Design & Decoration S01 ep5: Carlo Orsi, Orsi Antiques, [Milian]
Interview with Carlo Orsi
After the Pope, the Vatican was a great collector and they asked for religious art mainly, and Italy again is different because in Naples the Borbola family, that was again the Farnese great sponsors of art. Up north the Gonzaga, the Trevuzio lots of very important families who were patrons of art. In Rome again even the great family like Colonna, Corsini, Pignatelli, those were great collectors…
KM: What is Carlo Orsi?
Well it started here in Milan. My father was in the same business, although he
actually studied to be a chemist but changed to art. I don't know why because
sometimes we have to move to the right side of your personality and even for
me I studied to be an architect so I went to University so I studied to be an
architect for restoration or monuments and buildings and I decided to do this
business because I am totally free and I like to be free; I like to travel, I like
Art. I learnt quite a lot from the taste of my father, which was a great taste - a
KM: When your father was doing this in the 50's was he looking for
predominantly Italian Renaissance pieces or was he looking for everything?
Everything, Renaissance, Baroque, Roccoco, Maolica, Bronze, Commode ...
The art world in Italy is very... it is not concentrated in only one place like
perhaps in Paris. Each part of Italy is full of art made in that place. So you can
find in Milan furniture from the north of Italy, in Veneto which is close there is
Venitian style which is different, In Turin again close to France you can find
you find another style of art and again when you go to Bologna or Florence or
Rome or Sicily there are different kinds of style. It is very interesting - it is
much more eclectic.
KM: Is it more difficult then to be a dealer in Italian art than it is to be a dealer
in French period art?
Yes because French art is much more famous in the world. In Italy it is not so
easy. We have laws, which they are not very good for the dealers, not easy to
export the pieces.
KM: Ah because of the fact that of theft of national treasures.
In fact if you want to buy now something from me I have to declare customs
that I am selling this piece and I have to declare to the Sovereign State of the
Arts which is a government department for art that I sold to you a Maolica 100
year old so I have to wait a month to get permission to be able to sell to you
KM: If we were going to say the most exact, the most perfect example, of
Italian art that is equivalent to Louis Cannes what would that be?
I think the Medici family.
KM: The Medici were they equivalent of the King?
Yes, in the Renaissance period mainly. After the Pope, the Vatican was a
great collector and they asked for religious art mainly, and Italy again is
different because in Naples the Borbola family, that was again the Farnese
great sponsors of art. Up north the Gonzaga, the Trevuzio lots of very
important families who were patrons of art. In Rome again even the great
family like Colonna, Corsini, Pignatelli, those were great collectors…
KM: Yes but could they compare to what Louis.....
No, no I think that the only one could be the Medici family, starting in the
KM: But the Renaissance also influenced the French period.
Influenced even French people with the family called the Fontenaue yes was
very important for the art world. Lots of Italian artists went to the French court
or to the German court. One of the greatest makers for rock crystal object d'art
came from Milan and the name of this man is Mizerolli - he is better known in
Prague for his art than in Milan. They made fantastic object d'art that you can
see in Vienna now, or in Paris - rock crystal or Lapis Lazuli.
You can see objects from Renzo they are so funny, so incredibly made and
fantasy - and Italy for that for fantasy they have enough if you can see
furniture the renaissance of Baroque they are designed by artists who are
extremely eclectic. On the French side they were perfect manufacturers in
perfect style and well done, with material.... perfect yes.
On the other hand the Italians they are more associated with the idea -
conceptualisation - the eclectic side of the brain.
KM: How do you compare your taste with your fathers taste?
My father doesn't like to travel and that is the big difference. What I like to do
is going away all the time, looking in museums and at people and looking at
everything - this is very important. My taste is different because at one point I
opened my mind and in a different side of my fathers mind.
KM: How do you choose your objects - what is your criteria?
Mostly my research is pieces I like a lot - which have a good feeling. My gallery
is not full of stuff just for the sake of it. I have very few pieces - that is the way
A recent acquisition was a painting by Bronzino - we talked about him before.
It was a new discovery at one point of a painting by Bronzino with Madonna
and child and you can find the copy in the National Gallery in London - this was
the original though not a copy.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Carlo Orsi, Orsi Antiques, Milian