Interview: Karoly Aliotti

A discussion about literature, arts,quotes and the biggest joys of life with the charming art consultant.

If you had the chance to have the perfect “fantasy-dinner” with any artist, writer and composer; whom would you pick? What is on the menu, what music is playing, which books would you have on the table and what would be the main subject?

For starters, I would do it more than once! Here are a few ‘plan de table’ options:

I would want to do a first dinner with Piet Mondrian as guest star. Since he theorized a lot about Jazz, which I like also, I would have to invite Thelonious Monk, Louis Armstrong, and Miles Davis (hoping that he brings Jeanne Moreau with him) – but, in the jazz scene, when you invite one, you have to invite all, so I guess it would be a party more than a dinner… The topic of conversation then becomes self evident. As for the menu, there would be anything but salad… Mondrian hated the color Green!

On a very different note, my second evening would be around Stefan Zweig; he would want me to invite Sigmund Freud, and Romain Rolland; and I would want to introduce them to Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar; needless to say, it would be one serious evening of conversation. Naturally, it would be with classical music in the background, and fish on the menu.

As for one contemporary dinner, it would have to be William Kentridge, Giuseppe Penone, and… Umberto Eco maybe?

Photography or videos?

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” ― Ansel Adams

Which is more powerful; words or pictures? Literature or Art?


Do you remember the first work you bought and how that made you feel?

My first personal purchase was a small painting by a young student at a group show in gallery that I randomly walked into in New York… $60 I remember. I bought it, but they wouldn’t give me the contact information of the artist, so I snuck into the offices and stole the artists CV from the record files…

What are your priorities when buying an art work?

“coup de coeur”

If you could own any work in the world, which three would you choose?

I would have to go with three artists rather than artworks: Brancusi, Rothko and Michelangelo… oh, and.. Kentridge as a bonus.

What word do you use the most?


What questions do the people you work with ask you the most when buying art?


Which bookstores would you choose as your favorites from all around the world?

After a while, the keepers in the bookstore become friends; so I prefer to visit friends, naturally. In Paris, for instance, I favor Libraire Lardanchet; an old friend by now.That said, can you go to New York without stopping by Strand? Can you go to London without stopping by Hatchards? They have been trading books since 1797! Not only does it boast three royal warrants, meaning it supplies books to Her Majesty, it has counted Disraeli, Wilde and Byron among its regulars.  I’ve been to Maastricht before, for the TEFAF fair of course, but never had the chance to visit the Polare bookstore. On my list! What did the city do with an 800-year-old Dominican church with no congregation? Convert it into a temple of books!

Do you underline your books as you read? If so, could you share your all-time favorite quotes?

As one could tell from my twitter feed, I am somewhat of a quote collector. They all come to my mind in different situations, be it professional, private, contextual, or else.For instance, from a professional standpoint, a quote that resonates in my mind very often, is: “When the sun of culture is low, even dwarves will cast long shadows.” -- Karl Kraus.As per my private life, I often think of Rainer Maria Rilke:"I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other." Often I wonder where I would be most happy: Istanbul? New York? Rome? Paris? London? Italo Calvino has the answer."'You take delight not in a city's seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.”And my latest lesson in life is a quote, not from a book, but from a talk:"we always meet the world half way"

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday?

It depends on who is asking.

Beauty / ethereal

Life / direction

Creativity / uncalculated

Art / intuition

Love / !?!

Books / questions

Love staring at / hands. eyes.

İstanbul / under










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