Rome is often called an outdoor museum. But the capital also has dozens of museums to explore, not only in the Centro Storico but beyond the walls.
Ai Weiwei is one of the best and most provocative artists working in the world today. Now Italians and visitors to Italy will have a chance to see the Chinese artists’s works up close in an exhibition at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. Continue reading Ai Weiwei’s ‘Libero’ at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence
On October 1, the city of Torino (Turin) inaugurated Italy’s newest museum. CAMERA, the Centro Italiano per la Fotografia, will showcase Italian and international photography in a 2,000 square meter space just down the road from the Museo Nazionale del Cinema and other sights in Torino’s historic center. Continue reading CAMERA: Torino’s New Photography Museum
A newly opened museum in Italy wants to explore man’s relationship to manure. The Museo Della Merda (i.e., The Museum of Sh*t) is located at a dairy farm, on the ground floor of a medieval castle, in the village of Castelbosco (Piacenza) in Emilia Romagna. Continue reading No Bull: Italy Has A New Museum Devoted to Sh*t
If you’re in Venice for the Biennale, consider stopping by Fondazione Prada’s “Portable Classic” exhibit, which features mini models of famous Italian sculptures, including the Farnese Hercules and the Laocoön.
I recently re-subscribed to the New York Review of Books and I’m glad I did. Besides providing some of the world’s most comprehensive and engaging book reviews, the NYRB often reviews art exhibits. In the latest Art Issue of the magazine, Andrew Butterfield reviews Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice, an exhibition running in London’s National Gallery through June 15, 2014; Julian Bell looks at two new books about Piero della Francesca in The Mystery of the Great Piero (subscription required); and Jonathan Galassi writes Speed in Life and Death (subscription), a piece that deals with Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe, an exhibition on view at NYC’s Guggenheim Museum through September 1, 2014.
There is also a poem by Michelangelo. Michelangelo’s note To Giovanni da Pistoia has appeared in many publications over the years, I’m not sure why it is being reprinted here. But the poem is always an illuminating read about the difficulties Michelangelo had in creating his most famous work.
A review of Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice at the National Gallery, London
“For much of the twentieth century Veronese was regarded more as a skilled purveyor of decorative finishes than as a profound master, and his reputation was in decline, but of late there are signs of renewed interest, which this show and its catalog will certainly do much to advance. Perhaps more than any other picture in the show, The Family of Darius before Alexander [part of the National Gallery’s permanent collection] reveals his great strengths as a painter; it also makes clear why he can seem so foreign to common modern ideals of art and of the artist.” –Andrew Butterfield
A review of Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City
“The Futurists wanted to sweep away what the poet Guido Gozzano called “le buone cose di pessimo gusto,” good things in the worst of taste, and replace them with an insolent, steely, polluting Machine Age. “Time and space ended yesterday,” Marinetti intoned. “We already live in the absolute”—that is, in a state of perpetual youth menaced only by death. “In every young man Marinetti’s gunpowder,” Vladimir Mayakovsky wrote. Marinetti not only wanted to end the monarchy and “de-Vaticanize”; he also argued for replacing the senate with an assembly of the young.” –Jonathan Galassi
“What more can we know about the artist, who died the day that Columbus landed in the New World and who for most of four centuries was nearly forgotten, only to reemerge as an indispensable fixture in modern schemes of art? The Met’s catalog ushers in Piero in the manner we have come to expect: he painted “magical pictures” that combine ‘intimacy and gravity,’ inspiring ‘a sacral awe.’ It points to his ‘almost primitive’ qualities and cites Aldous Huxley’s essay [PDF] of 1925 that names the Resurrection fresco in Sansepolcro as ‘the best picture in the world.’
