Collecting works of art, especially by American minimalist artists, and photography is an activity that Philip Rolla has cultivated for decades with great satisfaction, both for himself and for his wife Rosella. His proximity to these artists has also always had a great influence on the way he conceives his work. The first two works that he and his wife Rosella bought, after those of his Ticino friends Pierino Selmoni and Flavio Paolucci in the 1970s, were a small rectangular painting with a horizontal parallelepiped by Sol LeWitt and a kind of flip-book by Robert Rauschenberg, a real “bible” for Phil. The interest in photography comes shortly thereafter, in the early 2000s. And the first new entries, a short time apart, were an image of a bathroom in a Mies Van Der Rohe house by the German photographer Thomas Ruff and a sea horizon by the Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto.

On the one hand, the rationality of architectural lines, on the other, poetry: the direction taken in collecting photographs is clear from the beginning. In 2010, Rosella and Philip founded the Rolla Foundation. To date, the collection’s archive contains about a thousand photographic works. The Rollas have built up their collection with wisdom and sensitivity, also thanks to the frequent visits of experienced friends such as the photographers Pino Musi and Luciano Rigolini and the Chiasso gallery owners Daniela and Guido Giudici. On the art buying front, a meeting with the New York art dealer Glenn Dranoff was crucial. The real driving force, however, remains Phil’s incredible intuition, which, together with that of his wife, has over the years brought together dozens of extraordinary pieces in the home, signed by such prestigious names as Walter De Maria, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Sol LeWitt and Lawrence Carroll, to name but a few.


Hiroshi Sugimoto
Stadium Drive-In, Orange, 1993
gelatin silver print