Friday, October 28, 2011

Collector Profile Luigi Bergomi

Luigi Bergomi
By Lev Alimov

By Walter Valentini

By Toni Pecoraro

By Yuri Borovitsky

By Viola Tycz
As a child, I remember I was an active, though quite disorganized, collector: football players cards primarily but also coins, a herbarium and so on. As I grew older, I started reading a lot of books: collecting them became a natural extension. At a certain point in my life I thought I had read “all the books ever being written”; a friend of mine showed me some reproductions of graphic works by a German artist member of the Wandervogel. The subject of the wayfarer intrigued me a lot and that time and still does it now. I suddenly decided to utilize one of Sluyterman’s images as my first ex libris, which I had printed in offset in 1985.

I then inundated the mailboxes of all the collectors to whom I proudly sent several copies of my first ex libris. The response was overwhelming and, as the story goes, the rest is history…

I consider the contemporary ex libris a way to commission high-end “personal” art from an artist. One of the things I find fascinating about ex libris is the fact that their size and “canon” often force the artist to make an extra effort in compressing, within a somewhat defined and generally small range, a shared story and inspiration, creativity, great technique and calligraphy: defying the general perception present on the marketplace, this unique aspect (that is, the intimate shared introspection between artist and patron), if anything, makes an ex libris even more valuable than a corresponding free graphic, at least to my eyes.
Commissioning a new edition in my name is often a long process: I rarely attend meetings and congresses and as a result correspond with the artists and patiently wait for their creation. I normally request and receive a first proof or a sketch without name engraved on the plate; upon my approval the final edition gets shipped to me. Sometimes I find this process too impersonal because it does not let me meet directly with the artist but living in the U.S., a place  distant from the ex libris artists more in demand, does not facilitate the direct interaction I used to have with them while living in Europe.

I have been collecting for over twenty five years and keep accumulating new prints in a disorderly fashion. In addition to a well represented panorama of the work by contemporary artists, I also have an equally important group of “Golden Age” ex libris and Heraldic ones, purchased on the antiquarian markets or exchanged.
Unlike other forms of collecting, with a limited and clear goal (that is, the coins or stamps issued from a country or during a limited period of time), ex libris collecting is by definition “infinite”: color variants, plates with or without remarques, names added after the first run of prints and so on make the overall activity of collecting them essentially unlimited.

Throughout my twenty five years of collecting I had the fortune of meeting in person and getting to know many fabulous artists, some unfortunately no longer with us and most still active and in their prime; It’s virtually impossible, and unfair, to single out THE print maker who struck me the most; what I admire the most in any given artist opus list is continuity, solidity. I don’t particularly care for artists with “mountains” and “valleys”(that is, artists who might excel every now and then but who often produce too many editions and cannot keep up with the quality): less is better, in most cases.
When I was living in Italy I attended pretty regularly regional meetings; since 1990, after moving to the US, my attendance has dropped considerably. Each meeting attended, with the exception of the Boston congress in 2000 where somehow I played “at home”, is a luxury which I try to deserve by maximizing my exchanges and meetings with friends, artists and collectors.

I am always interested in exchanging ex libris, old and new, and can be reached at

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