“All this fits the occasion, but it mystifies. It makes it harder to imagine a human painter at work. Banker has been intent to reverse that process. To do so he has scoured the archives of Tuscany, Umbria, and the Marches. (Sansepolcro lies near the border of the three regions.) If, just possibly, he has been overzealous about tying up loose ends, he can nonetheless boast of personally discovering “over one hundred previously unknown documents specifically relating to Piero.” His methodology is sober and his inferences are toughly argued, and the result must surely count as a vitally important contribution to Piero studies.” –Julian Bell
Check out the New York Review of Books’s Art Issue for these and more reviews.
Next month, the Italy Blogging Roundtable will celebrate our first anniversary. Jessica, Alexandra, Gloria, Rebecca, and I have enjoyed tackling a new topic each month, and we’ve especially enjoyed hearing from readers. In fact, we were so pleased with how our last invitation went for bloggers to join us at the Roundtable that we thought we’d extend another! This month, not only is the Italy Roundtable topic INVITATIONS, we’re inviting anyone who wants to participate to blog about one of the past year’s Roundtable topics. Our invitation details are at the bottom of this post. Now on to the post…
In an initiative to allow locals and the throngs of summer tourists more time to enjoy Rome’s cultural riches, the City of Rome is keeping its municipal museums open from 8pm until 1am every Saturday through September 3. Which museums are municipal museums, you ask? They include the Capitoline Museums (pictured), the Ara Pacis Museum, Trajan’s Markets, both outposts of the MACRO contemporary art museum, and several other museums, galleries, and villas. Regular admission prices still apply to these late-night visits.
Here is a list of Rome’s municipal museums. For photos of these museums’ collections and recent exhibits, visit the Musei in Comune Flickr page.
Italy’s modern art museums are often overlooked by the masses, who prefer, not surprisingly, to examine the country’s ancient and Renaissance-era treasures. But with the debut of Rome’s new, Zaha Hadid-designed MAXXI Museum, the capital now has a very high profile exhibition space that is itself a work of art.
New York Times’ The Moment magazine describes the museum, which is dedicated to exhibitions on 21st century art, this way:
[It is a] series of sky-lighted concrete canyons that tilt and swell, swerve like a velodrome and twist into what appears from the exterior to be a monumental hard-shelled calla lily, a pliable mausoleum that seems to play the sobriety of a de Chirico off the cooling, warping effects of a work by Anish Kapoor. Otherworldly in some respects, the museum also resonates with the character of Rome. The MAXXI could easily be a composite sketch of Rome’s contradictory but fluid, theatrical, and sweeping architectural personality — which is not unlike its architect’s.
Such excitement over a new building in the Eternal City made me think that others may wish to know more about some other modern art museums in Italy. Here’s a brief list:
Rome and Lazio
Before the MAXXI, Rome had the National Gallery of Modern Art. This museum is housed in a late 19th century building in the Villa Borghese and features art from Pirandello, De Chirico, Kandinsky, and more. There’s also the MACRO, a museum occupying two reclaimed buildings (and a new wing in 2010) in the Porta Pia neighborhood. It features “some of the most significant expressions characterizing the Italian art scene since the 1960s.” Other places in Rome to see modern art include the PalaExpo in the Quirinale district (which has, by the way, a great cafeteria); the Auditorium Parco della Musica, a music hall and occasional exhibition space in Flaminio which was designed by the celebrated architect Renzo Piano and opened in 2002; and the Giorgio de Chirico House-Museum near Piazza di Spagna.
Elsewhere in Rome’s region of Lazio, check out the town of Anticoli Corrado, located about 40 km northeast of the capital and featuring a trove of artist studios and the Civic Gallery of Modern Art. The best write-up about this little town can be found on the Vagabondo-Italy website.
Venice is on this list for one museum only: the Guggenheim. Located in Peggy Guggenheim’s former palazzo on the Grand Canal, the museum “is the most important museum in Italy for European and American art of the first half of the 20th century.” What does that include? Some of the famous names in Mrs. Guggenheim’s collection include Braque, Duchamp, Modrian, and Giacometti. Ernst, Pollock, and Magritte. Calder, Brancusi, Klee, and Picasso. Just about anyone you can think of from the world of contemporary art is there. The Guggenheim also attracts numerous big-name exhibits. Currently, it is hosting the Masterpieces of Futurism (through Dec. 31, 2009). See my article on Planning a Visit to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection for About.com.
