Almost immediately, the history of the palazzo was marked by various vicissitudes, starting with the collapse of the Grassi family fortune, which would result in a number of changes in the building’s layout. In 1840 the brothers Angelo and Domenico Grassi made over the palace to the Società Veneta Commerciale, owned by Spiridione Papadopoli. He sold it four years later to the opera singer Antonio Poggi, a great interpreter of Italian Romantic works. Soon after, Poggi sold it to a Hungarian painter, Józsej Agost Schöfft. After his death in 1850, Schöfft’s second wife, Giuseppina Lindlau, opened it as a hotel (the Hôtel de la Ville), a fate suffered in this period by many of the old palaces lining the Grand Canal. There was a new change of ownership in 1857, following the building’s purchase by baron Simeone de Sina, a Greek financier living in Venice; he was responsible for various important changes to the structure and internal decor. In 1908, de Sina’s heirs sold the palazzo to the Swiss industrialist, Giovanni Stucky. Following the death of his son Giancarlo in 1943, the building passed into the hands of another important Venetian industrialist and financier, Vittorio Cini, who sold it in 1949. The palace was bought by a property company which, two years later, installed an international art and costume centre within its walls.
From Gianni Agnelli to François Pinault
Palazzo Grassi was bought in 1983 by the Fiat group, which commissioned the Milanese architect Gae Aulenti to refurbish it as an exhibition space. From 1983 to 2005 Palazzo Grassi, administered by a FIAT management team personally selected by Gianni Agnelli, was internationally renowned for its art exhibitions. Under the aegis of a series of exceptional directors (Pontus Hulten, Paolo Viti and others), Palazzo Grassi presented ambitious and well-attended shows, notably those devoted to great civilizations of the past (for example, the Etruscans, the Mayans, and the Celts). Following the death of Gianni Agnelli, FIAT chose to terminate its involvement. In May 2005 François Pinault decided to take over Palazzo Grassi.
Located in Campo San Samuele and overlooking the Canal Grande, Palazzo Grassi presents major temporary exhibitions, some of which are based in whole or in part from the François Pinault Collection.
From June 6th 2009, Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana present the exhibition Mapping the Studio which brings together a selection of works from the collection of François Pinault and rebuilt the course of each, from conception to the inner world of the artist, up to the integration with the private collection.François Pinault
François Pinault was born on August 21, 1936, in Champs-Géraux in Brittany. He established his first wood business in Rennes in 1963. Subsequently, he widened the scope of his activities in different sectors.
In 1999, PPR had become third largest firm in the luxury-goods sector world-wide, after acquiring the Gucci Group (Gucci, Yves Saint-Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Sergio Rossi, Boucheron, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, and Balenciaga).
In 1992, he created Artemis, a private company entirely owned by the Pinault family. Artemis controls the Château-Latour vineyard in Bordeaux, the news magazine Le Point and the daily newspaper l’Agefi. François Pinault also controls the auction house Christie’s, a world leader in the art market, as well as being a controlling shareholder in the Bouygues Group and Vinci.
François Pinault is also the owner of a French premiere league football team, Stade Rennais Football Club, and of the Théâtre Marigny in Paris.
In 2003, François Pinault entrusts his group to his son François-Henri Pinault.
A great lover of art, and one of the largest collectors of contemporary art in the world, François Pinault has decided to share his passion with the greatest number of people possible. In May 2005, he acquired the prestigious Palazzo Grassi in Venice, where he presented a part of his collection during three exhibitions: Where Are We Going?, Post-Pop, and Sequence 1.
In June 2007 François Pinault was selected by the City of Venice to undertake the transformation of Punta della Dogana into a new center for contemporary art, where his collection will be on permanent display. Renovated by Tadao Ando, Punta della Dogana opened the 6th of June 2009.
Solicited by many municipalities, public and private institutions, François Pinault also presents a part of his collection outside of Venice, for instance, the exhibition Passage du Temps at the Tri Postal in Lille (2007), Un certain Etat du Monde? at the Melnikov Garage in Moscow (2009) and Qui a peur des artistes? at Dinard in Brittany (2009).
He was nominated President of the Comité Français in October 2008 and appointed International Adviser to the candidate selection committee for the 2009 Praemium Imperiale. François Pinault was named the most influential person in the world of contemporary art for two years running (2006 and 2007) by the magazine Art Review.
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