THE MAGAZINE OF THOUGHTS, DREAMS, IMAGES THAT PASS THROUGH EVERY ART OF DOING, SEEING, DISCOVERING

08 July 2011

"ARCA Arte Vercelli" – Italian Art with Guggenheim



Date le numerose richieste pervenute, proponiamo l'articolo su Arca Arte Vercelli, pubblicato da Taccuini Internazionali nel mese di aprile, anche in lingua inglese:

 

 Umberto Boccioni, Controluce (Backlight), 1910




1900-1961

ITALIAN ART

in GUGGENHEIM COLLECTIONS







Mario Sironi, “Urban Landscape”, 1921 (from the exhibition catalogue, by “Giunti art exhibitions museums”)


We have visited the beautiful exhibition suggested this year by ARCA Arte Vercelli, “1900-1961 italian art in Guggenheim collections”, after the wonderful exhibitions already realized by ARCA City of Vercelli in collaboration with Guggenheim Foundation, all centered on the “histocal” relationship between the gre american institution and our country.



Giorgio De Chirico, "La torre rossa" ("The red tower"), 1913



The exhibition that we saw this year (open until june 5th 2011), promoted by Piedmonte region in collaboration with the office for the promotion of culture in Vercelli, has been organized by Luca Massimo Barbero inside the prestigious San Marco church, and in particular behind the steel and glass casket that has been setup inside it so as to host these initiatives of high cultural level.


Mario Sironi, "Il cavallo bianco" ("The white horse"), 1919




We would like to highlight these three components, since tourism often shows approval for the binomial “historical artistic culture” and “creative intelligence”  in the event’s exposition. It must express a great level of preparation and selection of the works, the historical context in which you can discover historical-artistic values, and a mounting able to connect the two previous components. This exhibition, like the previous trilogy centered on Peggy Guggenheim’s figure, had definitely got these characteristics, and because of that it deserves to be promoted as a destination for the cultured tourist, also coming from abroad, who is about to plan a trip in our region.
Moreover, he should have the pleasure to see Vercelli, a city of art still little accessibile in the International circuits, its squares and its markets, its famous monuments and its estimable cooking. These last aspects deserve our attention, in another site. 



An angle of the exhibition, with Burri and Afro. The display cabinet’s “sky” where contemporary art exhibitions are organized, can be opened or closed so as to see San Marco Church. The osmotic effect between the two complementary areas is incredibly spectacular


But let’s now talk about Arca and the exhibition, about San Marco Church, which contained Arca, which in its turn contained the italian art chosen by the Big Apple. This precious whole of historical-artistic values, one inside of the other, the “display cabinet” cointaining Arca, which contained the “case”, is what struck us the most; the Church and its frescos were being repaired, and you could clearly see the works; the exhibitions’ room offered an output more and more prestigious, and the “Arca” which separated them could highlight their osmosis, since it had a mobile ceiling, able to open and close depending on the need of light and dark, link and separation that you decided to use, even during the exhibitions’ course.



Another angle of the exhibition, whose inauguration has been attended by a numerous public



The display cabinet’s device was really astonishing, even in its modest dimensions (m. 29 x 7,5), and since it developed both indoor and outdoor on 374 square meters of surface, it allowed the visitor to combine modern and ancient art. You could compare the productions of  lay culture and sacred art, of that unicum, in the Piedmontese figurative panorama, constituted by the “Genealogy of the Virgin”, which represents one of the best examples of medieval frescos, endowed with a strong typicality, today present in our geographical area.




Umberto Boccioni, Unique shapes of the space’s continuity, 1913. This is one of the three versions of this sculpture: it belongs to the Guggenheim collection. Another version is exhibited in the Novecento Museum in Milan. The third one is in the Tate Modern in London.

In the display cabinet, on the day we visited it, the exhibition by Massimo Barbero was dedicated to the italian art that fascinated Solomon Guggenheim, determining his choice in the formation of his prestigious collection. We have had a chance to deeply understand the american taste for the italian artistic currents which have crossed the first years of the last Century, especially the Milanese ones, like the futurism of Boccioni, Sironi, Carrà, and also of some italian artists in Paris, like Modigliani. A discovery, the one of Solomon, which has certainly influenced every following artistic event of the modern, until this day and age.




Peggy Guggenheim in the year 1957, next to  "La nostalgia del poeta" ("The poet’s nostalgia") by Giorgio De Chirico,  promotes the new fashion  bigness, wearing the big belt and the Alexander Calder earrings (picture got from the Exhibition catalogue, of “Giunti art exhibitions museums”).


