Starting an art collection is often looked at as a daunting endeavor reserved for the few. yoox.com asked some of Italy’s most daring art collectors to tell us about their experience in the world of art, an exciting universe which offers both intellectual and emotional rewards. Be inspired!

Ernesto Esposito is a great shoe designer, known worldwide for his beautiful creations. He is also a big Contemporary Art collector. He started his collection in the Seventies, when he fell in love with a piece by Andy Warhol. Since that day, he continued buying art according to his very personal taste and idiosyncrasies. Today, all of his works coexist in a kaleidoscopic mix of classic Contemporary artworks by Cy Twombly and Damien Hirst with paintings by emerging artists such as Sam Falls. However, his craving for art is still very strong…

  • When did you start your collection? Do you remember the first artwork you bought?
  • I began collecting when I was 20, during the fabulous Seventies. The first work I bought was a silk-screen painting by Andy Warhol, “The Electric Chair”. Legendary Neapolitan gallerist Lucio Amelio allowed me to pay by installments. At the time, 30,000 liras every month was a big sum for me!
  • How do you choose the works you purchase for your collection? Do you follow any rules or are you guided by your instinctive feelings?
  • I can’t refrain from buying the art I like. It gives me such a rush. It is a real ‘possessive’ instinct which is only restrained by the fact that one has to be able to afford it.
  • What are the Contemporary art fairs you try not to miss? What other artistic places do you like spending time in?
  • I love London’s Frieze because it allows you to spend some days between the fair, auctions and gallery shopping. I am also fascinated by Artissima in Turin, which is perfectly organized and has great exhibition spaces. I am very bored by museums and don’t like big retrospectives or shows. When I decide to go to a museum, I choose classic ones such as the Louvre in Paris or the Tate in London.
  • Which work is still missing in your collection?
  • Steven Shearer’s portrait of a red haired woman looking sideways. I can’t find it anywhere!
  • Do you have a favorite piece in your collection?
  • The favorite piece is always the last one you buy. Just like a newborn baby in a family.
  • How do people become collectors ? What advice would you give to people who wish to start collecting? Which artists do you consider interesting for young collectors to keep an eye on?
  • The main problem with collecting today is that many people become collectors with the same attitude of those who, in the past, played tennis just because it was cool. I often hear people talking about how hard it is to get a painting by this or that artist. Instead, I’d like to hear about the emotion of getting a painting you like. There are many interesting artists at the moment, but do you think it is correct that a Dan Colen of three years ago costs more than a historic Baselitz? I don’t, although I do like Colen. To discover artists of the moment, just skim through the first ten pages of morning auction catalogs, the ones that offer works with apparently affordable prices (although at this point you’re already late!). They usually reach record prices, and those artists become the new stars. You can’t not own them, otherwise you end up feeling stupid. Or is it the other way around?