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Media spotlight

Genoa’s paper will soon be as punchy as the city’s coffee

By Mario García, Garcia Medía

Those Italian newspapers! Like Italians themselves, they hold special charms that are often hard to describe. Cosmopolitan, yet home grown, a touch of chaos here with glimpses of elegance there; bold yet attractive, and always seductive. Now I am involved in my fourth “makeover” of Genoa’s Il Secolo XIX, a newspaper as full of history as its picturesque city. Soon, there will be a change of format (yes, more piccolo), and a cleaner and leaner look, with information architecture strategies on page one. Inside pages will pack the energetic punch of a morning espresso. As Genoa’s famous son Columbus embarked on a voyage of discovery; Il Secolo XIX is hoping for similar.

Five Italian newspapers:

I like Italian shoes, furniture and gelato. The best newspapers offer similar characteristics to these things: like a pair of Ferragamos, they are a perfect fit when walking into the crazy world of (Berlusconi) politics; like the contemporary Milano white chaise longue at home, they offer a comfort zone; and like the gelato we all crave (or spill) on an August day in Rome, they are colourful and full of flavour – though not as much as the people who populate them.

01 Corriere della Sera, Milan: My favourite – elegant and classy.
02 La Stampa, Turin: Contemporary, less chaotic than the rest, Italy as some Italians would like it.
03 La Repubblica, Rome: A restrained typography, avoiding the many fonts fighting in Roman traffic.
04 Il Piccolo, Trieste: **Regional with an old charm. Picture a young Sophia Loren reading it while auditioning for a part.
**05 Il Secolo XIX, Genoa:
In transition, very local, and revered by its readers.

Growth business Japan [publishing] It wasn’t just Monocle issue 24 that promoted agriculture, a Japanese print boom in agro-mnedia is helping to counter the perception that agriculture in Japan is a badly paid, labour-intensive, future-less industry. But Masachika Ogihara, himself a rice farmer in Nagano Prefecture, knew there were plenty of young farmers working to make their businesses attractive and profitable. So he launched Agrizm, an agriculture magazine featuring young entrepreneur-minded farmers from all over the country. Each section is image-led, busily designed and it even features a (very demure) female centrefold. It has received rave reviews, and with three issues out so far, it commands a circulation of 30,000.

Self-projection

Music videos

MySpace Music has pioneered interactive pop promos in which fans can upload themselves into music videos by chosen artists, including Florence and the Machine, Alicia Keys and 50 Cent. Fans will appear statically: pictures on the wall, perhaps. Monocle is hoping to go retro and appear as the only well-groomed zombie in “Thriller”.

Gate gourmandise

USA [technology]

When you arrive at an airport, have an hour before your connection and you’re hungry, do you grab a bite at the Starbucks in front of you or hold out for the possibility of somewhere better around the corner? A new iPhone app, GateGuru, aims to help. It provides listings and user-generated reviews of places to eat at 85 US airports, with plans to expand worldwide. The idea came to venture capitalist Dan Gellert after a lamentable gastronomic experience at Palm Beach. While Monocle continues to lobby for better airport fare, GateGuru is a real traveller’s friend.

Smut operator

New York/Berlin [film]

The Telephone Book is a dark, comedic, 1971 art-porn classic, revived by two Berlin gallerists. Produced by New York ad guy Merwin Bloch and directed by Nelson Lyon (Bloch is offering a reward for Warhol’s cut cameo), it follows a girl on her quest to find an obscene caller. Godard’s Le Mépris meets Deep Throat in Manhattan, this art-versus-onanism is boxed up with postcards, poster and interviews.
20hoxtonsquare.com

Q&A: Nasser Azam — Founder, Azam Collection

London - Art fund

Following a 23-year career in finance, Pakistan-born artist Nasser Azam left Merrill Lynch in 2008 to focus on his teenage passion for painting. A year later in 2009, he announced a new project, the Azam Collection, a £100m investment fund set up to support and mentor emerging artists.

What do you want to achieve with this collection?
After I re-established myself as an artist, I started working alongside a lot of young and exciting artists, and I started collecting as well. I see this collection growing over the next five to seven years to be one of the most important in the UK. The UK is, and continues to be, at the forefront of the emerging art scene but I will also be focusing on other ascending markets – Korea is a good market at the moment, as is Islamic art.

What specific attributes from your financial career will help with this new venture?
I am in the unique position to mediate between the worlds of finance and art. They don’t fully understand each other. I’ll be in the perfect position to tap the financial market as it stabilises, people are looking at art again as an important asset class.

What about your own art career?
This collection depends on me being an important and relevant artist! I am continuing with my performance painting projects, I am going to Antarctica to do some painting.

How did you decide to make the leap from an incredibly profitable career in banking to rediscover your creative side?
Painting has always been a hobby. I stopped painting but I never stopped being an artist.

I remember a nine-month overlap before I made the decision to leave – I was painting until 4 or 5am, and then going in to work at 8am. With hindsight it’s fortunate the way things have turned out – the passion for painting was always there. It’s worth the sacrifice of a cushy life.

Well hung: our series spotlighting galleries and their owners

Kurimanzutto gallery

Gov Rafael Rebollar 94, Col. San Miguel Chapultepec, Mexico City The Kurimanzutto gallery – founded by Monica Manzutto and José Kuri at the prompting of artist Gabriel Orozco – is a leading light in Mexico’s contemporary scene. “We developed the idea of this gallery without a fixed site but with specific projects in public and private spaces attending to the needs of each artist,” explain the founders.

Late last year the sometime-itinerant gallery opened a new space, designed by architect Alberto Kalach, in a former timberyard in the tree-lined, residential Mexico City neighbourhood of San Miguel Chapultepec. The gallery’s stable is a who’s who of Mexican contemporary artists and includes Abraham Cruzvillegas, Carlos Amorales, Damián Ortega, Dr Lakra, Minerva Cuevas, Jonathan Hernández and Miguel Calderón, among others. Clients range from international contemporary art museums to private collectors both in and outside of Mexico. — TF kurimanzutto.com

Sale: London

The Art of the Surreal

Christie’s London, 2 February 2010

Christie’s will re-introduce its Art of the Surreal sale in London following a sabbatical in 2009. The auction house expects to consign between 25 and 35 lots, including Surrealist and Dada works from Duchamp, Ernst and Dalí. The sale will follow the headlining Modern and Impressionist Art evening sale. “We like to produce our own separate catalogue and we do a black-clad room where you leave the world of Monet and Picasso and enter the Surrealist exhibition darkness,” says Olivier Camu, international director of Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art department.

Hot lots:

01 Yves Tanguy, Sans Titre (Répondre), 1938, estimate £300,000–£400,000
02 René Magritte, Le Baiser, 1957 (above), estimate £600,000­–£800,000

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