Miguel Quismondo, the Architect Behind Magazzino Italian Art, Prizes His Wind-Up Watch and His Patience—But Doesn’t Believe in Waiting for a Table
We asked the Spanish architect about the things he values most—in art and in life.
So much of the art world orbits around questions of value, not only in term of appraisals and price tags, but also: What is worthy of your time in These Times, as well as your energy, your attention, and yes, your hard-earned cash?
What is the math that you do to determine something’s meaning and worth? What moves you? What enriches your life? In this new series, we’re asking individuals from the art world and beyond about the valuations that they make at a personal level.
Spanish architect Miguel Quismondo is a patient precisionist. Those tandem virtues come to the fore at Magazzino Italian Art, a 20,000-square-foot museum designed by the architect, and nestled in New York’s Hudson Valley.
Co-founded by collectors Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu as a space to showcase a premier collection of Arte Povera, Magazzino, which means “warehouse” in Italian, has become a local New York arts pilgrimage since it opened in 2017. Visitors are often as wowed by the unparalleled collection of postwar Italian art as they are by the building and surrounding grounds. Quismondo, who has worked in collaboration with Olnick-Spanu since 2003, embraced the values of Arte Povera in his designs, repurposing the property’s available materials, including an existing warehouse, erected in 1964. Similarly, the expansion utilized straightforward materials—mainly concrete and glass—to simple but striking effect.
Quismondo’s work with Magazzino hasn’t stopped since, and the museum’s footprint is about to get a bit more significant. This September, the museum will unveil a long-anticipated second building, the Robert Olnick Pavilion. This expansion is the first collaboration between Quismondo and famed Spanish architect Alberto Campo Baeza, who was Quismondo’s professor. This new building will offer an additional 13,000 square feet of exhibition space for the museum, allowing for temporary exhibitions, as well as a multipurpose room with auditorium capabilities, a cafe and bookshop, and galleries devoted to decorative arts, ceramics, and jewelry. Next month, Magazzino will host the official Upstate Art Weekend kickoff party (July 21–24), where visitors may be able to glimpse the expansion getting its finishing touches.
When Quismondo takes a rare moment for himself, he can be found jetting back to Barcelona, catching up on his family group chat, or even sketching his own dream abode upstate. What he won’t be doing? Waiting for a table at a restaurant.
Ahead of the jam-packed summer ahead, we spoke with Quismondo about what he values in art and life—and why.
What is the last thing that you splurged on?
A plane ticket to BCN.
What is something that you’re saving up for?
I’m hoping to be able to design and build a country house for myself one day.
What would you buy if you found $100?
Lunch for my team.
What makes you feel like a million bucks?
A haircut and trim from my favorite barbershop.
What do you think is your greatest asset?
What do you most value in a work of art?
I like to find elements that relate to my architectural work: clean shapes, recognizable geometries, balanced proportions, and a serene color palette
Who is an emerging artist worthy of everyone’s attention?
Valentina Ornaghi and Claudio Prestinari. They’re a Milanese couple with a background in industrial design and architecture who began working together in 2009. I met them at their first show in New York back in 2016. Their work has a strong conceptual approach and attention to materials and their manipulation. I’m currently collaborating with them on a large, site-specific project in the Bush terminal in Brooklyn, sponsored by the city of New York’s “Percent for Art” program.
Who is an overlooked artist who hasn’t yet gotten their due?
Photographer extraordinaire Marco Anelli. He published Building Magazzino, which tells the story of the construction of the museum under his very personal eye. He’s now documenting the construction of the new Robert Olnick Pavilion with a wilder lens, creating an incredible body of work that I hope to see exhibited in the near future.
What, in your estimation, is the most overrated thing in the art world?
What is your most treasured possession?
An old mechanical winding watch that I bought when I first started working.
What’s been your best investment?
My team of collaborators. I couldn’t do anything without them.
What is something small that means the world to you?
My family group chat.
What’s not worth the hype?
Waiting to eat at a restaurant in NYC…There’s always somewhere else with an open table and good food!
What do you believe is a worthy cause?
What do you aspire to?
To feel blissful.
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