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Lavinia Rinaldi

September 27, 2015

Biennial of Antiques in Florence

The trends of the antique market and the opinion of the opinion leaders

Art, beauty and antiques are back again in the beautiful setting of Palazzo Corsini in Florence and transform the city into an international showcase of the best of Italian and international artwork.

The 29th International Antiques Biennale of Florence, the oldest consistently running art and antiques fair in Europe and one of the most important trade shows in the field, just as much as Maastricht and Paris, is also a time of assessing where the art market stands now and where it is heading. A few opinion leaders share their vision and insights with us.

Marco Voena
Artwork: an investment opportunity or a status symbol? Are there still art collectors who buy out of passion?

Art collecting is a passion, but it is also a status symbol and an investment opportunity. Passion drives the purchase decision, but each collector must make clear what his or her preferences and priorities are. 

Antique artwork collectors have been opening up to contemporary art lately. Out of passion or fashion?
In our global world, we are bombarded with images on a daily basis, so we can hardly ignore “the contemporary”. Contemporary art creates the atmosphere of our present, antique artwork reconnects us with our roots. The dialogue between antique and contemporary is the key to going along with the present. 

Can art still be described as a store of value?
First of all, art is a shelter for the soul, an exhilarating and faithful life-companion. It is not only a matter of investing in art, but also of being able to enjoy it intimately.

Riccardo Bacarelli
The taste of collectors has evolved over the years and now ranges from antique to contemporary artwork. Out of passion or fashion?

There are many art collectors going from antique to contemporary, but also the other way around. Trends are influenced by fashion, but art is universal, it is difficult to single out a period of time.

Artwork: an investment opportunity or only a status symbol?
Artwork is an excellent investment opportunity. It is part of man’s vanity to own it and show it, becoming thus a status symbol. Passion is the driving force behind a collector, the thirst for knowledge, the love of and sensitivity to art. 

Does the Florence Biennale still occupy a prominent place in the international art market?
The Biennale- and I have the honor of being one of the members of the organizing committee- has always been a major event on the international antiques scene. It is a landmark for my family of Florentine antique dealers, I have been attending it since I was a child, and it has always been the most important showcase for Italian art.

Enrico Frascione
Is artwork still a store of value?

Yes, absolutely….obviously precious and quality objects, the secret of success lies in beautiful things. 

Is the art market within young people’s reach? Is there any financial support providing incentives for purchase?
Young people are distracted by too many fleeting and nebulous offerings, usually not within their reach. There is financial support, but the bureaucratic procedures required to obtain it are nerve-racking.

What does the Biennale mean to you?
I have been attending all the Florentine Biennales since 1959. I have met and admired all the secretary-generals at the head of the Biennale, from the Bellini brothers to Guido Bartolozzi, the brilliant Giovanni Pratesi and the current one, the dynamic Fabrizio Moretti. The Biennale’s cultivated and sophisticated visitors had high expectations this year and I am sure they were not disappointed.

Otto Nauman
Is the purchase of artwork more of an investment, a status symbol or a passion?

There is no doubt that artwork is an investment opportunity, but also a status symbol, without minimizing the role of the passion factor. Many investors, after having purchased a few works of art, become passionate art collectors.

Is the purchase of antique or modern artwork still a good investment?
Yes, if dealing with the art gallery owner you trust. If you buy at auction without proper guidance, you run the risk of building a valueless collection.

In your opinion, how important is the Biennale on the international scene?
It was born to be a nationally-prominent event, but Fabrizio Moretti’s leadership is taking it to the international level and transforming it into a major cultural event.

Konrad Bernheimer
Is it currently profitable to invest in art?

Yes, if done smartly and following good advice and, in my opinion, one should never buy artwork without putting passion into it! Those who buy only to make a good investment or as a status symbol will never build an interesting collection.

Is the art market within young people’s reach?
Yes, it is, although there are no trends telling us about it or what the young generations’ favorite fields are. My daughter Bianca, for instance, is fond of photography. Young people are definitely more contemporary-oriented and with the help of an expert they learn to recognize and appreciate quality and then they start buying according to their budget. Good quality is available in all price segments.

What is the Biennale’s international appeal?
It is still Italy’s most internationally-prominent trade show and this year, owing to the collaboration with the Munich HIGHLIGHTS show, I am sure its international appeal has grown stronger.  


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