Articles by: Alexandra m. Fanelli

  • Art & Culture

    Rome Hosts Major Canaletto Retrospective

    On the occasion of the 250th anniversirsary since the death of Italian master Giovanni Antonio Canal, known as Canaletto, Rome’s Museum Palazzo Braschi is hosting a major retrospective dedicated the Venice-born painter. On view through August 19 2018, the exhibition is a unique opportunity to admire the the artist’s largest group of works ever exhibited in Italy.

    Canaletto’s largest exhibition ever held in Italy

    The largest exhibition of Canaletto works ever held in Italy, Canaletto 1697-1768 celebrates one of the best known European eighteenth-century artists. With his pictorial genius he has revolutionized the genre of landscape painting, raising it to the same importance as historical and figurative painting.

    Held in the museum’s Neoclassical palace located in the heart of renaissance Rome, between Piazza Navona and Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, The exhibition features about 68 works by Canaletto including paintings, drawings and documents.

    The works are on loan from some of the world's most important collections around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Museums of Bostonthe Pushkin Museum in Moscow, the Jacquemart-André in Paris, National Gallery in London, to the Italian ones, including the Sforza Castle in Milan and the Borghese Gallery in Rome.

    Organized in nine sections, the exhibition has the objective of giving an insight into Canaletto's entire career - from his work as a set designer through his revolution of landscape painting.

    Giovanni Antonio Canal: the most celebrated Italian view painter 

    Canaletto was born into a noble family whose coat of arms he occasionally used as a signature. Although Canaletto was adept in many different art forms, such as printmaking, etching engraving and burin, he is best known today for his vedute (views) of his native Venice. Canaletto illustrated numerous scenes of Piazza S. Marco, the principal most famous square of Venice, which many examples are on display at Palazzo Braschi.

    Canaletto was especially known for altering the perspective and the colors to please northern European tastes. His effective use of color and atmospheric effects are said by some to have anticipated Impressionism. Like the Impressionists who were to follow, Canaletto often painted outdoors, rather than in the studio.

    For a long period of his life he worked in England where he painted many sights of London. He was extremely successful in England, thanks to the British merchant and connoisseur Joseph Smith, whose large collection of Canaletto's works was sold to King George III in 1762. Canaletto painted also many scenes the Eternal City from the Roman Forum, to the Colosseum and the Campidoglio.

    This exhibition includes several of the artist’s masterpieces such as The Grand Canal from the northtowards the Rialto bridge, and The Grand Canal with S. Maria della Carità, shown together for the first time, along with the manuscripts detailing their commission, as well known paintings and sketches. The show also demonstrates the increasing importance of Palazzo Braschi which has hosted several blockbuster exhibitions recently such as Artemisia Gentileschi

  • Art & Culture

    Design for a Sustainable Future: A Conversation with Massimo Catalani

    The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has placed design at the very core of its promotional strategy known as "Vivere all’Italiana”, which seeks to promote Italy’s cultural and production system through an integrated action combining culture, economy, Italian language and scientific research.

    The First Edition of the Italian Design Day was held on March 2nd, 2017, and involved up to 20,000 design experts in over 100 cities across the world. The very successful event was replicated, and the second edition of Italian Design Day was celebrated on March 1st, 2018 in 100 cities all over the world. This year’s topic emphasizes the relationship between “Design and Sustainability” from an economic, social, and environmental point of view. 

    As the theme chosen for the Expo Dubai 2020 "Connecting minds, creating the future" suggests, the solution to the issues of our planet and the exploration of new pathways of development and innovation can only grow through the collaboration between different cultures and nations and greater awareness.

    Triennale International Exhibition: “Broken Nature - Design Takes on Human Survival”

    In conjunction with such a theme, the network of Embassies, Consulates and Italian Cultural Institutes in the world offered a series of related programs involving architects, designers, artists, academics, business people, critics and communicators.

