Richard Fremantle and collecting contemporary art in Tuscany

Richard Fremantle and collecting contemporary art in Tuscany
In collaboration with IMT Lucca and the Fremantle Collection 
July 16-17, 2021

Richard Fremantle and the Collection of Contemporary Art in Tuscany

Two days of study and in-depth analysis – 16-17 July 2021

IMT – Scuola Alti Studi Lucca (LU), Palazzo Museo Bourbon del Monte, Monte Santa Maria TIberina (PG)

Emanuele Carlenzi & Ginevra Ludovici

Commemorating the third anniversary of Richard Fremantle’s passing, these two days of study will celebrate Richard Fremantle (1936-2018), scholar, collector and patron, focusing on his passion for contemporary arts in Tuscany from the second half of the twentieth century to the first years of the twenty-first.

After studying History of Art in the United States, he received a specialisation in Renaissance art in Florence, centring on the figure of Masaccio.

Unlike the stereotypical character of the art historian who lives the influence of the ‘Bel Paese’ behind the spell of the ‘Grand Tour’, he soon realised that Tuscany had great potential for a more ambitious career, where relations could we woven, support and friendship could be given to and received from fellow artists, and a collection be created. It is following this dream that in 2005 he founded the Fremantle Foundation for Foreign Artists (FFAST) in Fiesole, just north-east of the city of Florence, choosing Villa Peyron as his headquarters. From the start, his mission was clear: he desired to establish a repertoire that united the production of foreign art in Tuscany especially British and American but open to all, from the twentieth century without rules or restrictions on what medium the artist chose to use for their work, as well as providing a comfortable space for artists in residence. The setting he wanted to bring to life was a cultural institution that pushed the limits of the classic museum centre: an institution built around detailed study of the contemporary focused on the interaction between artists, scholars, researchers, and students. The Fremantle collection houses today over seven hundred pieces and a hundred and fifty artists, ranging indistinctly between painting, drawing, sculpture, photography and mixed visual media, featuring renowned names such as Ben Long and Elisabeth Chaplin and less known, but not less interesting, names like Maja Einstein Winteler, Rose Shakinovsky and Maria Gamundi. The collection, whilst being an enormous testimony to the visual expression and artistic taste of this period, also reveals a specific interest in the arts from a female approach.

The transfer of the collection to the Palazzo Museo Bourbon del Monte in the Umbrian town of Monte Santa Maria Tiberina, strongly supported by his heir Oskar Baines Fremantle who has assiduously dedicated himself to the conservation and appreciation of Fremantle’s work, will be honoured in these two days of learning.

The first day, at IMT – Scuola Alti Studi Lucca, aims to explore the poliedric figure of Richard Fremantle, art historian, collector and philanthropist, with the aim to understand his personality set against the backdrop of the wider context of foreign collection in Italy and Toscany; there will be an in-depth analysis of some of the distinctive features of his artistic acquisitions through laboratory sessions and workshops organised in the Palazzo Bourbon del Monte, and so allowing a direct study of the works in the setting that houses them.