Old Master Paintings

Renowned Art Dealer Fabrizio Moretti and The Strokes' Fab Moretti Collaborate

New York
Artist and musician Fabrizio (Fab) Moretti of The Strokes and famed Old Masters dealer and collector Fabrizio Moretti have collaborated on a unique exhibition and auction featuring more than 20 Old Master Paintings and Sculpture showcased in dynamic and immersive installations designed specially by Fab Moretti. The must-see exhibition will be on view in New York from 15–18 December in advance of the auction on 18 December.

S otheby's is pleased to announce Fabrizio Moretti x Fabrizio Moretti | In Passing, a special, one-time-only exhibition and auction of Old Master paintings and sculpture bringing together musician and visual artist Fabrizio (Fab) Moretti, of the critically acclaimed and internationally Platinum-certified band The Strokes, and renowned art dealer and collector Fabrizio Moretti, who specializes in Old Masters and is proprietor of the London-based Galleria Moretti.

The unique collaboration will be an exhibition of 24 lots of Old Master paintings and sculpture selected by Fabrizio Moretti, which will be showcased in a series of immersive and interactive installations designed and fabricated by Fab Moretti, each playing on the concept of perspective and based on corresponding themes represented in the works.

"I selected works that reflected the breadth of this category – there are religious, allegorical and secular themes, works by known painters and anonymous hands. What I want to show is that there is not one way to understand Old Masters. What matters, in the end, is the quality and the subject matter of these pieces and these two characteristics determine if a work of art is timeless."
Fabrizio Moretti (The Art Dealer)

The exhibit will be on view at Sotheby's New York 15–18 December, ahead of the live auction on 18 December. Online bidding for the auction opens 22 November, and all works in the auction will be sold without reserve.

This collaboration is part of an ongoing initiative spearheaded by Sotheby's Old Masters department to introduce new audiences to masterworks of the pre-Modern era. Earlier this year, Sotheby's hosted The Female Triumphant, a groundbreaking sale of paintings by female Old Master artists in partnership with Victoria Beckham. Previous initiatives also included Naturalia, an exhibition of Old Masters and Contemporary art at Kasmin Gallery; curated interiors featuring Old Master Paintings by contemporary designers; and a film by James Franco inspired by Renaissance sculptures by the della Robbia family.

Charity beneficiaries for the sale were personally selected by Fab and Fabrizio: the International Rescue Committee, a not-for-profit organization that responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 26 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities; and The Fabrizio Moretti Foundation, a non-profit organization located in Prato, Italy, which works to give those with certain disabilities access to the therapeutic benefits of horses.*


Fabrizio Moretti x Fabrizio Moretti | In Passing


Fabrizio Moretti, Old Masters dealer and art collector

The concept of In Passing reflects the unique circumstance of Fab and Fabrizio not only sharing the same name, but the chance opportunity of their partnership with Sotheby's. Although Fab and Fabrizio come from very different backgrounds, they have each devoted their lives to creative endeavors, but in different ways. While Fab studied sculpture in college, he put his fine art ambitions on hold to pursue his musical career with The Strokes; Fabrizio is among the most respected dealers and gallerists of his generation, and recently made international headlines for acquiring a newly discovered Cimabue painting. It was not until the two were brought together through a mutual connection at Sotheby's that they realized they each shared a love of art, and Old Masters in particular. The opportunity to collaborate on this special exhibition and auction provided Fab and Fabrizio a unique venue to showcase their respective expertise and unite them in a way that goes far beyond their shared name.

For the exhibition, Fab will design and create a series of immersive installations throughout the exhibition, each reflecting and playing on various themes he identified as being represented in the Old Master works on display, including life, religion, purgatory, death, repentance and commerce. Utilizing light and space in dynamic and dramatic ways, the installations seek to explore new perspectives on the individual artworks, as well as address the traditional and often depersonalized ways the public experiences art.

"Fab’s design of the exhibition invites a discovery of details, which is at the core of appreciating these works of art. Through Fab’s creative direction, we can really understand the mastery and expertise of the artists as well as the themes they wanted to convey. Fab’s homage to the original context of these paintings shows his respect and understanding of the history of these works; his re-contextualization beautifully translates their relevance for today."
Fabrizio Moretti (The Art Dealer)

As perspective was so critical in compositions of the Old Masters, Fab’s maze-like construction of installations with sharp-angled walls, narrow hallways, and hidden viewing rooms-continues their interest in playing with perspective, but with an interactive spin that brings the works into the present. Inspired by the devotional context of many of the Old Master works featured in the exhibition, Fab's installations encourage viewers to embrace a slower approach to their viewing, spending time in the installations individually to create a personal connection between the viewer and the work.

Fabrizio Moretti, Visual Artist and Musician

For Fab, the aim of the exhibition design and installations is to alter the viewer's perspective of these works, and recontextualize them in a more contemporary and relevant framework while respecting their subject matter. By mounting the works in interactive and engaging installations, Fab is asking the audience to view the works in a new way and reconsider them from a contemporary mindset.

For instance, one installation will invite gallery-goers to walk down a narrow hallway lit by yellow neon lights. As the patrons walk further down the hallway, their eyes become accustomed to the artificial lighting. Finally when they turn a corner, the paintings are furnished with natural light, causing their colors to seem increasingly vibrant, refreshing the viewer’s vision to look upon the works with a newfound appreciation of their color and composition.

Another installation will position paintings close to the ground, inviting viewers to kneel before the paintings to see them fully. The concept of the installation was inspired by the paintings' religious imagery and devotional context, requiring a penitent pose for viewers to fully appreciate the work and its intended meaning.

Not only does the title of the exhibition refer to the serendipitous relationship of Fab and Fabrizio, but it also references the very long lives of Old Master works of art. Across centuries, these works have passed from one steward to another, and their meaning and significance has also changed over time as the context in which they are viewed evolves. In Passing draws on the past for inspiration, but also looks to the future to present works by Old Masters in a new and exciting light.

*Through a generous donation by art dealer Fabrizio Moretti, Mr. Moretti will donate 5% of net sale proceeds (hammer price minus sale related expenses not to exceed $10,000 in the aggregate) to the IRC and 5% of net sale proceeds to the Fabrizio Moretti Foundation of each item purchased by a buyer at the Fabrizio Moretti x Fabrizio Moretti | In Passing sale at Sotheby’s on December 18, 2019. The IRC is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing humanitarian aid, relief and resettlement to refugees and other victims of oppression or violent conflict. The Fabrizio Moretti Foundation works to give those with certain disabilities access to the therapeutic benefits of horses. For more information, visit www.rescue.org and WWW.FONDAZIONEFABRIZIOMORETTI.ORG. No portion of the purchase price is tax-deductible.

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