Anna Dello Russo on Mixing Histories, Styles & Stories

Anna Dello Russo on Mixing Histories, Styles & Stories

As the latest cultural figure to take the helm of Contemporary Curated in Milan, Anna Dello Russo explains her route from art to fashion, the artists she admires and the importance of tapping in to the ever-shifting digital realm.
As the latest cultural figure to take the helm of Contemporary Curated in Milan, Anna Dello Russo explains her route from art to fashion, the artists she admires and the importance of tapping in to the ever-shifting digital realm.

You studied History of Arts at University. Did you specialise in a particular artistic period or movement?

I graduated in Literature from the University of Bari. We could choose Modern and Contemporary History of Arts as a specialism so I had the chance to study history of arts and visual arts, which was my passion.

Were you particularly interested in or drawn to any specific artistic movement?

What really amazed me in my university curricula was Giotto. I was really enchanted by that period of time because Giotto is such an essential artist, so incisive and he led to the transition from a certain Middle Age into Renaissance. To me, Giotto was like a door opening into the golden centuries of Renaissance. Sixteenth-century Italian Art is my favourite. I am very passionate about fashion and visual arts, and the Renaissance period was an opening up to beauty, a celebration of visual arts, ranging from sculpture to painting and architecture. It gave rise to a movement of beauty to which I couldn’t remain indifferent. There is nothing better than a visit to the Sistine Chapel which I visited several times at university. Michelangelo’s Fall and Expulsion from Garden of Eden is incredible to witness up close.

Anna Dello Russo in Colville.

And what first inspired your passion for the Arts?

It was simply a need I had; an obsession and passion for fashion, and for anything that would detach me from reality. Since I was a child, the real world was too sad and too harsh for me. I developed a passion for a visionary, different interpretation of reality – a higher and inspirational reading of reality. I have constantly searched for beauty in all of its forms, for exaltation and sublimation.

You are very well-known for your eccentric and extravagant outfits. Is your taste for the arts and design as fanciful?

Yes. The vision I have inside of me permeates all aspects of my life, everything that becomes visible from the outside. My attention to aesthetics and detail has always been crucial to me, and the constant research that comes with it permeates all aspects of my life, from house decoration to cutlery and every detail in my house. Everything revolves around a precise sense of aesthetics. Because I am originally from the South of Italy, I carry with me the typical eccentricity of Southern culture. I enjoy playing with extravagance. I still remember how the drapery was painted in the works of arts in Venice. Titian has influenced my use of the colours, and a certain way of combining pieces of clothing, and that feeds into my aesthetic. My house is exactly how you would expect; it is eccentric, it has a strong baroque style and a vivid use of colours. I am definitely not a minimalist!

Anna Dello Russo in Colville.

Do you have a favourite museum or art gallery?

Who doesn’t? Clearly, for us the “Galleria degli Uffizi” and just about everything in Florence represents an outstanding heritage. I could say that any museum in the world has been of great source of inspiration to me. But because I think it is important to celebrate Italy, after this period of pandemic, Italy needs to be supported, so I would choose the Galleria degli Uffizi, a real temple of beauty where you can stroll around inspirational works of arts. I am also very interested in open-air museums because in Italy, just to give you an example, the “Giardino di Bomarzo” (Garden of Bomarzo), near Viterbo, which is also called the “Giardino dei Mostri” (Garden of Monsters) has always been an important source of inspiration to me.

Damien Hirst, Water H6-9 (from The Elements series). Estimate €10,000-15,000.

You take inspiration from many different sources, from Classical Arts to Street Art. How has that evolution taken place?

I see those genres as a group of sisters who positively contaminate one another, and create a new language in the collective mind that we all tap into. Imagine yourself strolling through a Roman forum today – just to celebrate Italy – it can be at once a historical celebration of Italy, and simultaneously a contemporary fashion-forward moment. And when thinking about new generations with Street Art, everything is mutual and usable, and then reinterpreted by these young artists. For me, the first 'street' artist was Andy Warhol. He was the first artist to transform a portrait, a simple portrait, that could be done by photographer, in to a work of art. In that moment, art reached the public. Not just the scholars, not just the sacred art of Emperors and Royals, but it was spread to the ordinary people, and was created in a way that could be reproduced.

Matt Mullican, Untitled (World). Estimate €6,000-8,000.

You were one of first to strongly believe and invest in an online digital channel. How do you think that the digital world is changing the way of living the arts?

I am very interested in the reach the Digital Art, so the current phenomenon of NFTs is very interesting. The digital era we live in is an incredible era. It has changed everything and the pandemic has accelerated such change, because digital technologies have allowed us to continue our life and have become an even stronger reality. We have managed to live through these times thanks to the digital tools and technology available to us. Investment in the digital art, alongside investments in cryptocurrency is commonly spoken about by young people. And as I am very curious about what young people do. I think that we have already entered a new era. We are moving towards the future when it will be normal to buy virtual works of art that can be projected on the wall of our house. This is the future we are moving towards and I am very excited by it.

Colville Calling all Knitters blanket project. Photogrpahed by Jackie Nickerson.

You’re prolific on social media, Instagram in particular, with 2 million followers. What do you love about it?

2 million followers is nothing! If you consider that some people have 250 million of followers, such as Cristiano Ronaldo, The Kardashians, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, then you understand that it is nothing compared to them. I am putting lot of effort into the digital realm because in my view, this channel is changing our language and the way we live. Thus, we need to experiment with it. But I don’t feel a main character of the digital era at all… Those other people, they are the emperors of the digital era.
It’s about listening to what others are saying or wearing. I will always be there in the digital arena, to feel the pulse and the mood.

Fashion has survived the pandemic thanks to the digital consumption, in a world that had been put in lockdown. The Calling all Knitters project initiated by Colville has shown this. Bringing people together over social media to create something tangible, and beautiful. It is clear that we have entered a new era. Imagine what this could mean for the Arts. If we think of the digital museums in Tokyo, they are among the most visited museums in the world. And kids go there to play, as the museum acquires a completely different dimension.

KAWS, No Future Companion - Hajime Sorayama Version (Silver Chrome). Estimate €8,000-12,000.

Which artists or designers are you currently excited about?

In terms of Contemporary art, someone who has always intrigued me is Jeff Koons. He talks the language of “Pop”, something I have always been very fond of. The forms and colours he uses are very similar to candies, bijoux, playful items that immediately project me into a ludic world. I’m also drawn to KAWS. He is a complete crossover of Street Art, design, collaboration with fashion, and the physical arts. He puts everything in a big melting-pot which is very vivid and alive. To me, he also represents the evolution of an artist who is very attached to reality, and who is ready to get his hands dirty.

Contemporary Art

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