Art Advisor Elisa Carollo on the State of the Market (Part 2)

James Ardis
Published on

Like many others during the pandemic, art advisor Elisa Carollo found herself reflecting on both international movements for social change and the dynamics of her local community. In part two of this interview, Carollo discusses the ongoing push for art world diversity. Then, she gives Auction Daily readers an inside look at two exhibitions she helped curate. Both focus on the future of her native country’s contemporary art scene. Those who missed part one of this interview can read it here.

Elisa Carollo in front of the public artwork Bodies in Alliance by Marinella Senatore. Image by Marco Pavan.
Elisa Carollo in front of the public artwork Bodies in Alliance by Marinella Senatore. Image by Marco Pavan.

Auction Daily: You expressed a desire last year to see an art fair that specifically supports women artists and dealers. Now that in-person art fairs are slowly returning, and the push for diversity in the art world continues, do you think this is closer to becoming a reality? 

Elisa Carollo: I feel that this has been a period of great reflection. Many helped raise awareness and subsequently great change in the art world. From the Me Too movement in the years before the pandemic to Black Lives Matter and, most recently, the Stop Asian Hate movement, I feel the art world is finally facing long-time biases and inequalities that have long endured in the system. 

There’s still a lot to do, but I feel that we are at least raising the right questions about inequality and finally finding some answers. This involves looking at organizations’ staff and leadership, as well as the works they champion and the artistic canon they help construct. 

Over the past month, I’ve been curating the “Women Rising” section for our brand new monthly digital issue at Art She Says. I was pleasantly surprised to observe how many women were making the news for their new roles or gallery representation. 

Nonetheless, I believe that the most important thing is never to get to the excess, neither on one side nor the other. The answer is always in a balanced middle, where we all respect others for what they do, achieve, and contribute to this world and the art world. 

Auction Daily: Tell our readers a bit more about the new exhibit you helped curate, Italian Twist. Which conversations surrounding Italian contemporary art will this particularly shine a light on?

Elisa Carollo: As I left the US and got back to Italy at the start of the pandemic, I saw a great opportunity to rediscover the local art scene in my country.  This opportunity has found full expression in this show, Italian Twist, that I co-curated for a brand-new, private foundation, Fondazione Imago Mundi, in Treviso, close to Venice. 

Italian Twist is a group exhibition featuring a selection of works by 19 Italian artists, including six commissioned for the show, all born in the 1980s and 1990s, alongside the Italian collections of Imago Mundi. Together, they form a litmus test for the cultural energies of the peninsula and probe the idea of a collective restart.

Christian Fogarolli, My Mind is on Fire, 2018 - presented as part of Italian Twist at Fondazione Imago Mundi, Treviso. Image by Marco Pavan.
Christian Fogarolli, My Mind is on Fire, 2018 – presented as part of Italian Twist at Fondazione Imago Mundi, Treviso. Image by Marco Pavan.

Focusing on the Italian art scene of the last ten years was a programmatic choice, setting the tone for the entire new course of the Foundation as an institution that will support today’s artistic production, as well as a way to acknowledge the richness of Italian contemporary visual culture.

The show is also intended as a wish for a new course for our country, a rebirth in art post-pandemic. The pandemic will inevitably leave us with a different world, and art is here to help us understand and reinvent it. 

Artists represented in Italian Twist deal with urgent issues such as civil rights, psychological control and subjection, and mental health issues. Many also engage in aesthetic discourse, such as sculptural forms as processes or the effort to reinvent or re-appropriate the tradition of painting. 

Auction Daily: You also helped organize another exhibition, “Regarding Venice,” spotlighting three contemporary Venice-based artists: Barbara De Vivi, Giuseppe Di Liberto, and Rémi Deymier. What should our readers keep in mind before paying it a visit this summer?

Elisa Carollo: This project was the result of these last few months working as a consultant in Venice and rediscovering the city’s lights, colors, and art. Doing studio visits and meetings there during the lockdowns was a new experience. The city was fully deserted— but so magical.

I was born and raised about an hour from Venice, but I’ve never hung out there much. I knew very little about its art scene, having moved so soon to Milan. I first realized this during the last Venice Biennale, and I made myself the promise to better explore and keep an eye on the local scene as soon as I had the time.

Artworks presented as part of Regarding Venice at Galleria Poggiali, Milan. Image by Michele Alberto Sereni.
Artworks presented as part of Regarding Venice at Galleria Poggiali, Milan. Image by Michele Alberto Sereni.

Then, life gave me plenty of time. With multiple studio visits, I had the chance to discover the richness that Venice still has, which inspires young painters in particular. The result was this summer show at Galleria Poggiali, one of the galleries I’m currently advising for the program.

My main role with Galleria Poggiali has been to introduce them to international artists, aiming to expand and renovate their roster with solo show projects for the new space in Milan. The last show we did was for Brooklyn-based rising star Kennedy Yanko, which I was happy to bring to Milan. Yanko is currently a resident at Rubell Foundation, the first sculptor to be honored with this residency.

Now that the international program had been postponed to September, we decided to dedicate these summer months to three very talented artists from the Venetian art scene, namely Rémi Deymier, Barbara De Vivi, and Giuseppe Di Liberto. The three are very different, but they all share a meditative approach to painting. The light and atmosphere of Venice also charge through each of their works, creating a unique narrative or dynamism. 

We were happy that the show was very well received, including in terms of acquisitions for these young artists out of school. I think people appreciate when you can tell that there’s a specific thinking and narrative behind a show. That same insistence on cohesion also went into Italian Twist. I think it’s more engaging than just accumulating paintings one after the other on the wall, as many summer shows do.

You see, during this year back, I first rediscovered the Milan art scene and then Venice. Everything amounts to something, even these pandemic months.

Elisa Carollo (second from left) and artists in front of an artwork included in Regarding Venice at Galleria Poggiali in Milan. Image by Michele Alberto Sereni.
Elisa Carollo (second from left) and artists in front of an artwork included in Regarding Venice at Galleria Poggiali in Milan. Image by Michele Alberto Sereni.

Elisa Carollo is an art advisor and USPAP-compliant ISA (International Society of Appraisers) member appraiser, with a special focus on XX century and contemporary art. She holds an MA in Art, Law and Business from Christie’s New York and aBA in Marketing and management of Cultural and Creative Industries from IULM University in Milan. To discover more from Carollo, follow her on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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James Ardis
James Ardis
Senior Writer and Editor

James Ardis is a writer, editor, and content strategist focused on the auction industry. His company, James Ardis Writing, has partnered with auction houses, galleries, and many clients outside the art world.

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