Starstruck by Keith Haring
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Starstruck by Keith Haring

HAVING FALLEN IN LOVE WITH ART DURING HIGH SCHOOL, ALUMNUS BRUNO BOLFO IS NOW A PROFESSIONAL ART COLLECTOR WHO HAS CREATED PARTICLE, A CULTURAL PRODUCTION COMPANY THAT COMBINES PHYSICAL AND DIGITAL ART. FIRST PROJECT: FRAGILITY, FOR WHICH HE COLLABORATED WITH THE CULTURIT BOCCONI STUDENT ASSOCIATION


He fell in love with art in high school, thanks to a class lecture on Keith Haring, the 1980s graffiti pioneer. Since then, the spark has never faded. Bruno Bolfo, 37 years old and MSc in General Management in 2007 from Bocconi, soon began to collect art works. Today he is not only a collector and one of the founders of the ICA Foundation in Milan in 2018, but he is also an art entrepreneur with his own project, Particle, which mixes physical and digital art in a new 'phygital' form of fruition. Particle's first project, started in recent weeks, grapples with doing a project across Italy and Malaysia that revolves around the concept of fragility. 

"Since that lesson at school, art has become my passion, although, for obvious budget reasons, at first I could only afford emerging artists. In the meantime, I enrolled at Bocconi because my original idea was to join the family company, which at the time operated in the steel industry ". After graduation he worked at J.P. Morgan, in the M&A department and, while on business trips to New York City, he spent his free time wandering around the art galleries. It was during that period that he seriously became a collector: "I don't buy based on my gut instinct, I try to understand, by studying an artist’s works, if that artist will continue to instill emotions over time". 

After the experience in the American investment bank, there was work for the family business, rising to head of the sales division and then came the decision to devote himself fully to his enduring passion. In 2019 he was among the five founders of the ICA Foundation in Milan, an institute of contemporary art active not only in the organization of exhibits but also in a series of transversal projects (it was nominated by Artribune as that year’s best non-profit association). 

But it was with the Particle project, at the end of that year, that Bruno Bolfo also developed his own personal business related to art. "Particle's idea is that we need to use digital art in a new, different way. Not to transpose art from a physical space to a digital one, but as a boost to bring people closer to art by creating a reality which is complementary to the physical one". A 'phygital whole’ in which the two different components are not mutually exclusive, but in constant dialogue. 

The first project undertaken by Particle is developed together with the Italian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where Bolfo had a contact through a relative. The project initially included a joint exhibit by four Italian and four Malaysian artists (later postponed due to Covid) and a series of activities involving the economic, academic, institutional and art communities of the two countries. "The underlying theme of the project is fragility, a concept that everyone experienced directly over the last year". 

As for the relationship with academia, the Fragility project "emphasizes how art can be important for creating empathy in young people, especially in this historical moment", explains the alumnus. The result was a collaboration with the Culturit Bocconi student association and with the University of Kuala Lumpur which resulted in a set of talks on the topic (one of these, held on March 25, saw the participation of Bocconi Professor Paola Cillo). 

It is through Particle and Fragility that Bruno Bolfo is developing his personal vision of art which in essence is one of fluidity between the real and the digital worlds. The art market itself, among other things, is in full transformation thanks to the boom in digital art. "Thanks to technological developments, the art sector is experiencing enormous change", concludes Bolfo. "This will allow us to do more and more engaging things and to open art more and more to the public. It will also be an opportunity to create new business models".  


by Andrea Celauro
Translated by Alex Foti


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