"We Gave A Party for the Gods", work by John Giorno, installed in the Castello di Brolio and selected by collector Luziah Hennessy for the Art of the Treasure Hunt route. Photo: Disclosure

The region of Chianti Classico, one of the most sophisticated wines in Italy, in Tuscany, since the beginning of July is the scene of an unusual journey of works of contemporary art, called ATH – Art of the Treasure Hunt (art of treasure hunting). This year's theme is women in tuscany, but the production of names like Robert Wilson and John Giorno are also part of the schedule.

In its fifth edition, this contemporary art tour ranges from two wineries with works installed especially for the 2023 version, to other spaces that already have a consolidated collection, such as Castello di Ama, with stellar names such as Louise Bourgeois, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Anish Kapoor, among others. The complete itinerary can be accessed at www.artthunt.com.

The person responsible for ATH is the collector Luziah Hennessy, who since 2016 has been choosing artists and spaces for the route. Living between Florence and a country house in Tuscany, it was because she knew the region well that she started the project. “I always indicated to my friends what could be seen around here and I discovered how much contemporary art there was in the area”, she recalls, in an interview with arte!brasileiros, at his home in the village of Gaiole in Chianti, a commune of around 2.300 inhabitants.

Ceramic sculpture by the Italian artist Marta Pierobon installed in the room of the Castelo di Brolio where, in 1863, Vittorio Emanuelle II, the first king of Italy, slept. Photo: Fabio Cypriano

The opening of the route took place on the weekend of June 30th and July 1st and 2nd, with a group of collectors, including the Argentinean based in Brazil Frances Reynold, president of the Inclusartiz Institute, who visited public and private collections in Florence and in Tuscany. Hennessy takes the opportunity to raise funds for philanthropic institutions with the guests. In 2023, she raised around R$220 for the Walkabout Foundation, which provides wheelchairs to those in need.

The opening weekend coincides with one of the most important events in Tuscany, the Palio de Siena, a horse race with a millenary tradition. It has been taking place since the 17th century, and in it the XNUMX neighborhoods of the city – the contradas – compete for first place. “I organize it at this time because of the agenda of major contemporary art events in Europe and to have one more reason to visit the region”, explains Hennessy. 


The heart of the route is in the Castello di Brolio and Fèlsina wineries, but it is in the former where most of the new works are installed. Founded in 1141, Brolio is impressive not only for its medieval architecture but also for its history. In 1863, Vittorio Emanuelle II, the first king of Italy, stayed there, and his room can be visited today. In this room, in a fireplace and next to the bed, ceramic sculptures by the Italian artist Marta Pierobon are installed. “I didn't make them exactly for this exhibition, but I thought they would make sense here”, said, in fluent Portuguese, the artist.

In another space with less pomp, but no less impressive, there are works by six artists from different generations, including Brazilian ones. Lia D Castro and Jac Leirner. Also part of Hennessy's selection are the Spanish June Crespo, the Cuban Diana Fonseca, the Korean Jennie Jieun Lee and the German based in the United States Kiki Smith. Lia's canvases were chosen by Hennessy when she was in Brazil earlier this year. “I believe that she will still be an artist with great projection”, predicts the collector, who repeats a statement by the artist to everyone: “There are two types of marriage: the long-term one, and the short-term one, which is with sex workers”.

In the exhibition, Lia, who uses prostitution as a tool for her artistic work, which even shocked the collectors present, is seen in four canvases that portray one of her clients, Davi, who also signs all the canvases. “For me it is very important to work with the memory of the presentation, and not of the representation, since for Frantz Fanon's psychoanalysis, representation is a form of destruction”, said the artist at her home, last May. Thus, Davi ends up doing a kind of co-authorship of the work, choosing from the color palette to leave traces in the work, such as sperm or pieces of clothing.

Ceramic sculpture by Italian artist Marta Pierobon placed in the fireplace at Castello di Brolio, one of the venues for the Art of the Treasure Hunt 2023 route. Photo: Fabio Cypriano

In Fèlsina, Hennessy presents four artists: the Russian Alexandra Sukhareva, Marta Pierobon, the only one to occupy both spaces, Aidan Salakhova, from Azerbaijan, and the American Bob Wilson. While in Brolio the works were arranged in habitable spaces in the castle, in Fèlsina they are exhibited in the winery itself, in cellars where the wine is stored in dozens of barrels for maturation, creating an unusual contrast, such as the mantle created by Salakhova, made of marble from Carrara, where the artist currently lives. 


In addition to these two spaces, the route includes other wineries that already have permanent art collections, as is the case of Castello di Ama, a kind of local Inhotim, as the artists created impressive installations for the place itself.

Since 1999, 16 artists have been commissioned to produce works for the space, including the Frenchman Daniel Buren, the Italian Michelangelo Pistoletto, the Indian Anish Kapoor and the Cuban Carlos Garaicoa. One of his most curious works is his, I don't want to see more of my neighbors, made in 2006, composed of several miniatures of famous walls that impose limits such as the Great Wall of China. The dialogue with the region is quite obvious, as many constructions in the region are themselves surrounded by large medieval walls, as is the case with Radda Castle, home to another important winery.

Another highlight of the collection was created by Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010), who, with the help of an assistant, went to the location, took several photos, and the French naturalized American designed an installation for the winery. topiary it is a sculpture that can be seen through a crack inside the cellar, in the form of a seated woman, but her body forms a rose, from which water flows.

Screens by Brazilian artist Lia D Castro, at Castello di Brolio, her first exhibition in Italy. Photo: Disclosure

In addition to public places, the opening weekend participants visited two private collections, one in Florence, by the British Christian Levett, which brings together a large collection of women artists, among them Elaine de Kooning (1918-1989), Mira Schendel ( 1919-1988), Louise Bourgeois and Tracey Emin. Several of these works were acquired from the auction of the collection of singer George Michael.

The second private collection visited was the Swiss Suzanne Syz, who in the 1980s lived in New York and became friends with iconic figures of contemporary art, such as Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel and Francesco Clemente, all exhibited in her home on the outskirts of Siena, along with other more recent artists, such as the Italian Francesco Jodice, the Swiss Silvie Fleury and the German Carsten Höller. “Collecting is supporting young artists and I do it with my heart”, defended Suzanne to the group, next to Warhol's portrait of her and her son Marc. Definitely, it's not just quality wine that you can find in Tuscany. ✱

*Fabio Cypriano traveled at the invitation of the Art of the Treasure Hunt organization

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