Sotheby’s is honored to present the sharply drawn world of the collector and designer, Santiago Barberi Gonzalez. The Colombian-born fashion magnate and art collector left behind a unique legacy that encapsulates his unbridled passion and distinct vision bridging the realms of fashion, fine art and design. The breadth of Santiago’s collection evokes a communicative power that mirrors his intensely creative life. It is Sotheby’s distinct privilege to offer such a special and highly personal group of works assembled and collected by Santiago himself, presented over the following pages.
Having devoted his life to the creation and cultivation of beautiful objects, it seems fitting that Santiago’s professional legacy at the global enterprise, Nancy Gonzalez, is left intact by the bags made of precious skin he so masterfully designed. Santiago’s American roots were established after leaving Cali, Colombia at the age of eleven for boarding school. After earning an undergraduate degree at Babson College in Boston, Santiago enrolled at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia for his master’s in Art History and fashion marketing. It was during his masters in which he conceptualized the Nancy Gonzalez business plan that won him and his mother an order of handbags from Bergdorf Goodman. Santiago’s impeccable taste unexpectedly inspired the addition of a Santiago Gonzalez collection for men after store executives noticed Santiago carrying a few one-of-a-kind pieces he had designed for himself.
Although the road to Santiago’s seamless emergence into the fashion world was paved with precious skins, his first year as an art collector was a self-professed disaster. Santiago bought indiscriminately until he read the autobiography of Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo, whose legendary collection of postwar American art is now divided between the Guggenheim New York and MOCA in Los Angeles. Santiago contacted Panza, who was so charmed by Santiago that he gave him two full days of mentoring. From this point onwards, every single purchase was significant and deliberate.
As indicated by the richly imaginative works offered in Neither Appearance Nor Illusion: Property from the Collection of Santiago Barberi Gonzalez, Santiago’s collecting philosophy developed so that only the most choice pieces found a home in his pied-a-terre on Fifth Avenue in New York. By focusing on the most exquisite and prime examples produced by living artists, Santiago acquired works that were not only in impeccable condition but also created atmosphere and held multiple meanings. Santiago’s fascination with language and the displacement of space and time is a thread connecting multiple works in the collection. Each of these masterworks is therefore a powerful meditation on time and space collapsing. Together, Santiago’s collection acts in conversation with one another. Santiago himself was delighted to draw these connections, especially in surprising places. Conceptual, cerebral works by On Kawara, Joseph Kosuth, Jenny Holzer and Roni Horn are paired with playful Campana Brothers furniture, Claude Lalanne objets and Maurizio Cattelan works in Santiago’s home. Meditations on the relationships between ideas and images are juxtaposed in Ed Ruscha’s Topic and Joseph Kosuth’s ‘Titled (A.A.I.A.I)’ [Meaning](Eng. Spa.), and explorations of form and function materialize in works by Larry Bell, John McCracken and chairs by Martino Gamper.
Neither Appearance Nor Illusion: Property from the Collection of Santiago Barberi Gonzalez will be sold in the 27 September Contemporary Curated Auction, lots 201-249 and 339-363, as well as the July 2018 Contemporary Living Sale, where additional Design works will be offered for sale. A portion of the proceeds of these two sales will go to benefit charitable institutions aligned with Santiago’s passions. It is with pleasure and gratitude that Sotheby’s is able present Santiago’s cabinet of curiosities to the world.
27 September | New York
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