Posted: May 3, 2019 -
Artuner describes itself as a ‘hybrid’ platform that operates both online and offline, staging exhibitions around the world through their pop-up events and via their online curated exhibitions. Re Rebaudengo is an entrepreneur, collector and curator with a passion for contemporary art which clearly runs through the family (his mother is the major art collector Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo). Artuner was founded in 2013 by Re Rebaudengo as an online only model, displaying a number of exhibitions online which were put together with the help of top curators. Since then it has moved into the physical realm, putting on an array of pop up exhibitions internationally. Re Rebaudengo champions emerging artists as well as those who are already established.
Can you tell us about your background and when you became interested in art?
When I was about 5 years old, in the early 1990s, my mother started collecting very seriously. Together with her, I became immersed in the art world, getting to know artists and curators since a very young age. For my passion to grow, it was essential to be exposed to the art world, talking to curators and artists, visiting their studios around the world, seeing exhibitions… The decisive moment was when I finally moved to London, where I was able to further develop my network and knowledge in the European capital of contemporary art.
When and how was ARTUNER founded?
While I was doing my Masters at LSE I had to develop a business proposal and what I devised was essentially ARTUNER in its earliest stage. I was looking for an innovative model, that would be complementary to the ones already existing in the art market, able to offer new opportunities to both artists and collectors. I became so passionate about this project as I was developing it for school, that I decided to take it to the next level, and make it a reality. It’s been more than 5 years since it started, and although the model has evolved and changed from the beginning, ARTUNER is expanding and growing.
What is your mission?
ARTUNER’s first and foremost priority are the artists themselves: our aim is that of bringing great art to the public and to collectors, using our experience to scout new talent, as well as to re-evaluate some more historical artists previously overlooked by the market. In the past couple of years, we also started representing a few artists. It’s very important for us to reach an international public of curators and collectors through our online exhibitions. Indeed, we have a strong focus on content because it’s important for us to reach a wide audience of art lovers – typically younger than the average collector – who, even if they are not collectors today, could become collectors in the future.
You started as an online platform but have since transitioned into also having a physical presence. What prompted you to make this change?
At the beginning all the shows were online-only, then opportunities started presenting themselves organically and we started organising pop-up exhibitions. Mainly, we wanted to start working on a more permanent basis with some of the artists, and this meant being able to provide them with regular opportunities for physical shows. On the other hand, not having a permanent physical space means we are able to move cities and locations, and that we can offer ever new exciting challenges to the artists. Exhibitions are an incredible opportunity to contextualise their practice and give the proper critical and curatorial depth to their propositions. Therefore, this hybrid model gives us an opportunity to meet art lovers, curators and critics in the various cities where we organise our exhibitions and therefore to grow internationally our network of supporters.
You call yourself a ‘hybrid’ art platform, can you talk us through the different functions/uses of ARTUNER?
ARTUNER aims to cater in a flexible way to the needs of collectors and artists: through our exhibitions – physical and online- we present our artists’ works in thoughtfully curated contexts; the ever changing exhibition locations and the website allow for a dynamic global reach; the openly available contents – insightful articles and catalogue essays – on artuner.com encourage prospective collectors to learn more about the featured artists; our events and tailored approach to collecting guide our clients through their collecting journey.
ARTUNER is known for choosing exciting and often unconventional exhibition locations – how do you choose?
We adopt an opportunity driven approach and therefore remain quite open minded. The most important quality for the spaces we choose is that they must be special: we aim to curate experiences, not just ‘exhibitions’. We are interested in presenting the artists’ works in different cities: in the past 5 years, we’ve exhibited in Chelsea New York, Berlin, London, Paris, Brussels, and Greece, and all the venues had distinctive characteristics. We aim at creating diverse experiences, both for the artists who can thus work on varied projects, as well as for the visitors who will find themselves in non-canonical and often ambitious spaces.
How does your role differ from that of an advisor or gallerist?
