The Mazzoleni Brothers’ Turin Gallery Sets Its Sights on the Global Art Market
Portrait of Luigi and Davide Mazzoleni. Photo by Giorgio Perottino. Courtesy of Mazzoleni.
Founded by Giovanni and Anna Pia Mazzoleni in the northern Italian city of Turin, Mazzoleni has presented exhibitions from more than 200 prominent Italian and international artists since it opened in 1968. The gallery, housed in the historic Palazzo Panizza in Piazza Solferino, built its reputation by championing post-war Italian art, working closely with artist estates such as Agostino Bonalumi and Giorgio de Chirico. In the last decade, however, the founders’ sons Luigi and Davide have transformed the gallery from a regional platform into an international force.
Mazzoleni grew organically from Giovanni and Anna Pia’s private art collection. Giovanni, initially in the textile industry, started his private collection in the 1950s, curating a monumental selection of modern Italian art. Luigi and Davide have helped their parents in Turin since the ’90s, and in 2012, they decided to take the family’s business to the next level. The Mazzoleni family opened their second gallery in London in 2014. When Luigi and Davide took the helm in 2018, acting as owner and CEO, respectively, they inherited not just a gallery, but a legacy.
“It was like sending a missile to the moon because, you know, we accelerated,” Luigi told Artsy. “We accelerated the process that my father did for the last 30 years because when we opened the gallery in London in 2014, the gallery had almost 30 years of history.”
Exterior view of Mazzoleni Gallery, London. Courtesy of Mazzoleni.
Still, Turin holds a deep significance to the Italian art world and the Mazzoleni family, especially as their gallery prepares for Artissima, Italy’s leading contemporary art fair. Held annually in Turin, the fair this year is organized around the theme “Relations to care,” and will feature works from contemporary artists including Marinella Senatore, Rebecca Moccia, Salvatore Astore, David Reimondo, Melissa McGill, Shigeru Saito, and Andrea Francolino.
“Artists such as Marinella Senatore or Rebecca Moccia act as spokespersons within their research for a public awareness of human relationships, the emotions they trigger, and how they can, within a system such as the community, positively alter our perceptions and our view of the world around us,” noted Davide.
Meanwhile, Luigi revealed how Turin and Artissima echo the broader shift in collector interest toward contemporary art: “In the beginning, we did [Artissima] many times with modern artists, but it was not successful at all because the fair is completely contemporary,” he told Artsy. “The people who approach the fair, they come with a very clear idea of what they’re going to buy or what they are looking for in this experience. In the last decade…we always do contemporary projects in Artissima.”
Nunzio, installation view of “Drawings” at Mazzoleni, London, 2023. Photo by Todd-White Art Photography. Courtesy of Mazzoleni.
In fact, since Davide and Luigi took over, the gallery as a whole is increasingly turning its attention to contemporary art alongside the gallery’s long-standing modernist foundation. Rather than expanding their roster excessively, the brothers focus on fostering deep relationships with a select group of contemporary artists. “We don’t want to be a super mega-commercial gallery,” said Luigi. Instead, the gallerists are interested in supporting the progress of emerging or mid-career artists as they enter the international art market. For instance, Mazzoleni presented Moccia’s first solo exhibition, “Somewhere in the Room,” which opened in Turin in September.
“At the heart of this strategy is the collaboration with a small group of contemporary artists who are dedicated to the creation of new projects and the use of new media,” Davide told Artsy. “This approach allows the gallery to provide personalized support to these artists, creating an environment conducive to their growth.”
Additionally, as new focal points in the global art market emerge, such as South Korea and China, Mazzoleni is expanding its reach. The gallery actively participates in Asian art fairs such as Frieze Seoul, where it presented Nunzio, Salvo, and Agostino Bonalumi at this year’s edition.
Agostino Bonalumi and Lee Seung Jio, installation view of “The Paradox of Proximity” at Mazzoleni, London, 2023. Photo by Todd-White Art Photography. Courtesy of Mazzoleni.
In October, Mazzoleni opened “The Paradox of Proximity: Agostino Bonalumi and Lee Seung Jio” in its London gallery during Frieze week. The exhibition is presented in collaboration with Korean stalwart Kukje Gallery. By working with other galleries, the Mazzoleni brothers hope to create an international dialogue between Italian art and their gallery with the international art world.
“The idea is to strengthen our gallery’s presence in these geographies beyond art fairs,” said Davide. “This demonstrates the gallery’s willingness to adapt to the changing dynamics of the art market and explore new opportunities for growth.”
Luigi points out that Mazzoleni Gallery is not only participating in prominent art fairs like Frieze Seoul, Art Dubai, and Abu Dhabi Art, but is also considering additional collaborations with local galleries in their markets. This strategic approach aims to broaden the gallery’s footprint beyond art fairs, reflecting its adaptability to the evolving art market.
“If I see the future of the art world, I would say Asia—especially China and Korea—is the new hub for art,” Luigi said. “After two years of Frieze Seoul, I can tell you that all the museums they are opening show that it’s going to be a very, very important market.”