The Collectors.Chain Prize by Art Defender

The Collectors.Chain Prize by Art Defender

For the second edition of The collectors.chain Prize, Art Defender has again chosen to have the winning work (which it will add to its collection) selected by a jury of collectors, chaired, as last year, by Walter Guadagnini, one of Italy’s foremost experts in photography. Art Defender’s special relationship with photography means that the prize is assigned in Arte Fiera’s Photography and moving images section, further consolidating the company’s special relationship with this art form. Over the years, the company has acquired greater expertise in conservation and in the management of large photographic funds, working alongside public institutions, foundations, and private collectors, utilising state-of-the-art technologies, and collaborating with top experts in the field.

The first edition of the prize led to the purchase of La Sprezzatura III (2016) by Noé Sendas, presented at the fair by MC2Gallery.

The collectors.chain project, launched in 2021 as a community to link the most authoritative collectors in the field and forming a network of backgrounds, passions, and viewpoints to share and promote relations and dialogue among the countless facets of collecting, has created a series of projects based on Art Defender’s business model, i.e., a platform that gathers both collectors and professionals who share a passion for art.

Art Defender is the only company in Italy offering integrated art collection management services. Founded in 2008 by Alvise di Canossa, it now has a network of over 12,000 m2 of maximum-security vaults throughout the country, a team of in-house specialists, and a select network of partners who provide their expertise to offer a differentiated portfolio of exclusive and integrated wealth management activities with a holistic advisory service.


  • Walter Guadagnini, curator and photography historian
  • Claudio Palmigiani, collector
  • Mario Trevisan, collector
  • Massimiliano Stocco, collector

Selected artists:

  • Silvia Camporesi, La mensa del carcere, Pianosa, serie “Atlas Italiae”, 2014 (Podbielski Contemporary, Hall 25 Stand B/56)
  • Maha Malluh, The Mouse (capturing light), 2007 (MLZ Art Dep - Hall 25 Stand B/54)
  • Antonio Ottomanelli, Western wall. Jerusalem, 2018 (Montrasio Arte - Hall 25 Stand A/73)

Winning artist: MAHA MALLUH

Title of work: The Mouse (capturing light), 2007, c-print, dibond

Winning gallery: MLZ Art Dep (Hall 25 Stand B/54)

Motivation: Maha Malluh’s works completely satisfy the founding principles of the Art Defender Award, i.e., the ability to merge the reference to historical tradition with a perspective of contemporary research, achieving a continuity of past and present that exemplifies her photograms. The off-camera technique (the placement of objects directly onto light-sensitive paper) dates back to the origins of photography, stretching across its history through experiments by the avant-garde – from Man Ray to Moholy Nagy – and reaching us today, each time full of new significance. Maha Mullah, born in Saudi Arabia and trained in the United States and Europe, uses the rayograph to give new life and a new vision to everyday objects, which light transforms into presences as concrete as they are ethereal. This is why the jury unanimously voted to assign her the Art Defender 2023 Award, acknowledging her innovations in one of the photographic language’s most original options. 

Awarding Ceremony