In Conversation with Collector Enea Righi

In Conversation with Collector Enea Righi

Senior specialist Carolina Lanfranchi joins Enea Righi in conversation about his vision, Alighiero Boetti, and the life cycle of a collection.

Senior specialist Carolina Lanfranchi joins Enea Righi in conversation about his vision, Alighiero Boetti, and the life cycle of a collection.

CAROLINA LANFRANCHI: Enea, thank you for being here with us. Let's start with the first question, can I ask you when and how did you start collecting?

ENEA RIGHI: I started collecting about 35 years ago by chance; I began to develop the idea of ​​collecting art, at the beginning, paintings. The first painting was a Schifano which I acquired from Emilio Mazzoli, mainly for the color which was interesting. Then slowly over the years, the collection has taken on a well-defined body of work, which has obviously changed over time but has passed from painting to photography, to sculpture, to large installations, including museum-type installations and therefore after 35 years we have made a very important journey.


CL: Then you moved away from paintings as we’ve already discussed?

ER: Yes! In truth I moved away from paintings a bit, even if lately I’ve been looking with a certain interest at the new painting, the new figuration, but in short, it’s not the main objective of the collection.

I love photography very much, I love sculpture very much, I love installations very much, therefore, let's say that by changing the collection from painting to more conceptual minimal art, obviously the type of manufacturing technique of the works is different.

So we went back to this type of collection, which then later ranged a bit on political art, on Eastern art which interested me very much for a while, on identity and on female art. We have always thought of setting up bodies of work. In fact, the most interesting thing is to set up bodies of work by artists who in my opinion have also grown with me.

All this art, this 90s current which in my opinion was a very interesting art and still continues to be a very interesting art.


CL: One thing I noticed both looking at the collection as a whole, and looking at the core collection that we will present in our auction, can Alighiero Boetti be an artist who represents the common ground that recalls the entire collection?

ER: Alighiero Boetti is the true link between modern and contemporary, he’s an artist that I adored and adore so much. I can say that you convinced me to put some of Boetti’s work up for auction. For me it's like mutilating myself and chopping off a few pieces of my body. There are many pieces left in the collection besides those that are up for auction. But for me he’s the real artist, he’s the artist who represented the real turning point of the collection.


CL: In fact, we can say that works that we present in our auction are an Enea Righi mini collection.

ER: Please consider that the collection today is a collection that includes about a thousand works, a few hundred are in the museums as a long term loans, because there has always been this desire to help museums in Italy, they suffer very badly, they’ve always been in a crisis, not only now due to the lockdown or Covid.

Unfortunately, I have a house where...I don't really like having houses full of art pieces. The works must breathe so they must find their own setting in the house: every now and then they are changed, this is a new space that we have created now. This is the first piece that is installed, this beautiful Spalletti.

But the works must breathe, they should have their own setting and communicate with each other and therefore the museum is a good escape route to be able to lend these works, just to sum it up.


CL: Why are you selling, why in an auction, and why Philips?

ER: The name of the auction, “Out of the Blue” has precisely this meaning, namely that beyond the literal translation, outside the blue color, which already means being outside an aesthetic dimension in some respects, it’s precisely the idea of ​​improvisation, of the improvisation of choice. It was like that; it was a sudden choice and so we did it because we said: well, now there are very important works in this auction of the collection, very important, which I was very fond of.

Not only Boetti but I also remember Malcolm Morley’s piece which is an extraordinary, exceptional work, Ian Wallace, Glenn Ligon ... they are all truly beautiful works. But in reality we said to ourselves: The collection has to continue, needs to continue and progress and therefore the money that is collected from the auction will be invested completely in the collection, which will have an increasingly contemporary focus and consequently this is the real nature of the auction.

Then the collector's real problem is, what will become of the collection? Because in reality even in the last exhibition we did, which Lorenzo Paini and Rick Mezil did at Palazzo Fortuny in Venice, had a significant name which is translated from French “when the snow melts what will remain of the white?” translated it means: when you are at the end of your life what will remain of you or of the collection? When you no longer exist what will become of the collection? This is the great theme of the great collections.

So why Philips? Philips seemed to me very smart, very fast, very interesting, I need to give credit to Carolina who was very good from this point of view and above all I like the more contemporary approach that Philips has compared to its competitors and therefore the choice was that, it was not an economic choice but it was a choice of affinity.


CL: As a matter of fact we too wanted to keep the collecting aspect, respecting the collector, we chose this approach that is a single owner sale. Therefore an auction dedicated entirely to the collection, respecting and also in wanting to give something to the community as you did in your collection. Let's say a vision that is not purely commercial but also aesthetic and sharing certain ideals and canons of collecting. It seemed like a very important thing to do especially in the current times.

ER: Thank you, I really appreciated that! Really a lot. The collection is known for being very unconventional that is, it is not a collection that follows the trends of the period, it’s very focused on important themes, also intellectually important, conceptually important, and outside the classic schemes of collecting.

I’ve always bought artists I liked who for me were a physical, psychological need, a real and personal need to own that type of works which, however, were not very often sought after by the market.

Earlier you were talking about Boetti, I bought Boetti when nobody wanted him and therefore Boetti's work was a flash of inspiration for us, but at the same time, in that period, I remember perfectly well that no one was really considering Boetti that much. So it was an important and interesting acceleration and this is also our strategy and my way of collecting in short.


CL: Will there be one piece that you will miss more than the others?

ER: Yes, by Boetti [laughs]…all of them!

There are really important works by Boetti in the auction, I call it the Cross. However it’s a piece, I believe Boetti's first tapestry work with this motif of the cross which is in fact photographed full page in the catalogue raisonné of Boetti. The piece which I call "Film camera" but in any case it is a work from 1965 I think, which is a truly extraordinary and very interesting historical piece, the so-called faccine (small faces), which is his first work with this theme, in addition to those works from the following years that were made in a serial way, but it is Boetti's first true work about the small faces.


CL: Surely you'll be able to buy something you'll like the same way?

ER: I’ve already started to see a series of works by very young English, American, and also French artists: we have already identified a series of extremely interesting artists, extremely close to our taste. So Boetti will be replaced by other young artists who in my opinion will have Boetti's future.


CL: Thank you so much Enea!

ER: Thank you Carolina and thank you Phillips for the opportunity that was given to me.



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