Why Italian art collector wants Bangkok to see his Warhols (Interview)

Photo: The Andy Warhol Museum / Facebook
Photo: The Andy Warhol Museum / Facebook

If Gianfranco Rosini could meet Andy Warhol again, he would ask for him to forgive the fact he didn’t sit for a portrait – and ask him to make one now.

In four decades since he met the now-immortal artist, Gianfranco has amassed one of the largest collections of his works – a collection that, after a long pandemic delay, makes its Bangkok debut next week.

Gianfranco Rosini
Gianfranco Rosini

Dubbed Andy Warhol Pop Art, 128 Warhol originals will eventually show during the three-month exhibition from the private collection of the Italian collector, who is also director of the Rosini Gutman Foundation.

The show opens Mother’s Day, Aug. 12, and runs through Nov. 24 at contemporary  riverside art venue RCB Gallery in Bangkok’s old quarter.  

Warhols from private collection to show 3 months in Bangkok (Updated)

Before Bangkok gets to see Warhol’s famous and lesser-known pieces with its own eyes, Coconuts Bangkok talked to Rosini, 57, about how his obsession with actress Liza Minelli and encounter with Warhol at 13 would lead to his collecting the works showing next week.

Our Q&A below has been edited for clarity. 


Why did you become a Warhol collector?

I managed to be invited to the opening of the Ladies and Gentleman Portfolio presentation at the home of Countess Giuliana Adami Dona Delle Rose in Rome. On that occasion I met Andy Warhol and managed to embrace Liza Minnelli, who was one of my idols! I am still bound by a deep and sincere friendship with Giuliana, who allowed me to attend that inauguration even though I was still a kid.

Warhol gave the celebrity treatment to mixed-race drag queen models in his 1975 series, Ladies and Gentlemen Complete Portfolio. Photo: Media Sphere Communications Ltd. / Courtesy
Warhol gave the celebrity treatment to mixed-race drag queen models in his 1975 series, Ladies and Gentlemen Complete Portfolio. Photo: Media Sphere Communications Ltd. / Courtesy


You come from a family of collectors?

My family has been dedicated to art for generations and, since I was a child, I followed my family when my parents went to the artists’ studios. So I was lucky enough to receive works of art as a gift directly from the artists, and that’s how I started collecting. 

Andy Warhol was the first artist I bought a work of, or rather an entire portfolio! The famous Ladies and Gentleman [Complete Portfolio, 1975], which you can also admire at the exhibition.

 

Which is your favorite Warhol? Why?

I had the pleasure and honor of holding Liza Minnelli in my arms, even if only for an endless moment! So, when I started to be able to afford it, I purchased almost all the portraits of Liza Minnelli on the market, both for a sentimental reason and because I believe that that series of portraits are among the most successful and representative works of Andy Warhol. With very few traits, as Leonardo da Vinci said, you can bring forth the soul of the subject portrayed directly from his eyes!

 

Any other favorite artists in your collection?

[Italian painter and sculptor] Amedeo Modigliani is one of the most poetic artists and one of the masters that I love most, and also in this case I was lucky enough to meet with the Modigliani family and start very soon to be able to collect his works by making “exchanges,” even though there was some confusion about the authenticity of his works which clouded his Great Art. 

Andy Warhol’s Liza Minelli hangs second from right. Photo: Media Sphere Communications Ltd. / Courtesy
Andy Warhol’s Liza Minelli hangs second from right. Photo: Media Sphere Communications Ltd. / Courtesy


If you could meet Warhol in person again, what would you say to him?

First of all, I would like to thank him for the advice he gave me, those few but intense times that I was able to talk to him, advice that I managed, almost always, to put into effect in my life testified by the thousands of his works that I was able to have in my hands, in addition to the 180 pieces that are currently in my family collection.

Then I would ask him if he forgave me for not having agreed to have my portrait done, and I would ask him to make one now, in which, however, I would look much more attractive than actually I was because this was his talent!

 

What do you think about showing your collection in Bangkok? 

I am honored that the Rosini Gutman Collection is exhibited in Bangkok, since, in addition to being one of the few collections that looks at Warhol’s works of art from a typically Italian point of view, it’s composed of works that start from the end of the ‘50s and to the end of the 80s, managing to give the exhibition an almost complete vision of the artistic path that Andy Warhol took in those 30 years of glory, a path that can therefore also be a didactic tool for schools and particularly art schools.

Campbell’s Tomato Soup Box, part of the Andy Warhol exhibition. Photo: Media Sphere Communications Ltd. / Courtesy
Campbell’s Tomato Soup Box, part of the Andy Warhol exhibition. Photo: Media Sphere Communications Ltd. / Courtesy

I have been able to get to know and fall in love with Thailand and Bangkok since 1982 when I visited it for the first time, and I immediately got used to it, dressing like fishermen and eating in great restaurants, and especially enjoying visiting the temples and embracing the sacred trees!

After that first experience, I was captured 11 more times by the magnificent nature and hypnotic hospitality of the people of Thailand! I will definitely come in person to visit the exhibition, as soon as the limitations imposed by the lockdown are removed, in order to still enjoy the Thai paradise. I’d regret not being able to enjoy the inauguration of August 11th.

I would like to add that, for many historical and cultural reasons, Thailand and Italy are spiritually and geographically, very similar with a very distinctive cultural heritage that makes them very essential in their area – “So far but so close.”

Andy Warhol Pop Art will run Aug. 12 through Nov. 24 at RCB Gallery, which sits on the second floor of River City Bangkok. The venue is located on Soi Charoen Krung 24 and is best reached via BTS Saphan Taksin or the Si Phaya (N3) pier. General admission tickets are THB300 and available online. 

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Warhols from private collection to show 3 months in Bangkok (Updated)

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