Of course, Venice also is the host city for the Biennale. Despite its name, this celebration of contemporary art is happening almost all of the time. This year (2009), saw the Venice Biennale of Art, Cinema, Theatre, and Music. However, in August 2010, the 12th Biennale for Architecture will kick off in the Lion City.
Florence and Tuscany
Finding modern art in Renaissance-heavy Tuscany is a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. But modern art is there. In Florence, try the Marino Marini museum, which features the Italian artist’s works, including numerous sculptures of horses. Also, what could be more modern than fashion? Even if you can’t afford to shop until you drop, you can enjoy looking back – and forward – at the styles created by Florentine Salvatore Ferragamo in the Museo Ferragamo. (As of this writing, the Museo Ferragamo is sponsoring a shoe design contest for artists. Deadline Dec. 10, 2009!)
There are several more opportunities in Tuscany to enjoy modern art. Just north of Florence, in the city of Prato, is the Luigi Pecci Contemporary Art Museum. It features mid- to late-20C art, including photography, from Italian and international artists. If you’re in Pisa, you can savor some pop art with Keith Haring’s Tuttomondo mural. It’s one of the last works ever created by the American artist. Two more outdoor modern art spaces in Tuscany are gardens. In Chianti, check out the Chianti Sculpture Park, whose name says it all, and the Tarot Garden (Il Giardino dei Tarocchi), an unusual project of sculptures based on tarot cards that was the vision of artist Niki de Saint Phalle. The Tarot Garden is located in Capalbio in the province of Grosseto.
Our final stop on this modern art tour of Italy is in Torino (Turin), whose skyline is a work of contemporary art. The spire of the Mole Antonelliana, gives Torino its distinctive look and today houses Italy’s National Museum of Cinema (Museo Nazionale del Cinema). The moving image is, to some, the ultimate in contemporary art, and the MNC contains a vast collection of archival film footage, books and magazines about film, scripts, costumes, and a cinema. Among the masterpieces in the collection are an 18C movie camera (the first?), Peter O’Toole’s costume from Lawrence of Arabia, an original poster from the Rita Hayworth classic Gilda, storyboards from Star Wars, and a script of the Italian dialogues from the 1933 version of King Kong.
While Venice has the Biennale, Torino has the Torino Triennale Tremusei, a triennial exhibition of emerging artists at three of Torino’s contemporary art spaces: the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, the Castello di Rivoli, and the Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, also known as the GAM. The last Triennale in Torino was in 2008 (the 2nd incarnation). So, if my calendar and math serve me right, T3 will take place in 2011. Stay tuned.
I know I’ve missed a ton of other fine contemporary art museums in Italy. So if you have suggestions for what else should be on this list, please add your comments below.
In the wake of Abruzzo’s devastating earthquake of April 2009, many companies and countries have pulled together to aid the tremor-stricken region. The other day, while visiting the National Gallery in Washington, DC, I learned that this aid has been extended to the art world.
Since June 15, 2009, the National Gallery’s grand rotunda has been the home of the Beffi Triptych, a treasure from the National Museum of Abruzzo. The work is on loan “in gratitude to the United States for being among the first to offer assistance to the region after the earthquake and as testimony to the Italian commitment to restore fully the cultural heritage of the region.”
The triptych is quite a beautiful site, and I’m delighted that people in the U.S. are able to see this masterpiece on such an exclusive stage. However, I should also point out that while much of Abruzzo’s art has found a home, some tent cities still exist outside of L’Aquila. Let’s hope the Italian government – or another generous entity – is able to provide these people shelter before the cold really sets in.
Photo from the National Gallery website
According to About.com, the Vatican Museums are going to be open late to visitors on July 24.
Visitors will be admitted from 7 pm until 9:30 pm with the museums closing at 11 pm and booking is required, according to Cultural Italy (tickets can be reserved through their site for a fee).
