LONDON – Italian collector Alessandro Grassi was renowned for his curatorial eye that was as far reaching in scope as it was discerning. His passion and broad appreciation for developments in contemporary art precipitated a collection that has boasted landmark pieces from an impressive roster of major artistic movements from the second half of the twentieth century, including Transavanguardia, Arte Povera and Pop art. Amassed over the course of three decades, a selection of this extraordinary compendium of contemporary art will be offered for public sale for the first time across the Contemporary Art Evening and Contemporary Art Day auctions, as well as the Italian sale this October in London.
Italian art formed the nucleus of Grassi's collection. Punctuated by masterpieces such as Alighiero Boetti's billboard-like work, Tavole Pitagoriche, the collection reflects the avant-garde artistic development in Italy during the 1960s, '70s and '80s. In particular, Grassi focused on Transavanguardia, a phrase meaning literally "beyond the avant-garde." This term was coined by eminent scholar Achille Bonito Oliva, who knew Grassi's collection intimately. Including outstanding works by some of the greatest adherents of Transavanguardia, such as Sandro Chia and Jean-Michel Basquiat, the collection reflects the joyous energy and vitality redolent of these extraordinary works.
Forming close relationships with individual artists and acquiring works predominantly through inaugural gallery exhibitions, Alessandro Grassi created a collection that is not only rich and insightful, but also deeply personal. His ardour and impeccable taste are highlighted in every work he acquired; an exquisite interplay of simplicity and complexity, this remarkable corpus forms a complete and fascinating portrait of an iconic Italian collector.
Antonia Gardner is a specialist in the Contemporary Art department at Sotheby's London.