The collector Pierre Sigg on the artists who reinvent painting with new technologies and the Warhol he wants in his bathroom
After building up his collection over the years, Swiss-born art collector Pierre Sigg, based in Saudi Arabia, decided to embark on something more similar, but not quite the same.
The investor and consultant, which focuses on real estate, hospitality and technology, will soon open a foundation in the form of a prestigious artists’ residence between the Middle East and Europe.
Inaugurated in January, the Sigg Art Foundation will host a program of artist residencies, including at Al-Ula, the ancient site in Saudi Arabia that will host Desert X this month, as well as at his family home in southern France.
Digital-focused artists including Petra Cortright, Louisa Gagliardi and Timur Si-Qin have been selected for this year’s round.
The program will highlight traditional artistic practices, in particular painting, which are re-examined through the prism of digital and technological innovation.
On the occasion of his new project, we spoke with the collector about the new artists that are on his radar and the reasons why art history can be learned through technological innovation.
What was your first purchase?
One of my first purchases was a painting by Yves Klein which brilliantly reflects the search for the infinite and the immaterial. It’s interesting in retrospect, if you put it in perspective with the activities of my foundation and the collection I’m currently developing, which focuses on practices exploring the intersection between digital and traditional media, especially painting.
What was your last purchase?
I acquired a few works in Basel, including superb pieces by Louisa Gagliardi, Korakrit Arunanondchai and Peter Schoolwerth.
What works or artists do you hope to add to your collection this year?
I want to continue to focus on emerging artists who challenge history and its artistic heritage through the prism of digital and technological innovation. For me, this is a really underdeveloped area, but so relevant in our time. And with the launch of my foundation this year, with new residency programs in Al-Ula and Le Castellet in the south of France, I am also looking forward to seeing the works that the guest artists will produce during their residencies.
I already have great works by Petra Cortright and Louisa Gagliardi, who are coming this year, and I can’t wait to meet and start talking with the other residents Kévin Bray, Adam Cruces, Charles Arthur Feuvrier, Ittah Yoda, Nicolas Lamas, Ahmed Mater, Elsa Muller and Timur Si-Qin.
What is the most expensive work of art you own?
I know how much I paid for the work, but I have no idea which one is worth more now.
Where do you most often buy art?
I am open to buying from galleries, auctions or privately. What matters is the quality of the work that is offered to me.
Is there a work you regret buying?
There are works that interest me less, but I am still very attached to them.
What work have you hung above your couch?
We have a few works by former residents of our program – Gaspar Willmann and Ben Elliot – hanging in our residences in the south of France, but we have also acquired museum-scale works that need to be stored. We are currently exploring solutions to exhibit part of the collection to the public through institutional partnerships.
What’s the least practical piece of art you own?
I acquired a work by Pipilotti Rist, Cape Cod Chandelier, a large installation that is very difficult to store or display in our facilities. Ideally, it would be installed in a museum, to which it belongs.
What work would you have liked to buy when you had the opportunity?
If you could steal one piece of art without getting caught, what would it be?
Probably Andy Warhol Gold Marilyn Monroe from 1962 in the MoMA collection. I would hang it somewhere where I could see it every day: in my bathroom!