Sounds like a great way to spend a summer evening in Rome!
Photo by Malouette
Today begins Culture Week throughout all of Italy. Through April 26, state-run museums will be open for free and many will be extending hours. Tons of special events and exhibitions are part of Culture Week. To see what’s on, visit the Italian Culture Ministry’s website.
No time or money to plan an Italy vacation right now? Here’s another installment of what we call “Italy at Home.” Here are two things you can put on your calendar.
If you’re in Boston, head to the Museum of Fine Arts where the show “Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice” is underway. A recent review by Holland Cotter of the New York Times said “You can pretty much kiss goodbye, at least for now, the prospect of more exhibitions like [this one]. Transatlantic loans of the kind that make this show the breathtaker it is are a big drain on strapped museum budgets. Boston was lucky to partner with the Louvre on this project, but such masterpiece gatherings are likely to be rare in years to come.” The exhibit runs through August 16. Get your tickets now.
Another Italy-related show may be coming to a theater near you beginning March 18. Valentino: The Last Emperor, a documentary about legendary fashion designer Valentino Garavani played to huge audiences at various film festivals (Venice, Toronto) all last fall. Cinemas in New York will begin screenings on the 18th, followed by Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. You can follow the film on its own Facebook page to see if more dates are added.
As we reported last week, Tuscany has a brand new tourism website. We have also now learned that the regional tourism board is considering letting visitors weigh in on the Tuscan museum experience. According to the Florentine, the tourism board will be asking visitors in May to become “museum reporters” as part of the Amico Museo 2009 initiative.
Those who choose to become ‘museum reporters’ will be asked to send their photos and thoughts to [email protected]. The best entries will be featured in a virtual album on the region’s official Web site, in the ‘Culture’ subsection.
So here’s your chance to be heard and let others know how impressed (or underwhelmed) you were by a particular museum in Tuscany.
For the first time ever in the U.S. – at the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama, no less – Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings and notebooks from the Biblioteca Reale in Turin will be on display. To say this is a huge deal is an understatement. In fact, this is the first time that all the pieces of the collection have been shown together outside of Turin.
Included in the exhibit, explains AP, is Leonardo’s “Codex on the Flight of Birds, an 18-page notebook which had never been shown in the United States. Thick magnifying glasses are available for visitors to truly get a sense of the detail Leonardo packed into the drawings, some of which are nearly complete and others that seem like quick doodles.”
The Birmingham show will run through November 9. After that, the drawings will head to San Francisco where they will be displayed from November 15 through January 4, 2009, at the Legion of Honor. As there is only one Leonardo in any permanent collection in the U.S. – Ginevra de’ Benci at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC – this is truly an exhibition you don’t want to miss if you are stateside this fall.
If you’re not taking a trip to Rome, the former stomping ground and site of many works by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, don’t fret. Approximately 57 of the Baroque artist’s marble sculptures will be on display at the Getty Museum through October 26.
The highlight of the show, according to David Littlejohn in his Wall Street Journal article Living, Breathing Portraits in Marble from Bernini, is the bust of Bernini’s mistress Costanza Bonarelli.
“A sensuous bust of Bernini’s mistress Costanza Bonarelli is the most compelling work on display. The wife of one of his studio assistants, Costanza apparently shared her favors between Gian Lorenzo and his younger brother, driving the sculptor to violent fits of jealousy. But when he carved this instant, breathless image — for his own private devotion — he was clearly in thrall to her charms. Costanza is caught as if unaware, her chemise falling open over a very touchable breast, her eyes staring in shock and desire, her hair in lusty disarray, her ripely curved lips slightly open, revealing a bit of tongue.”
Other “portraits” in the exhibition include busts of Pope Urban VIII (Bernini’s primary papal patron), Pope Clement X, Cardinal Richelieu of France, and other European leaders. While the preview of some of the busts online may not astonish, I can assure you that viewing a Bernini up close will. Consider it homework before your next Roman vacation.
