Vicente Todolí: Museums will have to be rescued or they will be very ill

Art specialist and consultant Vicente Todolí, artistic director of the Pirelli HangarBicocca in Milan, EFE / Natxo Francés (Natxo Frances /)

Palmera (Valencia), August 9 (EFE) .- Art specialist and consultant Vicente Todolí, artistic director of the Pirelli HangarBicocca in Milan, guarantees that the large museums that depend on the public “are in great crisis and will have to be rescued or they will have a very bad time. “
For the former director of Tate Modern in London, museums should be considered a public service, as they are, in his opinion, “a hospital for the soul”.
Todolí reflects in a conversation with Efe about the present and the future of art, also affected by the coronavirus crisis, and is very skeptical about the possibility that this will produce a change in mentality “because people have a fish memory” and “tendency to forget.” The real test – he says – will be done when the vaccine arrives “.
POST-COVID MUSEUMS
“I would like to start valuing the diverse and not the standard, which is what art is, after all,” he guarantees, but considers that it will be necessary to wait about four years to see “what all this has become”.
As a positive effect, he is grateful that the belief that a museum is measured in numbers by ticket sales has been dismantled. “It was always false, but while you won you won and the museums got bigger and bigger, with more extensions”, he laments.
“A museum is an intermediary between art and the public, but above all it is at the service of art, and the moment you depend on income and quantity, they no longer serve art if they don’t use it to be bigger, make extensions, have more staff ”, he says.
A LIFE DEDICATED TO ART
And it is this philosophy that permeated his more than 30 years of experience in the world of art, where he held, among many other positions, the artistic direction of IVAM, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art as its founding director in 1996 and the direction of Tate Modern (2003-2010).
He is currently an advisor to several museums and foundations, including the Botín Foundation, the INELCOM collection in Madrid and is the artistic director of the Pirelli Hangar Bicocca and Bombas Gens foundation in Valencia.
He combines this dedication with one of his most proud private projects, the Todolí Citrus Foundation, which operates an orchard with a collection of 400 varieties of citrus in his hometown, Palmera (Valencia), his “private museum” that became a gastronomic research and experimentation center under the guidance of the prestigious chef Ferran Adrià.
“A museum should be considered a public service, because it is a hospital for the soul, just like science”, defends in a conversation in his garden, a small “paradise of the senses” next to the Mediterranean that has become his home and work space .
THE DIFFICULT BALANCE OF A MUSEUM
He laments that museums “have become dependent on the market because governments realized that art was in fashion and that it was possible to make money”. “Until a time like this comes”, he warns, “when there is no more money on ticket sales, sponsorship falls” and considers that “just as banks had to be rescued, now museums have to be rescued”.
He also criticizes the fact that artists are wanted to take people to museums because in the end “it is the snake that bites its tail”. “Artists are better known because they have more exhibitions because they bring people, and those who are not known are ignored,” he says.
Todolí has ​​always defended the contrary and the bases he advises are committed to high-level, but unknown, artists, thus breaking this “vicious circle”.
He reports that when Pirelli HangarBicocca in Milan hired him, he told them: “You sell tires, not art; be generous, if they do it for free, if someone has doubts and likes art, they will buy a Pirelli first, even if it is more expensive, because you are doing this work. “
He guarantees that he had important offers, but he always refused to work in the more commercial world and opted for non-profit projects with the exception of exhibitions of the legacies of Sigmar Polke and Juan Muñoz. But he establishes conditions: “The galleries have to assume that this is an almost museum project, and I am in charge of choosing the works, the format and the assembly”.
Also, there are no commercial purposes. “In Polke’s case, there was only one work for sale and about 50 works on display,” he recalls.
YOUR FUTURE PROJECTS
One of his next projects is the individual exhibition “Six rooms” of Juan Muñoz’s work at the prestigious David Zwirner art gallery in Chelsea (New York), which he announced a few weeks ago that will exclusively represent the heritage of the Spanish sculptor.
The show, which will include six major installations that the artist carried out between 1986 and 2001, was scheduled for last May, but was postponed by Covid-19 until spring 2021, says Todolí, the show’s curator.
Eva Battle

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