- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 2, 2008

Presented next to “The Panza Collection” are earlier abstract paintings and sculptures from the Hirshhorn’s holdings of nearly 12,000 artworks. They were chosen by Italian art patrons Giuseppe and Giovanna Panza as part of the museum’s ongoing series of exhibitions called “Ways of Seeing.”

As guest curators of this show, the Panzas went back to their roots in selecting the type of color-saturated paintings they first collected in the 1950s, including canvases by Spanish artist Antonio Tapies and Americans Mark Rothko and Robert Rauschenberg. The two even suggested how to illuminate the Rothkos, with light reflected off the walls and ceiling rather than directed onto the canvas.

Surprisingly, they only selected two works by artists not represented in their own collection: a pale painting by the late New Mexican minimalist, Agnes Martin, and Constantin Brancusi’s 1924 sculpture “Torso of a Young Man.”

As for the Italians’ own collection, most of it remains in storage with about 200 pieces displayed in an 18th-century villa north of Milan. The 85-year-old Mr. Panza, who was surveying the exhibit last week from a wheelchair, said he and his wife are still acquiring contemporary artworks but not pieces by well-known names such as Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons. He prefers “potent austerity” over such “postmodern” work.

“We agree on all purchases or we don’t buy,” said Mrs. Panza, who accompanied her husband as well as son Alessandro and daughter Giuseppina. “We like the same things. We are very fortunate.”

- Deborah K. Dietsch

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