Rome Travel Guide

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Off the Radar Series: Galleria d'Arte Moderna di Roma Capitale

Once called "Galleria Mussolini," now a refurbished grand display of 20th-
Century Italian - mainly Roman -  art

We found ourselves running out of time in an excellent exhibit of 20th-century Italian art at the often overlooked Galleria d'Arte Moderna di Roma Capitale - i.e., the City's Modern (as in before "contemporary" - before MACRO) Art Gallery.

A discrete, if not proper, photo of the current exhibition.
Until recently, the museum was a kind of backwater - in an art sense, not location.  It's up via Francesco Crispi from Gagosian's, and only a few blocks from the Spanish Steps.  But after an almost 10-year closure and renovation (and not the first decades-long closure in its history), it can now hold its own in Rome's dynamic 20th- and 21st-century art scene. 

The last two shows we have seen there have been astoundingly well curated and fascinating.  The collection - of 20th-century Rome art - is very good, perhaps better than the gallery's glitzier cousins - MACRO and MAXXI - who blew their patronage on their buildings.
Locations of galleries, cafes, and
hang-outs of the artists and writers
are on this map.

The current show features the interplay of Italian literature and art, beginning with Gabriele D'Annunzio and continuing through Alberto Moravia.  The panels and placards are all in both English and Italian. 

A 1923 vase by Cambellotti
The D'Annunzio room is titled "between Symbolism and Decadence." Both terms are apt for this World War I hero turned Fascist aviator and poetBill's post 2 years ago explored decadence in Italian culture, and featured D'Annunzio.  Several bronze pieces by Duilio Cambellotti in the "Liberty" style (a movement akin to Art Nouveau, but moving slightly into Art Deco in Italy) are on display in this room.  We came across Cambellotti in an exhibit a few years ago at Villa Torlonia, where some of his work is found permanently in the Casina delle Civette (on Itinerary 8 in Rome the Second Time).

Ferruccio Ferrazzi, "Fragment
of Composition," 1920-21
The material on Luigi Pirandello, writer of "Six Characters in Search of an Author," and considered one of the first absurdist playwrights, speaks cogently of his questioning of the self and the absurdity of the human condition.  Several large paintings of the period (mainly the 1920s) are displayed with quotes from Pirandello that the curator has selected.  A couple of the paintings feature a person examining himself or herself in a mirror.

We have seen a lot of Futurist exhibits in Rome and so won't add much here, except to say that part of a room is devoted to the father of Italian Futurism, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (who, despite his bellicose views, intrigued Yoko Ono) and the "sensation of flight" paintings.

Giacomo Manzu', Girl on a chair,
1955, bronze
The rest we leave for you to discover, pointing out that the gallery has works by Giulio Aristide Sartorio,  Giacomo Balla, Scipione, Mario Mafai, Afro, Arturo Martini, and Giorgio Morandi, among others.  The curating is excellent.  Don't miss the sculpture court on the first floor.

The current exhibition runs through September 29. 

The Galleria d'Arte Moderna's Web site is excellent, although most of it is not translated from Italian.

The gallery is open Tuesday- Sunday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., last admission 30 minutes before closing.  It closes at 2 p.m. on Christmas and New Year's Eves, and is closed, in addition to Mondays, January 1, May 1 and December 35.


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