Interviews

Meet LA’s Art Community: Pietro Rigolo’s Work on the Harald Szeemann Archives; “It’s Been 10 Years of My Life”

An interview series spotlighting some of the great work coming out of Los Angeles. Hear directly from artists, curators, and art workers about their current projects and personal quirks.

Pietro Rigolo (photo by Riccardo Banfi)

Welcome to the 13th installment of the interview series Meet LA’s Art Community. Check out our past interviews here.

This week, we interview Pietro Rigolo, who is currently the assistant curator of Modern and Contemporary Collections at the Getty Research Institute (GRI). He has been at the GRI since 2013, when he was hired to research the archive of the famous curator Harald Szeemann. In addition to that project and co-curating the exhibition Harald Szeemann: Museum of Obsessions, Rigolo has also catalogued the archives of Barbara T. Smith, Maurice Tuchman, Juan Fassio, and of the Margo Leavin Gallery. Rigolo earned a Doctorate in Art History from Università degli Studi di Siena / Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane. He earned his Master’s at Istituto Universitario di Architettura in Venice, Italy.

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Where were you born? 

I was born in Pordenone, a small Italian town close to the border with Austria and Slovenia.

How long have you been living in Los Angeles? 

It’s been a little more than seven years now.

What’s your first memory of seeing art? 

My first memory of seeing art actually overlaps with my first memory of being given a hint of my sexuality: it’s seeing the Riace Bronzes when I was maybe seven or eight, and feeling overwhelmed and deeply confused by their beauty. I still remember the visit like it was yesterday: entering that room in the National Museum in Reggio Calabria, first seeing them from behind, then moving around them, and looking at their faces.

Do you like to photograph the art you see? If so, what device do you use to photograph? 

I do not particularly like or care about photographing the art I see. I just do it for future reference, and I photograph more labels than actual works of art. Boring, I know. I only use my phone.

What was your favorite exhibition in Los Angeles this year? 

Difficult to pick only one! Among the museum ones, I’d say Outliers and American Vanguard Art at LACMA, Soul of a Nation at the Broad, and No Wrong Holes: Thirty Years of Nayland Blake at the ICA. Among the ones at commercial galleries, I’d pick Yutaka Matsuzawa at Nonaka-Hill, Laura Owens at Matthew Marks, and John Boskovich at O-Town House. Those were, for me, the most surprising, and the ones I’ve learnt the most from.

What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

Roberto Bolaño’s Amulet, during the holidays.

Do you prefer to see art alone or with friends? 

I actually enjoy both experiences. I’d rather be with few friends or with my partner, but I don’t mind being alone.

What are you currently working on? 

I am looking at the very large French Lettrist and Situationist holdings here at the Getty Research Institute (GRI) where I work, and considering them for a research project or an exhibition. In terms of acquisitions, I am working on several local archives in LA.

What is one accomplishment that you are particularly proud of? 

Certainly, all the things I have done around the Harald Szeemann archive. I started with my PhD dissertation back in Italy, and went on contributing to the cataloging of the archive, the exhibition, and the two books we published here at the GRI; it’s been 10 years of my life.

Where do you turn to for inspiration for your projects? 

I try to see and experience as much as I can. Ideas can come from everything really, if you stay open and curious.

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