It is with profound sadness that we note the passing of our very dear friend, Sauro Bocchi. Giorgio and I met Sauro in Rome in spring of 1992 as we were beginning our exploration into Italian Art. As a knowledgeable gallerist with a keen eye for quality from all types of artists, both known and unknown, we were exposed to extraordinary pieces of art and learned so much. Sauro’s passion for art was limitless. His wry sense of humor and straightforward attitude always made us laugh. We owe Sauro so much not only for his guidance and expertise but more importantly for his loyal and loving friendship.
Sauro, we will miss you greatly but you will always remain in our hearts!
-Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu
Sauro lived for art and for the art world: he invested all of his capital, all of his time, and all of his energy in it. When Barbara Tosi and I met him he had a shiny new Ferrari. He came from a rich Modenese family but he had left everything – his family, the company – to go and study art history in the DAMS program at the University of Bologna. Then he came to Rome, a city he adored (he was perhaps the only one who still loved it so much), and he opened a small gallery in a beautiful place: Palazzo Ricci.
For a few years, that space – frequented by critics like Achille Bonito Oliva and artists like Luigi Ontani – became something of an institution, with little dinners that Sauro would cook himself. He sought to have a conversation that was more cultural than commercial, promoting artists in whom he saw something, but who were not recognized for it. He wasn’t interested in following trends, and we know that this is in no way easy. He made room for some very talented women artists: Cloti Ricciardi, for example, and Lisa Montessori, recently – and rightly – rediscovered.
I had suggested to him that he work with Fabio Mauri, an artist I had always loved and with whom I had a wonderful friendship. It was thus that, in 1991, the splendid exhibit Due acquerelli (Two Watercolors) came about, which I presented with Barbara Tosi: a large, old pantograph skewering two black monochromatic watercolors, echoed by a miniature model. The little catalogue was humble (but pretty), because Sauro had no money. But he always tried, when he could, to produce small publications.
He continued to work with Mauri for some time, and supported him during some tough years; I think one of the first zerbini (doormats) that Fabio made was for Sauro. With his ties to the great Luciano Pistoi, he had participated, along with his friend Stefania Miscetti, in “Bellissima,” the fair started by Luciano in Florence. He also sought to collaborate in the organization of projects and exhibitions. After the death of Gino De Dominicis, he organized a show in his honor, which I curated (with the help of Arianna De Rosa, a close friend of mine and of Gino’s, and, from that moment on, of Sauro’s) at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in London.
We worked together several times; I recall the exhibit of works made of fabrics and textiles in the former prisons in Spoleto. And, in particular, I remember Trasparenze (Transparencies), the project on alternative energy (produced by Fabula in arte) at MACRO Mattatoio in Rome and MADRE in Naples, with works realized for the occasion by Nari Ward, Ackroyd and Harvey, Georges Adéagbo, Liliana Moro, Bruna Esposito, and a masterpiece by Tony Cragg. I remember a wonderful discussion on Pistoletto’s “Mediterranean” table, with Michelangelo and Councilor (for Culture and Communication) Croppi.
Although he came from a family of entrepreneurs, he didn’t really have a managerial side, and even though he was a merchant, he didn’t really have a knack for business (and much less the ruthlessness of a wheeler and dealer). What he did have, however, was the trust, the respect, and the fondness of careful and sophisticated collectors like Rosa and Gilberto Sandretto, and Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu.
Ciao, Sauro, from all of us.