In the contemporary art world at large, definitions are becoming quite blurred, therefore also in our case it is perhaps not possible to neatly place us in a precise category. I really liked how American collector Don Rubell described us last year in an FT article “It’s not a gallery and he’s not an adviser. What he’s doing is managing these young people’s careers, which is an absolute necessity today.” For the artists, I try to act as an agent, counseling them on the next best move. For the collectors, my objective is to introduce them to very exciting, very engaging art, which can challenge and shape the way we see the world. We curate group shows which over the years have featured a large number of artists; many of them are represented by other galleries, but we involve them in our group shows. Since we started, we have curated more than 25 exhibitions featuring more than 120 artists.
You worked with Cassina Projects in 2016/2017, can you tell us a bit about this collaboration?
Our collaboration with Cassina Projects was an important step for ARTUNER. We committed to curating a one year programme in a newly opened, beautiful Chelsea gallery space: it was the first time in our activity that we had the opportunity to develop our curatorial narrative over such a long time span.
Our focus was on showcasing artists who had not been recently, or ever, exhibited in New York. Furthermore, we aimed at creating an intergenerational dialogue between the artists involved. The result was a fairly experimental programme with unexpected dialogues, but, I feel, surprisingly powerful, which featured: Maclean, Wylie, Felton, Coren, Nimer Pjota, Keen, Holden, Herold, Czupryn, Seib, Kneale, Zeigler, Salter, Avotins, Uncini, Di Massimo, Bruns, Fitzpatrick.
You are also a collector – are there any recent or particularly exciting acquisitions you can tell us about?
Yes, indeed, this is the perspective I started ARTUNER with: through the eyes of a collector. In fact, I’m an avid collector of many of the artists we exhibit with ARTUNER, for instance: Paul Kneale, David Czupryn, Des Lawrence, Ana Elisa Egreja, and Manuele Cerutti. I am also very involved with my family’s foundation in Turin too, the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. I really like to collect artists from my generation, and I supported some of them since the very beginning, like: Josh Kline, Ian Cheng, Avery Singer, Sanya Kantarovsky.
At the Fondazione, for instance, we just opened a show I’m really excited about, a solo show by Michael Armitage: The Promised Land (open 21st February- 26th May 2019). Michael is an incredible artist and I’m very proud to have been supporting his career, starting from the show we organised with Artuner almost 5 years ago.
In your experience what is the best way to look for new artists? Do you have any tips for navigating an art fair when you’re on the lookout for emerging talent?
I spend a lot of time getting to know artists and visiting their studios; if this is done as a full time activity it’s a great way to scout new talent. On top of this, one should regularly visit biennials, museum shows and art fairs, although these sometimes can be challenging places to discover new artists, whereas they’re great to see more of the artists you are already familiar with.
Through ARTUNER we try to provide guidance to those who are approaching the world of collecting for the first time: indeed, on top of the international pop-up exhibitions and strong focus on content I already mentioned, we also periodically organise studio visit events, introducing aspiring collectors to different ways of discovering and appreciating talent, giving them an opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with the artists themselves, in order to build a long-lasting interest and collecting relationship. For instance, with ARTUNER we are holding a series of events called Studioscape which consists precisely of organised studio visits, giving interested collectors an opportunity to enter the engaging world of the artist’s place of work.
What does the future hold for ARTUNER?
This year, we decided to deepen our commitment to the artists we work the most closely with. Right now, as mentioned, we are hosting the ongoing event Studioscape: Central London showcasing the works of Rebecca Salter, Bea Bonafini, and Des Lawrence. In April, we are supporting Pia Krajewski’s presentation at Kunstleraus Bethanien in Berlin, where she currently is an artist in residence, organising a series of dedicated events during Berlin Gallery Weekend.
Our biggest project for the Spring is a group show opening May 15th at Somerset House, London as part of the Public Programme of PhotoLondon, Crossing the Borders of Photography, featuring Ana Elisa Egreja, Paul Kneale, Tabor Robak, and Des Lawrence.
David Czupryn, who just recently concluded a show at Kunsthalle Darmstadt, will open ‘Holy Ghosts’ in early November at Ausstellungen Engen… and of course we are already getting ready for our annual big group show next Autumn in Turin.
Cover: Frank Schirmacher, 2015, by Des Lawrence, 178 x 271 cm, Enamel on Aluminum, Courtesy of the Artist and ARTUNER