29 ARTS IN PROGRESS was founded in 2013 by Luca Casulli and Eugenio Calini, with an interest in representing artists specialising in photo-based art. Located in the heart of Milan, the gallery exhibits the work of internationally recognised photographers, including both contemporary and modern masters. Casulli and Calini also represent a group of younger emerging photographers, holding an open call each year to search for talented and as yet undiscovered artists.
In the five years since its inception, 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS has curated more than thirty exhibitions in partnership with international museums and organisations, such as The V&A Museum, The Hong Kong Arts Centre, The MAMM in Moscow, ERARTA Museum in St. Petersburg, Palazzo Reale and La Triennale Museum in Milan. We spoke to founders and directors Casulli and Calini, to find out more about their involvement in Photo London.
What excites you the most about exhibiting your artists at Photo London?
Exhibiting at Photo London is a great opportunity to reach a global audience of collectors. It’s also a great networking event where you can meet interesting people, from the most acclaimed artists to the best publishers.
We have always appreciated the international feel of London. It is one of the most important art capitals in the world, so we’re excited to bring some of our best international artists and emerging talents to London.
Which artists’ work will you be showing at Photo London? Why?
At Photo London, we will feature the work of American artist Greg Gorman and Italian artists Gian Paolo Barbieri and Giuseppe Mastromatteo. We have selected some rare vintage photographs, along with some Polaroids and contemporary works: we believe that the dialogue between past and present techniques and photographic styles is very important, not only to satisfy the most sophisticated collectors, but also to establish a long-term debate on future trends in art photography.
29 ARTS IN PROGRESS roots itself in cultural traditions, how does this influence your collection of photography?
We believe that culture – from literature to cinema, art history and social sciences – plays a key role in an artist’s career. The most culturally rooted artists are those able to reinvent themselves over time, without prejudice to the artist’s personal style.
We invest in photographers who are aware of the huge importance of culture in its broader meaning. For example, American noir cinema constitutes an important foundation for Gian Paolo Barbieri. Film gave Gian Paolo Barbieri a sense of movement, and his work carries Italian fashion from a footboard with a white backdrop, to the outdoors, lending it a different soul.
In your opinion, what are the key trends in photography collecting?
I think we are facing two major trends right now in photography collecting. On the one hand, there is an increasing demand for unique pieces coming from seasoned collectors of modern and contemporary art, from very rare vintage works to polaroids.
On the other hand, the vast majority of collectors and the public are hungry for new talent and fresh forms of art photography. This is part of why we hold an open call each year, called ‘Unpublished Photo’, which is a search for exceptionally talented photographers, from Italy and around the world. Selected photographers get the opportunity to participate in a group exhibition at our gallery in Milan.
How do you think the approach to new and vintage photography is different?
As mentioned before, the two approaches are very different in the sense of possession they rouse in the collector. When you buy a vintage photograph you know that you are buying both a piece of art and a portion of our history. From a collector’s standpoint, the difference lies in the lack of technical replicability.
At the same time, the most sophisticated photography collectors know that buying new photography is also very important, not only to sustain the work of emerging talents, but also to build the most original collections by combining contemporary cutting-edge style with vintage works.
What advice would you give to those starting their own photography collection?
There are different ways to start a photography collection. Some collectors begin with a well-defined area like fashion photography, and devote themselves to building up a collection with the most diversified subjects and themes within this macro-area. Others prefer to start with contemporary young artists they enjoy the most.
Our advice is to follow your own style. Always buy art from specialised galleries and dealers, and pay attention to the type of print and its edition number in order to make well-informed purchases.
Visit 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS in T6 – River Terrace at Photo London between 17-20 May