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Bruna Aickelin at Galleria il Capricorno, 1996.
Bruna Aickelin at Galleria il Capricorno, 1996.

Bruna Aickelin (1927–2020)

Italian collector Bruna Aickelin, who founded and helmed the historical Galleria il Capricorno in Venice from 1971 to 2013, has died at the age of ninety-three. Galleria il Capricorno exhibited twentieth-century artists such as Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni, Cy Twombly, and Robert Rauschenberg, and gave many contemporary artists, including Elizabeth Peyton and Sue Williams, their first shows in Italy. Aickelin spearheaded the production of Karen Kilimnik’s landmark 2005 exhibition at the Palazzo Bevilaqua and, since the 1990s, had partnered with Victoria Miro Gallery to stage presentations of work by Hernan Bas, Verne Dawson, NS Harsha, Chantal Joffe, and Wangechi Mutu, among others. In 2017, coinciding with the Fifty-Seventh Venice Biennale, the gallery’s seventeenth-century space in Venice’s San Marco district was adopted by Victoria Miro. 

After studying in Venice, Aickelin married collector Emilio Aickelin, whose sudden death spurred her to open a gallery. Over Galleria il Capricorno’s more than forty-year run, Aickelin ran in international art circles that included Leo Castelli, Paula Cooper, Barbara Gladstone, James Lee Byars, and Michael Sonnabend. When asked in an interview with Artribune about her relationship with art fairs, she answered that above all they were vital in offering opportunities to forge deep friendships with artists and gallerists, noting, “When fairs are held, knowledge is more important than sales.”