    Italian Design Day 2018 is really in tune with the theme selected for the 22nd Triennale International Exhibition, “Broken Nature - Design Takes on Human Survival”, which will take place from March 1 to September 1, 2019. The theme, “Broken Nature”, aims to look at the future of the environment, which has been recognized by the Triennale as “crucial in our time”, and how design, architecture and art can take on climate change and inequality.

    One of the foremost experts on contemporary architecture and design, Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator of Architecture and Design at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), has been chosen as the General Curator for the 22nd Triennale. On the occasion of the 2018 Italian Design Day, the Italian Cultural Institute of New York invited Paola Antonelli to speak about design and sustainability Mario Cucinella, architect, and curator of the Italian Pavilion at the next Biennale of Venice.

    Massimo Catalani: Ambassadors of Italian Design in the World

    The Consul General of Italy in Los Angeles, Antonio Verde, for the occasion said, “this second edition of the Italian Design Day highlights the Italian effort to create a style that marries functionality and aesthetics with respect for the environment.” The event at the Italian Cultural Institute in Los Angeles was celebrated with several presentations, the opening of an art exhibition, a panel discussion, and an award ceremony.

    Massimo Catalani, one of the 100 testimonials chosen by MAECI as “Ambassadors” of Italian Design in the World, discussed the importance of the chosen theme and was among the winners of the IIC Creativity award, along with  Andrea Capellino and Valerio Berruti.

    "What I like about this year's theme of the Italian Design Day and AIA, is that finally the architects are going back to deal with ecology,” told us Catalani during an interview.

    “We used to have a stable planet and with our vanity and thirst for success and power, we destroyed it. Today we consume twice the amount of the resources the world can give us. It is crucial we collectively halve the exploitation of the planet. And therefore, it is the architect’s duty to not only preserve the environment but improve it” he continued explaining to us. “With the end of the consumeristic and the industrialization model, and the advent of the digital era, architecture must embrace its responsibilities. An architect determines the happiness or the unhappiness of someone who lives in a place. We need to halve the planet's exploitation and as architects we need to have that in mind when we operate."

    Trained as an architect, Massimo Catalani has chosen painting as his expressive form. After his initial exhibitions where he presented large scale triptychs of chili peppers, plates of pasta with zucchini, roman artichokes, and prickly pears  and one solo show in Rome, he exhibited his works in Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, and New York, where he presented “L.I.F.E”, Italy seen through painting of its food. Catalani has collaborated with Greenpeace for two campaigns against the use of GMOs in Parmigiano Reggiano and against nuclear power and for an installation at the Slow Fish Show in Genoa.

    Catalani’s latest works focus on sea life and marine wildlife conservation, against illegal fishing, in fact, he is a keen supporter of protecting the environment and its wildlife.  He worked on a project called “Casa dei Pesci di Grosseto,” where he sculpted a 10-ton block of Carrara marble to fight illegal trawling, unfortunately still practiced. Catalani continues to create works that explore environmental issues.

  • CEO and President of Colavita US, Giovanni Colavita, giving introductory remarks
    Dining in & out

    A Taste of the World with Colavita

    Held in in Little Italy’s The Kitchen Table, a private dining event space for culinary exploration, CEO and President of Colavita USA, Giovanni Colavita and Vice president, California Operations, Paolo Colavita hosted a lunch, prepared by Colavita Master Chef Ken Arnone.

    Olive oil tasting from around the World

    As the tasting began, everyone sat around the large rustic wooden table that filled the room. “It has been almost 10 years that Colavita is present in the US. We initially built a facility in New Jersey, and now we are working on a new one in California.” Giovanni Colavita said in his introductory remarks, “In Italy, we partner with the farmers, who are the real experts, and we support them in any way we can. We have been working with the same families for three generations, establishing a family relationship that is not only based on business. In California, we want to follow the same concept, even though it’s harder. We want to establish a strong relationship with the local producers and shed light to the Californian product.”  he added.