We also had the possibility to get an idea of what Peggy’s father and Peggy herself were going to dedicate themselves to, by growing attached to such art, buying works so as to widen their collection, while the pioneer of american architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright, was about to plan and build the temple of New York art during the 50’s, commissioned by them. We discovered that Burri, Capogrossi, Fontana and Vedova were some of their favourite artists, after the ones who had constituted the 20th-Century vanguards, in addition to De Pisis and Morandi, already belonged to Gianni Mattioli Collection, and arrived at Ca' Venier dei Leoni in 1997. For sure the american Master who was building the Temple (the primigenial Arca) that would host them, was already imagining the collocation along the perimeter of the immense degrading spiral which his genius was orchestrating, as the project developed.



The public was particularly attracted by “Portrait of a student”, work realized between 1918 and 19 by Amedeo Modigliani. It was the exhibition’s icon, together with Capogrossi’s work, and it had been placed in a central position.



The curator explained us the reasons that had induced him to introduce a chronological logic in the mounting which is opposite to the norm, starting from the 60’s and proceeding backwards until the beginning of the century, along the exhibition’s path. It was almost a discovery of modernity’s origins, starting from the big and beautiful canvass by Capogrossi, entitled “Surface 512”, which have also marked the moulding of a specific National artistic taste, internationally well-recognizable, in the various stages of the centenary from Italy’s Unity, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year.



Giorgio Morandi, "Natura morta" ("Still Life"), 1954



The canvasses, paintings, sculptures exhibited were some of the most beautiful and meaningful ones from the 20th Century, and some of them belonged to the big Guggenheim collection: let’s mention, for example, the 8 works by Mario Sironi, the Urban Landscape from 1921, which were particularly able to represent the effective and terse style of the milanese artist. We want to mention also the beautiful “red tower”, by De Chirico, from 1913, metaphysical italian square decorated with a few symbolic figures of high “De Chirico” imprinting; the wonderful “Suburb” created by Umberto Boccioni in 1909; and ‘Matter”, from 1912. The painting “Backlight” from 1910, really fresh and modern, was really appreciated by us, especially in this exhibition’s context.

Umberto Boccioni, "Materia" ("Matter"), great oil from 1912, with renewals in 1913, of  remarkable dimensions (226 x 150 cm) (from the exhibition catalogue, of "Giunti art exhibitions museums")



Another work of really high level was a “Still life” from 1954 by Morandi, of unusual dimensions, delicate and soft like no one else of his other paintings; and then the typical works by Vedova, Fontana and Burri, between which the “Big Plastic Black” by the latter particularly stood out. In this work created in 1964, the material swells up and boils so as to give an individual and new interpretation to art. Giuseppe Capogrossi stood out in the exhibition because of the gigantic being at the entrance of every path.
Medardo Rosso, Gaetano Previati and Adolfo Wildt, respectively in "Ecce Puer" of 1906, "Young boys with fruit baskets" of 1916 and "Cry on the closed door" of 1915, open and close the entire exhibition, together with Capogrossi, by welding its extremes.



The public crowded the presentation of the exhibition’s curator, Luca Massimo Barbero. In the background, the great painting by Giuseppe Capogrossi “Surface 512”, 200 x 300 cm, bought by Solomon Guggenheim but never arrived to its natural site. Today, because of various vicissitudes, it is in Rome, inside the National Museum of Modern Art.



We believe that exhibitions of this kind can be really useful, together with the context described, the structure that contains them, the whole city which has been able to express it and create a territorial and urban context, to be aknowledge and recognized. But also with a tourism that can produce other tourism, an economy which is fundamental for our Country, in the sign of that “Knowledge Economy” which also the assessor from Vercelli, Giorgio Fossale, has been able to enhance through this initiative, since he would like to link it with the production of a new and wide surplus value. He has certainly worked in this way, and he has been able to create in his town a model that should be reproduced in other “smaller” italian local realities.



The “Display Cabinet” of the Arca, in San Marco Church in Vercelli, with its ceiling that can be opened and closed, and that highlights the vaults rich in precious frescos. The project has been realized by the Turinese architect Ferdinando Fagnola. The display cabinet (the Arca) is a parallelepiped of small dimensions. It is only 29 x 7,5 meters wide, and it allows a path inside its rooms which is 110 meters long. Despite the dimensions, due to the dimensions of the curch that contains it, the Arca is completely suitable for accomodating some exhibitions of middle dimensions; this has been demonstrated not only in this last exhibition, but also in all the ones that have preceded it, always set up with moderation and good taste, armony and balance.


We will certainly see that this can happen, by using the means that we have available, so as to give our contribution to the promotion of Vercelli’s cultural reality, and so as to indicate this town as a centre of significant initiatives, inside a context of urban and artistic history from far origins.

Vercelli aprile 2011
Enrico Mercatali 
(Penelope Mirotti translated from italian)
Fotografie di Enrico Mercatali

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