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The Panza Collection

Dr. and Mrs. Panza in his study at the Villa Panza, Varese, Italy, May 24, 2008. Photograph by Alexandra Spaulding.

Giuseppe Panza di Biumo (1923–2010), an Italian real-estate investor, and his wife Giovanna, are among the most widely recognized and important art collectors of American and European art since the mid-twentieth century. Since the late 1950s, when they acquired important paintings by Mark Rothko and Yves Klein, the Panzas amassed a renowned collection of more than 2,500 works in all media that centers on a predominantly Minimalist aesthetic. Throughout his life, Panza ascribed to the firm belief that one collects artworks because of a love of beauty and a search for meaning and spiritual integrity. His notion of what beauty could be proved to be astute, as many of the artworks the Panzas collected over the years are now iconic examples of the periods they represent. About collecting, Panza said:

“To be a good collector you have to think a lot, to see a lot, to judge with care, not let yourself be dragged along too much by enthusiasm. One should make decisions slowly and buy what you like. And you need great faith in yourself. I bought artwork against the opinions of everyone.”

The Panzas’ dedication to collecting artists’ work in depth has been shared worldwide through exhibitions of the Panza Collection and the placement of works from their collection in museums including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art, New York; and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. The Panza Collection at the Albright-Knox includes 116 works by more than 30 artists and was built in stages through a 2008 acquisition including 71 works, the 2011 acquisition of three works, and an acquisition of 45 works in 2015. Selections from the 2015 acquisition will form the special exhibition Looking at Tomorrow: Light and Language from the Panza Collection, 1967–1990. The museum’s first acquisition from the Panza Collection was featured in a 2007 exhibition at the museum: The Panza Collection: An Experience of Color and Light.

Artists in this collection include Anne Appleby, Art & Language, Stuart Arends, Robert Barry, Alfonso Fratteggiani Bianchi, Max Cole, Hanne Darboven, Walter De Maria, Jan Dibbets, Dan Flavin, Ruth Ann Fredenthal, Hamish Fulton, Gilbert & George, Jene Highstein, Roni Horn, Douglas Huebler, Robert Irwin, Joseph Kosuth, David Lamelas, Sol LeWitt, Timothy Litzmann, Eric Orr, Stephen Prina, Winston Roeth, David Simpson, Phil Sims, Robert Therrien, Anne Truitt, Jan Vercruysse, Lawrence Weiner, and Ian Wilson.

Related Exhibitions

The Panza Collection: An Experience of Color and Light
November 16, 2007–February 24, 2008

The Long Curve:
150 Years of Visionary Collecting at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery

November 4, 2011­–March 4, 2012

Looking at Tomorrow: Light and Language from the Panza Collection, 1967–1990
October 24, 2015–February 7, 2016