    The lunch started with a tasting of four different Extra Virgin Olive Oils from the Colavita’s World Selection line. Wine newbies and experts alike know that grapes grown in one part of the world taste completely different than grapes grown elsewhere. The same is true for olives. The oil they produce is different from one region to another, too. Nicely numbered and arranged on the four corners of the placemats, the tasting featured extra virgin olive oils from California, Greece, Italy and a special blend of oils from Europe. Olive oils, just like wines, have a very wide variety of flavors and aromas, which are determined by several factors including type of olives, the region, the ripeness of olives, the growing conditions, and the oil storage.

    Chef Arnone explained that usually oil tastings are sipped from special blue glasses that are intended to disguise the color of the oil because it should not impact your judgment on its quality. Other tips Arnone shared with the guests, in order to better taste olive oil, are to make sure to drink some water to have a fresh palate, to cover the glass with your hands to keep it warm, to swirl the cup to allow the aroma of the oil to fill the glass, and to slurp. Do not swallow the oil! Slurping will allow you to pull both oil and air into your mouth to enhance your ability to detect different flavor notes.

    An Olive Oil Based Menu

    The delicious menu featured a variety of recipes developed by Chef Arnone using the Colavita Olive Oils. An Amuse-bouche
    Fennel and Celeriac Soup with Extra Virgin Olive Oil “Mousse” (California EVOO in the soup; “Mousse” consisted of Premium Italian EVOO). As an appetizer, Seafood Crudo Trio (Ora Salmon (Spanish EVOO), Fluke (Greek EVOO), Tuna (Premium Selection EVOO)). Then a mouthwatering entrée, the  “Dal Raccolto” Strozzapreti Pasta with an Extra Virgin Olive Oil Confit of Duck, Escarole, and Pistachios (Duck Confit cooked with California EVOO; Drizzle of Premium Italian on top of the pasta). For the dessert, a Dark Chocolate spiced Extra Virgin Olive Oil Mousse with Blueberry Almond Biscotti (Spanish EVOO in the Mousse; Premium Selection EVOO in the biscotti).

    Colavita —A Family Trusted Brand

    The Colavita family traces its roots to a small town in the Italian region of Molise. Their story began in 1938, when Giovanni and Felice Colavita established a small olive oil mill in the village. After further investments, Oleifici Colavita became one of the top refiners in Italy. In 1977, the second generation of the family decided to expand internationally, and with the help of the Profaci family, in the early 1980’s the family was able to reach new consumers and markets, in countries such as South America, Japan, Canada and the US.

    “We were the first company that introduced Extra virgin olive oil to the US. The consumers, however, were not ready for its strong taste, they were using Canola, which as you all know, has a really flat taste. So, we put effort in educating the consumers and the food industry, and with some good fortune, the Mediterranean diet was introduced in the United States, thus the extra virgin olive oil exploded and we were the only extra virgin olive oil on the shelves” said Giovanni Colavita.

    By the end of the 1980s, Colavita’s brand strengthened in its reputation as a benchmark for Italian quality products worldwide and today Colavita is distributed in over 80 countries and is recognized worldwide as the top authentic Italian extra virgin olive oil.

    In addition to extra virgin olive oil, Colavita authentic Italian specialty products include durum wheat semolina pasta, a full selection of balsamic and wine vinegars, traditional and organic pasta sauces and olive-canola blended oils. Colavita has exclusive rights to import, distribute, and promote brands such as Perugina Baci, Cirio, and San Benedetto.

  • Poem (Wild Geese), 2015. Courtesy of Claudia Palmira
    Art & Culture

    From New York to Rome, the Talent of Claudia Palmira

    American graphic artist, Claudia Palmira, who has been based in Italy since 2006, is among the artists featured in the upcoming exhibition “Artists / Alternatives” in Rome’s prestigious Margutta Home Gallery. Located on the homonymous street in the center of Rome, historically renowned for its artists and galleries, the Margutta Home Gallery is presenting a new group exhibition featuring works by artists such as Elena Drommi, Claudia Bellini and Fabio Ferrone Viola, all of who work in a diverse range of media.