When you go about listing in a guidebook all the myriad things there are to do in Rome, the city’s house museums, as the New York Times points out, rarely make the cut. In the Unofficial Guide to Central Italy, we do make mention of the art gallery in Palazzo Colonna, which includes Annibale Carracci’s Bean Eater, the Galleria Doria Pamphilj, with Velazquez’s portrait of Innocent X, and the Keats-Shelley Memorial House, the little pink home next to the Spanish Steps where John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley once lived.
The Times piece is a nice supplement to the Unofficial Guide. In addition to the galleries mentioned above, Times’ writer Andrew Ferren profiles Palazzo Spada, Palazzo Corsini, Palazzo Barberini, and The Napoleonic Museum. Note that the Spada, Corsini, and Barberini galleries are managed under the Galleria Borghese umbrella. Ferren also writes about Palazzo Altemps, now part of the National Roman Museum, a complex that got the full update treatment in the latest edition of the UGCI.
According to the U.K.’s Italy Magazine, an exhibit of 120 photographs of Italy’s heritage sites will be on display at the Central National Library. The exhibition will give you a chance to see the Trulli of Alberobello (in Puglia, as pictured above), the beauty of the Amalfi Coast, and the historic center of the ideal Renaissance cities of Urbino and Pienza.
The exhibit at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma runs through March 14. The library is located at Viale Castro Pretorio 105 (Metro linea B, Castro Pretorio), just a few blocks from the Termini train station.
Way back in 1999, I remember walking up to the pile of rubble and marble that was the Ara Pacis and feeling amazed that such an ancient monument had been left so lonesome on the banks of the Tiber to weather the elements. Most of the rest of Rome’s monuments were under scaffolding at that point, getting ready to shine for the new milennium.
Shortly after that, it was announced that the Ara Pacis would undergo a huge refurbishment by American architect Richard Meier. His winning proposal would envelop the Augustan memorial under an ultramodern glass and steel structure. Romans were outraged, the project was on-again-off-again-on-again. Finally, in spring 2006 the Ara Pacis complex opened to mixed (mainly negative) reviews.
According to Newsweek, by way of this Ara Pacis blog, “the building has become a flash point for…disaffection for efforts to modernize the ancient city.” This is one reason why it seems fitting to me that the Ara Pacis will host an exhibit about a man who has singlehandedly kept Rome on the map through his modern approach to traditional style: Valentino.
From today (July 6) to October 28, visitors to the Ara Pacis will have the chance to enjoy “Valentino a Roma: 45 Years of Style.” The exhibit will display more than 300 of the design legends garments and other items. Of course, the anniversary itself is being greeted with all sorts of fanfare in Rome, including fashion shows at Santo Spirito in Sassia and at the Villa Borghese. For those not on the guest list, a stroll by the Valentino mother shop at Via Condotti 13 will not be disappointing because it, too, will be decked out for the occasion (not that Valentino or its affiliates need any occasion to be decked out…that’s haute couture for you).
Romans can argue all they want about how Meier’s Ara Pacis complex destroys the cityscape with its modernity. But then those Romans who complain about “the new” don’t deserve the innovative designs of their native son.
While I am a huge Valentino fan, I am wont to laud him here in hopes that I can get on the guest list for the 50-Year retrospective. Please oh please. Oh yeah…and throw in a dress, too. Thank you.
If you can’t make it to Italy this summer, try getting up to New York to see the Metropolitan Museum’s Venice and the Islamic World. This timely, well-curated exhibit looks at the melding of cultures in Venice from 828 to 1797, the era when the city was an important port of trade with the Ottoman Empire. Of particular interest is the representation of fabrics, geometric patterns and personalities from the Muslim World in art from Gentile Bellini and Lorenzo Lotto. The latter was renowned for featuring “oriental” carpets in his depictions of Italian patrician life, as you can see in the accompanying image.
Photo from the Metropolitan Museum of Art