A TALK WITH PEPI MARCHETTI FRANCHI
Photography by Andy Massaccesi
Pepi Marchetti Franchi is director of the Gagosian gallery in Rome since 2007. Over the years the venue has been filled with works by contemporary artists such as Cindy Sherman, Franz West, Yayoi Kusama, Richard Serra, Damien Hirst and many others.
Marchetti Franchi’s relationship with art has roots in her childhood, in the first visit to a museum of the Italian capital that made her realize immediately her life ahead: “working among beautiful things.” That’s how she lands in New York, working at the Guggenheim and then the adventure in one of the most important and prestigious galleries in the world.
We went to Rome to get to know her better.
How did you come close to the art world and how did you end up to be a passionate connoisseur of contemporary art?
I can not forget my first visit to a museum during a school trip in elementary school. It was the moment when I decided that I wanted to work among beautiful things with story behind. It was the years in New York for the MA and then working at the Guggenheim that finally approached me to contemporary art. The art was happening there, next to me.
You have relationships with the most important contemporary artists. Tell us an anecdote that you remember dearly.
Meeting with the artists and working with them is the most exciting part of my job. There are so many memories that hold a special place, but among these a ping pong match with Robert Rauschenberg in his studio in Captiva, Florida, or a visit to the Church of San Francesco a Ripa (Rome) with Walter De Maria.
How was the opening of the Gagosian project and being an Italian who represents an American company in Rome?
A great unexpected adventure. When Larry Gagosian proposed it, I was very skeptical but it did not take me long to realize that it was a good idea: the emotion to work in a city like Rome, between architectural excellence, art and archeology is unmatched for an artist. Having found a unique space with an unexpected architecture has also been a key ingredient to the success of this adventure.
What were the differences you’ve noticed after your experiences in the States, moving back to Italy?
In America, if you are capable and you try very hard you can get anywhere, even me, being in a foreign country and not knowing anyone, after a year I had a contract at Guggeneheim. For a young person is a panorama of a thousand opportunities. You can always count on Americans’ word. In Italy it very popular the “I said to say” but it is also true the opposite: a no can always turn in a yes!
What is the idea behind the project Gagosian Rome? What are the objectives for a city like Rome, so strongly rooted in the classical culture, in the contemporary art field?
The gallery was born from the fact that Rome and Italy represent a unique experience for an artist. Having a space here allows us to give our artists a great gift, bringing them in another dimension, recharging their batteries and their creativity. For example, it was very interesting to propose to John Currin to exhibit in Florence or Thomas Houseago at the Galleria Borghese.
What is “being Italian” today and how you live it personally?
It seems to me that the Italian character has made a great leap forward. From gastronomy to fashion the last years have seen us protagonists more than ever.
When did you have the first contact with Mutina? What has impressed you most?
I knew first Massimo Orsini of which struck me the passion, curiosity and attention to quality – features that I seem to see reflected strong and clear in company.
One of the fundamental aspects of Mutina is the collaboration with designers internationally renowned. Which artist do you think might work with the company?
All those who make the invention and experiment their field of investigation.