    About Claudia Palmira

    Originally from New York but of Italian descent, Claudia’s great- grandparents on her father’s side emigrated from Italy, and since she was a child she visited the peninsula regularly. “I had seen Rome so many times that I decided to take a sabbatical year from my job as an art director in New York  to live in Rome. I was so captivated by this city, that I decided to stay and build a design agency that encapsulates the visual beauty and craftsmanship of Italy with the innovation and speed of NYC, the combination of my two cities.”

    Claudia graduated from Mt Holyoke College in Massachusetts with a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History and has been exhibited widely in the US and in Italy. Additionally, she has worked with  major companies such as Simon & Schuster, CBS, Comedy Central, Nokia, Bulgari Hotels and many others. 

    Even though Claudia is best known as a graphic designer, she is a multifaceted artist as well as the Vice Chairman of the Italian Academy Foundation and editor of its Italian Journal magazine. After receiving critical acclaim during her last show at New York’s Union League Gallery on Park Avenue, titled “Iconics,” she returns on the other side of the Atlantic to showcase a selection of her works. Her “digital etchings” looks back at cultural icons and forward to the representations and juxtapositions available through new technologies.

    "I attempt to create beauty through the unexpected assemblage of elements and color that can inspire hope through the transcendence of individual parts and their juxtaposition. The layers of visual history that are embodied in ancient urban landscapes speak to me of an ongoing transfiguration," wrote Claudia in her artist statement. 

    The Exhibition

    Thirteen original works from Palmira's Iconics series, in which she straddles representation and abstraction with vibrant colors, will be on display at Margutta Home Gallery along with various works by Elena Drommi, Claudia Bellini and Fabio Ferrone Viola. 

    Elena Drommi is a Roman decorator who adorns fabrics, porcelain, kimonos and decorative objects with her hand painted designs filled with floral and intricate imagery. Claudia Bellini, Italian architect, uses both traditional and more advanced technologies, such as computer rendering and silver- and gold-leaf appliqué, to create her large scale "keyholes" sculptures. Last but not leats, Fabio Ferrone Viola is an acclaimed Italian Pop artist who makes environmental education and recycling his source of inspirationknown for his creations. His works, both figurative and abstract, try to draw attention to the urgency of ecological disaster.

    A portion of the profits will be donated to Anidan Italia Onlus, for their charity project in Kenya. “Artists / Alternatives” is on view through March 25th, 2018 at Margutta Home Gallery in Rome. For More info >>


  • Art & Culture

    From Books to Cascading Waterfalls: a Metamorphosis

    Even as our lives become increasingly digitalized, the beauty of the printed page continues to hold sway, yet it is often overlooked.

    Korean born, Italian based Jukhee Kwon, is a rising new artist who's making a name for herself transmuting discarded books into mesmerizing sculptures, investigating the structure and meaning of such objects.

    The Exhibition

    The artist's first exhibition in New York, aptly titled “Metamorphosis,” opened on January 26 at Ierimonti Gallery and is on view through March 16th. The exhibition features Kwon’s latest sculptures and her most known installations, in which shredded pages break out from their book covers hung on the ceiling, recalling cascading waterfalls.

    “The viewer is encouraged to wander along the paths formed around her sculptures, traveling through an experiential maze of deconstructed and reorganized meaning,” according to Christian Piscitelli, director of the gallery. As you walk through the gallery, there is also an incredible the temptation of wanting to brush your hands against the work and feel the texture of the pages.

    Using a knife, the artist meticulously cuts and slices the pages entangling them back together. The backbone of the book acts like the root of a tree, from which the shreds of paper cascade downwards to the floor and once they reach the floor they form their own root-like structure on the ground.

    A Book's Metamorphosis 

    In her work, Kwon brings the book as an object back to life, but reinvents its purpose and gives it new existence. Kwon’s creations are simultaneously a deconstruction of an object and the recreation of its existence, a metaphor for the cyclical relationship of freedom and restraint, life and death as well as tree and book.

    “Each book has its own personality, and its own story. I investigate these elements, which them become the building blocks for the final outcome; even though they are radically transformed, they are still present and relevant” Kwon stated.

