Le Interviste di ProfessioneArte.it
Interview with Massimo Paolo Maria Vecchia, Art Advisor e Art Consultant. – ProfessioneARTE.it
Five questions to know in advance the great art professionals, the daily challenges to face, the choices that have determined their path in the art system and in the art market, the digital changes and the advice for those who want to start the same career in collaboration with ProfessioneARTE.it.
Photo Credits: Miart 2019
“I do the greatest job in the world.” Massimo Paolo Maria Vecchia, Art Advisor and independent Art Consultant, declares it with great passion and sincerity.
Massimo, thanks to his work, has the unique opportunity to put the works of art, with their artists and their incredible stories, at the centre of his attention. But he is always close to the collectors, who with their immense passion rely on him to find the piece that will enrich their collection or find a new location for that object from which they choose to part.
As Massimo recounts in this interview, it is impossible to carry out his profession without an accurate study of Art History, even less so without having built over time and thanks to experience a dense network of contacts to be part of that complex machine that is the art world.
What about digital? A new challenge of course, but also an opportunity to be exploited in tools and communication, to act more and more quickly in the art market.
Massimo Paolo Maria Vecchia works as an independent Art Advisor and Art Consultant, specializing in the art market of the twentieth century, with a preference for Italian and international artists after World War II.
He studied Art History at the University of Milan. After starting work at the organisational secretariat of the Mazzotta Foundation in Milan, she gained significant and many years of experience in the field of ancient and modern art in art galleries and participating in important trade fairs.
Through its activity as Art Advisor it provides collectors with advice and assistance for the purchase and sale of works of art, restoration, transport, verification of authenticity and archiving, and enhancement of the collections.
He collaborates with leading insurance companies as an expert, providing appraisals of works of art for insurance purposes of private and public collections.
It carries out consultancy activities for the evaluation and assistance in the purchase and sale of works of art to law firms and banking institutions.
He wrote for “Il Sole 24 Ore” as an expert on modern art, providing assessments of 19th and 20th century artists. He has privileged contacts with the main Italian and European galleries, as well as with archives and foundations.
He has worked as Senior Specialist in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art of the Wannenes auction house and since January 2019 he has been a consultant for Negri-Clementi Studio Legale Associato.
1.How has your path into the art world started?
I have to admit that during my high school classes I was distracted by leafing through the art history manual and so after the classical high school graduation the choice was rather forced.
A course of study at the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy that would allow me to know in depth the history of art from antiquity to the present day, with great teachers such as Eugenio Ricomini, Ferdinando Mazzocca, Maria Teresa Fiorio and Antonello Negri. Already during my years at university, I had the privilege of carrying out a highly qualifying training experience at the Mazzotta Foundation’s secretariat in Milan, which produced significant exhibitions dedicated to great masters such as Kandinsky, Schiele and Klimt.
Scheduling the works and contacting the collectors and museum lenders was the daily occupation for me, a young and shy novice student, but the real leap in the art market system was thanks to a great gallery owner, perhaps among the most skilled and passionate I have ever known, of whom I was assistant for almost ten years, even before the opening of his gallery, Matteo Lampertico.
From there, so to speak, the Italian and international art and market system has no longer, or almost no longer, had any secrets.
After a few years as an independent art consultant I accepted the role of manager at the Milan office of the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art of the Wannenes Auction House. This experience, which ended a few months ago, extremely intense and rewarding, allowed me to complete a journey through the professions of the art market, a beautiful journey that I still continue successfully as an independent art consultant, and which today finds its definition in the figure of Art Advisor and Art Consultant.
2.How would you describe your profession today?
The greatest job in the world?
In the meantime I have the small satisfaction that my daughter has perhaps understood what her daddy does… he values paintings. This, but not only that, much more.
I put the artwork and the people at the center. I catch the light in their eyes when I assist them in completing the acquisition of a work of art that will enrich their home, sometimes I feel sorry when I deal with the alienation of a work of art from their collection or just handed down by inheritance. It is a profession that requires constant updating, a great passion and very often I think I deserve an honorary degree in Psychology….. Jokes aside, I think it’s really difficult to find a profession today that allows almost daily new encounters with works of art and people.
You learn not only from books, but also and above all by listening to the stories of passionate collectors, museum directors, curators, restorers, transporters and framers.
Every profession that gravitates around the work of art or the art market is in fact fundamental and completes with its specific skills the set of services that I as Art Advisor go to offer to collectors for the care, good management and enhancement of works of art.
It must also be said that I started in the days of fax and photocolor, now I do a lot with a smartphone … but believe me, the almost scientific approach to the work of art has not changed, despite social networks and the new speed that these times impose.
3. How has your profession changed over time?
As I was telling you, my first approaches to works of art and their market began when documents were faxed, paintings were imprinted on photocolors, in short, the early years of the Blackberry.
Of course, information travels faster and more easily today, but I still continue to fill my library with catalogues.
New professions have appeared, trying to make their way in the art system, sometimes not having the appropriate skills and therefore a bit ‘for fun. That said, the art market fortunately still sees the work of art and its main problems at its centre: the correct evaluation according to different purposes contextualized with the times in which it is carried out, the correct reading of its state of conservation (certainly today restorers have at their disposal materials and techniques that twenty years ago were not yet used), the correct attribution or verification of their authenticity, and a correct due diligence when buying and selling.
Everything has changed, but nothing has changed.
4. What impact is the digital having on your industry?
If you consider how much time people spend on average every day on social networks like Facebook and Instagram (and it’s a really impressive fact!), which are based not only on the speed of transmission of information, but especially on the importance of the image before the content, you can well understand how the advent of digital has been a real revolution.
But also a panacea that in recent months of universal lockdown due to the Covid19 pandemic has allowed artists, galleries, museums, fairs and auction houses not to disappear and continue to operate. Is there anyone who in recent months has not entered the Viewing Rooms of a fair or hasn’t had fun walking virtually through the rooms of Raphael’s exhibition in Rome? Always on the subject of digital, new applications studied ad hoc for professionals, collectors and artists, such as Art Rights are undoubtedly helping for the “good management” of a work of art and obviously I use them too.
I admit I’m a bit retro and I still prefer to express myself in front of an audience of people rather than in front of my computer’s webcam, sitting in the living room for a webinar, but as Bob Dylan sang “the times they are a-changin“.
5. Cosa consiglierebbe a un giovane che vuole intraprendere la sua professione?
I don’t know who said or wrote that “in life the exams never end”, but my profession fortunately puts me in front of always new operational cases that require skills, study and preparation, and constant updating, so I think that even before printing a business card with the writing AAA after a master’s degree in Art Market, you have to ask yourself how much you are prepared in the history of art – since we deal with works of art – and how much experience we have gained working as assistants in galleries and auction houses.
It is also true that young people today manage to acquire information in ways and times much faster than when I started – digital helps! – and sometimes it is necessary to prepare the ground for many years before reaping the benefits and being recognized as qualified professionals in the art system. As if to say, to do, well, this job is no longer just a degree and English and maybe, really, the big push can only give it passion.
But what could be nicer than being passionate about beauty?
“THE ART ADVISOR CONSULTS AND SUPPORTS THE COLLECTOR” MASSIMO PAOLO MARIA VECCHIA
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This interview was conducted in collaboration with ProfessioneARTE.it, the first community dedicated to training, updating and orientation towards the art professions.