Particle sat down with art collector Emanuela Del Rosso to discuss her love for art and collecting as well as her learnings over the years when it comes to navigating the art world. The 54 year old Italian collector lives in London with her husband Fabio and their two children. Acquiring over 150 works which all hang in their London home, the couple have built an eclectic yet coherent collection with some of the most exciting emerging and mid- career artists working today. 

Artists work pictured (left to right): Sara Anstis, Mary Stephenson, Marcus Jamal, China Zagbor, Zandile Tshabalala, Vaughn Spann. Courtesy of Emanuela & Fabio Del Russo Collection.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into art collecting? 

I was born in Milan but lived in Pescara. I studied Psychology in Rome, specializing in psychosomatic medicine, family and behavioral therapy. I married Fabio, who is also from Pescara, when I was 25 and we traveled for his job first in different cities in Italy, and then abroad. We have two kids Ludovica, 23 and Edoardo 21.

I always had a passion for art and wanted to study History of Art once I finished my studies in Psychology but I was fed up with taking exams, so I thought I could learn more about art by visiting museums, galleries, art schools and especially by talking to artists, curators, gallerists and everyone in the art world that would be willing to share their knowledge and experience. When we sold our house in London, we decided to use some of the money to start a collection. This was 6-7 years ago.  We wanted our home to be surrounded by some of the beautiful works that we would see in the exhibitions we visited. We also wanted to support young artists that were in school or just finishing their studies. We are resisting the idea of renting a storage unit as we like to live with the works that we buy but it’s becoming a bit challenging to find space for every work so at the moment we are buying small size works.

Issy Wood, At the V&A (unarmed), 2017, oil on velvet, 50.5 x 40.5 x 2.5cm. Courtesy of the artist and Emanuela & Fabio Del Russo Collection

Can you tell us a little bit about what you collect and talk us through some of your favorite pieces in your collection?

The focus is mainly on emerging and mid-career artists, largely in painting but with some sculptures and photographs as well. I included some photos of five works from my collection in this interview- a reclaimed window from Augustas Serapinas, a photo from John Edmonds, paintings from Issy Wood and Claire Tabouret and an embroidery thread with a terrazzo frame by Klara Hosnedlova

Claire Tabouret, Patricia with her eyes closed (pale), 2019, Acrylic and ink on paper, 76,2 x 56cm. Courtesy of the artist and Emanuela & Fabio Del Russo Collection 

What have been some of  the ‘challenges’ you have faced while navigating the artworld?

At the beginning there are always some natural teething pains in understanding market mechanics, and establishing relationships, etc. You have to validate yourself as a serious counterpart towards galleries, in terms of attendance to shows, quickness in deciding, promptness in payments. I would not call them challenges given that the art market in the end is a relatively small world with simple rules, I would say it is the normal apprenticeship for the newcomer.

John Edmonds, Collapse, 2019, Digital silver gelatin photograph, Framed: 52  x 52 cm
Edition 2 of 3. 

What is the first piece you bought? Do you still own it ? 

We bought and still own a piece of David Ostrowski at a Bonhams’ auction.

In your opinion, what are three important factors to consider when acquiring a work of art?

First and foremost, you have to like it. Collecting should be about passion, the economics are a consequence. Potential of the artist and price are also two obvious factors.

How do you feel the art world has changed in the last five years?

It has become faster and faster in creating instant success or oblivion. Access to buying works has become more difficult. 

How do you differentiate an artist having a hot moment and a long term investment?

It is very difficult so I am not sure you actually can. As I mentioned, art could be a good investment in the end, but this cannot be the key factor in a decision. Also, even for established artists, their market could be tricky to decipher. When an artist or a group of artists (e.g. female abstraction at the moment) is on a good run, it could lose steam quickly or skyrocket. For established artists, which in theory are the safest bet, entry price point could be a hurdle for a great long term investment.

Your place is covered with art all over the walls. What is it about owning art that got you hooked, rather than purely experiencing it at galleries and museums? 

I think it is the whole package. First of all to be surrounded by beauty at home, the pleasure of owning a beautiful work, then going to student shows, fairs, gallery shows, increased my knowledge and experience. Finding new promising artists, scoring some successes and learning from failures also became part of the experience. On the other hand I think that collecting can be a stressful experience compared to simply enjoying a show in a gallery or a museum.

Augustas Serapinas, Notes from Užupis 10, 2019, reclaimed window frame, stained glass 91.4 x 40.4cm. Courtesy of the artist and Emanuela & Fabio Del Russo Collection

Your Instagram @imemanuela is one of our favorite accounts to follow. You are very generous with what you share. How do you scout new artists ? What is it about an artist practice that gets you captivated and want to know more? Is it purely on an aesthetic level or beyond?

For the scouting, it is mainly screening Instagram pages, going to colleges’ shows, art fairs and smaller gallery shows. The aesthetic feeling and technical quality are paramount, as well as the emotions that a work of art gives you when you first see it but given the abundance of choice, an artist or a piece should have something that makes it unique, interesting and recognisable compared to the others.

Artists (left to right): Rashid Johnson, Issy Wood, Kenturah Davis, Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Klara Hosnedlova, John Edmonds and Sarah Ball. Courtesy of Emanuela Del Russo.

You seem to be heavily engaged in seeing a lot of art. Do you feel your eye has developed since you started collecting?

It definitely improved since I first started collecting. At the beginning I was more influenced by trends and I didn’t have much confidence in my eye so some ‘mistakes’ were made. Now when I look at a work, I am guided by my eye in terms of looking at the quality of the work, at the potential of the artist and the emotions that it gives me. Also talking to the artists, curators and gallerists helped a lot to develop a better understanding of the art and the market.

What is your most treasured work in your collection?

A work from Klara Hosnedlova exhibited in a group show at Fondation Cartier and bought from Hunt Kastner, a gallery in Prague (we went for a nice day trip to Prague to collect it, it was possible before Brexit…).

Klára Hosnedlová, Untitled, from the series No Man’s Land, 2019, Stranded Sticktwist Mouline, Embroidery Cotton thread, terrazzo frame, 44 x 34 x 4 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Emanuela & Fabio Del Russo Collection 

Can you share a little bit about the last work you bought?

We recently bought a photograph by Larry Achiampong and two paintings from Laura Holmes. The process is very different for the two purchases. Larry is an established photographer and all-round visual artist, who is having a great show at Turner Contemporary in Margate. Laura is a very promising student who just finished her first year at RCA.

What advice would you give to someone first getting into art collecting?

Be patient and learn step by step.

What is something you wish someone would have told you when you started collecting?

Be patient, don’t buy into the frenzy 

Can you share the names of 3 artists on your radar? 

I have quite a few but if I have to mention 3 I would say, Charlotte Edey, Noelia Towers and Ernesto Renda