Villa e collezione
Born in Milan in March 1923 to Ernesto Panza and Maria Mantegazza, from a young age Giuseppe cultivated his passion for art, which then blossomed fully after he graduated in law. In 1948, following the death of his father and the liquidation of the family's wine-trading business, he threw himself into looking for new investments that would allow him to make the most of his father's estate, which since 1935 had included Villa Menafoglio Litta, in Varese.
In 1954, he headed to the United States, where he came into contact with those at the forefront of abstract expressionism, whose work greatly impressed him. The next year, on his return to Italy, he learned more about the latest European and American trends and began to collect his first pieces, which over the years would go on to enrich the Collezione di Villa Panza. He felt that the villa was the "ideal venue in which to display art", thanks to "its unusual ability to combine the new with the old".
Between 1956 and 1960, Giuseppe Panza was one of the first people to appreciate the art being made by Rauschenberg, Rothko, Kline and Tapies. He was once again ahead of the curve in the year Pop Art was born, 1962, when he acquired his first works by Oldenburg, Rosenquist, Lichtenstein and Segal. Subsequently, with the arrival of the 1970s, his collection, was bolstered through the addition of works by, amongst others, Judd, Serra, Morris, Flavin, Kosuth, Lewitt, Dibbets, Nauman, Irwin, Turrell, Darboven and Long, representing the most recent trends in minimal, conceptual and environmental art. In the 1980s, the time came for a group of monochrome artists including Sims, Simpson and Fredenthal – as well as other names not yet accepted by the critical establishment – to find in the historic rooms of the villa in Biumo a perfect place in which to display their monotone paintings.
Giuseppe Panza di Biumo was a bona fide patron for those artists whom he chose to support, many of whom would only be lauded by critics and the public several years later, and he exerted a very strong influence over the history of art, the art of collecting and the concept of how to display art, not just in Italy but right around the world.