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Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu didn’t set out to amass one of the largest collections of postwar Italian artworks in the world – but they didn’t resist it, either. Instead, like Michelangelo Pistoletto’s Sfera di giornali (1966-2017) rolled newspaper ball, they picked up impressions (and pieces) as they went, art accreting to life, and vice versa.
During a trip to Italy in 1993, Olnick and Spanu followed the advice of a Roman gallerist and ventured to Turin – the historical center of Arte Povera – to see a landmark exhibition at the Castello di Rivoli. ‘Un'avventura internazionale: Torino e le arti 1950-1970’ offered a cross-section of the movement’s biggest names. The couple was instantly smitten – she by the works’ willingness to grapple with big questions, he by their dialogue with his home country’s centuries of history. Some of their favorite pieces now in their collection are alumni of this show.
Olnick and Spanu acquired a former computer warehouse and in 2017 opened Magazzino Italian Art near their home in Cold Spring, New York, to share a tidy edit of their holdings. Welcoming scholars as well as the public, Magazzino makes a neat triumvirate with two other nearby Hudson River Valley institutions: Dia:Beacon, with its complementary collection of 1960s and 1970s minimal and conceptual works, and Storm King Art Center, the 500-acre sculpture park in Cornwall. In this intimate interview, Olnick and Spanu share highlights of their collection presented at Magazzino Italian Art, in the serene space designed by architect Miguel Quismondo.