Prominent Art Collector Valeria Napoleone Vows to Purchase, Donate, and Display More Works By Female Artists

Italian-born and London-based art collector Valeria Napoleone already owns one of the world’s largest and most important collections of works by contemporary female artists, and it’s no wonder — she has spent the past 20 years, and hundreds of thousands of dollars, amassing some 300 paintings, photographs, and sculptures. Yet she still feels the need to do more for women in the art world.

“Things have been changing for the better and we have more and more women in terms of museums and galleries but still they are so far behind,” Napoleone told the London Evening Standard. She has made a public pledge to buy one piece every year from a living female artist and donate it to the permanent collections of a U.K. museum — a project she has dubbed “XX.”

Part of her private collection is also scheduled to go on display for the first time ever this month. Although today, some 71% of collectors have purchased art online, most of Napoleone’s collecting was done the old-fashioned way, by visiting galleries.

“It started when I was in New York in 1997 and was very much aware of the discrimination against women, lack of representation in museums and galleries and the lack of support,” Napoleone said. “From the moment I bought my first artwork I said to myself, ‘I’m going to create a collection.’ I’m a feminist and I believed so much of the work was so relevant and should be seen.”

Now it will. Her “Going Public” exhibition, featuring highlights of her collection from artists such as Monica Bonvicini, Tomma Abts, Mai-Thu Perret, and Margherita Manzelli, will open at the Graves Gallery in Sheffield, England, on July 15 and remain through October. The exhibition will then be installed at Touchstones Rochdale in Greater Sheffield, where it will stay from December through March.

Each show, Napoleone said in a statement, “shares my goals of supporting realities which are too often overlooked by the mainstream and creating a catalyst for change.”

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