    In addition to Kwon’s large installations, the gallery displays several smaller works, which include a few paper compositions as well as a wonderful sculpture trilogy, made by books of the Italian legislation.

    More About the Artist

    Jukhee Kwon was born and raised in South Korea. After received a Bachelor's Degree in fine art from Chung-Ang University in Anseong, she completed a Master's Degree in book art from Camberwell College of Arts in London,  a program that focuses on the cultural, creative and individual functions of the book. She now lives in Rome, Italy, where she continues to draw inspiration from her everyday surroundings.

    “Her career path led her here, but we chose Jukhee as she chose us, the relationship is reciprocal as we share the same vision. The exhibition, her first ever in the United States, comes at such a propitious time to introduce her brilliant works to the American audience,” said Mr. Piscitelli.

    Revealing that a book’s appearance can be as diverse as its content, Kwon’s sculptures challenge the relationship between the viewer and the everyday object, capturing both the allure and vulnerability of the printed page.

    “Metamorphosis,” is on view at  Ierimonti Gallery, 55 Delancey Street, until March 16, 2018. For more info >>



  • Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Bust of Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino, 1623-24. Marble. Church of the Gesù, Rome. Detail
    Art & Culture

    Baroque Splendors Make their Way to Connecticut

    Founded in 1943 by the Society of JesusFairfield University, Connecticut, is celebrating this year the 75th anniversary of its founding.

    For this occasion Fairfield University’s Art Museum organized  a major international loan exhibition titled The Holy Name, Art of the Gesù: Bernini and his Age along with a series of related programming.

    On view in the Bellarmine Hall Galleries through May 19, 2018, the exhibition features artistic treasures from the Church of the Gesú in Rome, never seen before in the United States.

    To celebrate this landmark exhibition, the Italian Cultural Institute hosted a talk on February 13th with Linda Wolk-Simon, Director and Chief Curator of the Museum, and Xavier Salomon, Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator of The Frick Collection.

    A Counter Reformation Masterwork

    The exhibition’s focus is the Church of the Gesù in Rome, an impressive example of Baroque architecture and Rome's most important Jesuit church.  

    Founded in 1540 by Ignatius of Loyola, a Spanish soldier turned priest, the church aimed to serve as a center for his newly founded Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), which had been recognized that year by the Pope Paul III, born Alessandro Farnese. Unfortunately, St. Ignatius never lived to see the construction, but he was buried under the altar in the left transept, making the church  an important shrine for pilgrims to this day. The first church ever to be named after Jesus, it is a testament to the status and power of the new religious order, whose primary goal was to further the Catholic faith, stopping the spread of Protestantism.

    A Fabulous Treasure of Baroque Art 

    Designed by Jacopo Vignola and Giacomo della Porta, its unique artistic richness makes the Church of Jesus an important chapter in the history of art and one of the most visited monuments in Rome. 

    It’s façade reflects the original very austere Jesuit approach to art, whereas the interior, characterized by movement, bright colors, and contrast of light and dark shows the lavish decoration of the second half of the 17th century. 

    Above the entrance door, there is a shield with IHS (abbreviated name of Jesus in Greek) monogrammed upon it as well as the name of the patron, Alessandro Farnese. The most striking feature of the interior decoration is the illusionistic ceiling fresco of the Triumph of the Holy Name of Jesus painted by Giovan Battista Gaulli 'Baciccio' between 1676 and 1679 (about a century after the church was built). Baciccio was recommended by the great Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who was associated with the the Jesuits for much of his life.

    A Landmark Exhibition 

    One of the biggest attractions is Bernini's bust of Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino (patron saint of Fairfield University) that has never left Rome before. It was Xavier Salomon, who is also on the Art of the Gesù exhibition committee, who inspired the idea to bring Bernini’s marble bust of Fairfield University’s patron saint, from the Gesù to Fairfield, in honor of the University’s 75th anniversary.

