeria Napoleone.

“Going Public—The Napoleone Collection” will be on view at Museum Sheffield’s Graves Gallery from July 15 – October 1, 2016.

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