#ListeAsks Valeria Napoleone, Collector and Patron, London

Valeria Napoleone, Collector and Patron, London. From the left: Tomma Abts, series of drawings, pen, pencil, watercolours on paper, 2003-2004, 29.7 x 21 cm each.   Anne Imhof, Ocean IX, 2015, Etching on aluminum, lacquer, 215 x 150 cm. Andrea Buttner, series of paintings on Hinterglaserai (Behind Glass Painting), 2010, 18 x 18cm; 27 x 33 cm, 30 x 20 cm, 18 x 18cm, Credit: Getty Images
Valeria Napoleone, Collector and Patron, London. From the left: Tomma Abts, series of drawings, pen, pencil, watercolours on paper, 2003-2004, 29.7 x 21 cm each. Anne Imhof, Ocean IX, 2015, Etching on aluminum, lacquer, 215 x 150 cm. Andrea Buttner, series of paintings on Hinterglaserai (Behind Glass Painting), 2010, 18 x 18cm; 27 x 33 cm, 30 x 20 cm, 18 x 18cm, Credit: Getty Images

As you won’t be in Basel this June, what are you doing instead?
I’m enjoying working at home on a few projects remotely and dedicating more time to listening, researching and discovering.

What is something that you never thought would happen but that has now happened as a result of the lockdown?
Actually enjoying connecting via online platforms. Doing gym exercises with apps. Doing studio visits through Zoom. But I deeply miss the gallery space, seeing shows and my art community.

In what ways has the current state of uncertainty and unpredictability changed your attitude towards collecting?
Everyone has had to face how fragile and vulnerable our world is—the entire art ecosystem, from commercial galleries and museums to not-for-profit organisations and artists. In this time I realised how my work, as a collector and a patron, does have a real and deep impact on the health of the art ecosystem, and how this support is now more meaningful and relevant than ever.

What is one of the most inspiring initiatives or projects by an artist, institution or gallery you’ve came across since the outbreak of Covid-19?

The most inspiring thing has been the artists’ generosity, how ready they are to act and give in support of institutions and organisations, and society at large. It’s also inspiring to see how contemporary art so directly reflects contemporary life—its zeitgeist.

How can younger and less established galleries that are representing emerging and yet-to-be-discovered artists approach you as collector in a time of online-only exhibitions, fairs, etc.?
I have been loving studio visits, specifically private ones organised by friends, gallerists and curators. I have been treated to a few and I have deeply enjoyed these remote but intimate encounters with the artists in their studios with nobody else around. 

Have you discovered any new artist during the lockdown?
Yes, a few. I discovered them through people I trust, curators and gallerists, reading materials I am sent, research and remote private studio visits. 

Can you tell us about the very first artwork you purchased at Liste and what it means to you?
This is not the first one, but certainly the one I remember most vividly: In the summer of 2015, I saw Anne Imhof’s solo presentation by my dear friend Deborah Schamoni at Liste. I spent a few hours with her discussing Anne’s work and then even met Anne in person—she was around. It was a treat. It is always special to arrive at an artist’s practice before everyone else, when nobody else is looking yet. This is why I have enjoyed coming to Liste over the years; I always feel there is so much I can discover, and I really do. 

From the left: Rivane Neuenschwander, Untitled, 1999, Aluminium bowl, Paraffin, Dust, Black pepper, 40.46 x 10.1 cm. Anne Imhof, Ocean IX, 2015, Etching on aluminum, lacquer, 215 x 150 cm. Sharon Hayes, An Ear to the Sounds of Our History (Road to the White House), 2012, 63 x 252   cm. Francis Upritchard, Warm Table, 2011, Wooden table, Wool Ryg, Ceramic, Leather, Fur, Braid, Football, 72 x 71 x 122.5 cm. On the couch: Julie Verhoeven, Comfort Blanket, 2015, Credit: Mariona Otero
From the left: Rivane Neuenschwander, Untitled, 1999, Aluminium bowl, Paraffin, Dust, Black pepper, 40.46 x 10.1 cm. Anne Imhof, Ocean IX, 2015, Etching on aluminum, lacquer, 215 x 150 cm. Sharon Hayes, An Ear to the Sounds of Our History (Road to the White House), 2012, 63 x 252 cm. Francis Upritchard, Warm Table, 2011, Wooden table, Wool Ryg, Ceramic, Leather, Fur, Braid, Football, 72 x 71 x 122.5 cm. On the couch: Julie Verhoeven, Comfort Blanket, 2015, Credit: Mariona Otero