    Other masterpieces in the exhibition include Giovanni Battista Gaulli’s monumental painted wood model of the apse, a gilt bronze altar sculpture by the versatile painter, draftsman and sculptor Ciro Ferri, the sumptuous 3-piece jeweled cartegloria from the altar of St. Ignatius, and the magnificent embroidered chasuble of the church’s great benefactor, Alessandro Farnese. These masterpieces are displayed along with paintings, drawings, sculptures, rare books and historical objects lent from museums and private collections, including The Met, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Princeton University Art Museum and more. Together these masterpieces tell the fascinating and intertwined stories of the church’s early history and splendid interior embellishment, and the foundational chapters of the Society of Jesus .

    “If I were still director of the Metropolitan, I would be jealous of Fairfield doing this show,” said Philippe de Montebello, director emeritus of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, who is honorary chair of the exhibition committee.

    The Holy Name. Art of the Gesù: Bernini and his Age will be on display at the Fairfield University Art Museum, located in Bellarmine Hall until May 19.  For more info >>

  • Art & Culture

    Mattotti's first Exhibition opens in NYC

    On February 6th, the Italian Cultural Institute hosted the Opening Reception of a remarkable new exhibition "Lorenzo Mattotti. Covers for The New Yorker" which pays homage to the internationally esteemed Italian illustrator and comic artist Lorenzo Mattotti.

    Curated by Melania Gazzotti, the exhibition features the original pastels created by the artist for 32 covers of The New Yorker as well as a selection of unpublished sketches and drawings, produced over the last twenty years.

    The Opening was celebrated with a glass of Prosecco Doc and was attended by Francesco Genuardi, the Consul General of Italy in New York, Giorgio Van Straten, the director of Italian Cultural Institute, Art Spiegelman, the American cartoonist editor, and comics advocate, and Françoise Mouly, art editor at The New Yorker since 1993 amongst others.

    The Exhibition

    Displayed in the galleries of the former colonial revival William Sloane mansion, Mattotti’s drawings are grouped in 3 major series: The New Yorker covers, in the first floor gallery, an assortment preparatory sketches and a selection of illustrations for articles on fashion, culture and current affairs on the second floor.

    The compilation of the artist’s drawings are a dazzling explosion of bright colors and encapsulate New York’s culture and its most representative scenes.The works are a testament to the great versatility of the artist as well as his creative talent.

    “All of Mattotti’s images pack the graphic punch of a poster by expressing a strong idea through a perfectly poised composition” writes Françoise Mouly in an article.

    The cover from the November 2010 issue of the magazine, “Rite of Fall,” portrays a group of runners racing the iconic New York City Marathon with the city skyline in the background. This image, in fact, so emblematic of New York City, was chosen as the cover for the exhibition catalogue published by #logosedizioni.

    “I often marvel at how an Italian artist who lives in Paris is able to capture the spirit of the world’s most diverse city so perfectly.” stated Mouly in her opening remarks.

    About the Artist

    Born in Brescia, Italy, Mattotti, attended the Faculty of Architecture in Venice. He began his career as comic artist in the late 1970s. He now lives in Paris.

    He earned his fame with his graphic novel “Fires,” a supernatural tale which was published in 1985 and is now a milestone in the history of comics. 

    As an illustrator, Mattotti was present in publicantions like Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, The New Yorker, Le Monde, in as well as in classics, such as Pinocchio, Hansel and Gretel.  In 2003 he received the Eisner Award for his version of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

    Amongst the elements that influenced Mattotti as an artist, Italy and music play an important role. “My roots lie in Italy and it certainly inspires me. I believe that in my drawings there is all the Italian painting culture. I have always loved the great Italians masters such as Giotto, Piero della Francesca, Paolo Uccello, the Metaphysical paintings and so on. Also the colors and the landscapes are inspired by Italian landscapes and scenery. I am not able to draw Paris even though I have been living there for 20 years.” Mattotti told us in an interview. “Much of my work is also influenced by music, I can’t draw without music. I grew up in a period of revolutionary music, and most of the images I saw came from the music album covers” he added.








  • Art & Culture

    Best Places to Visit in 2018: Basilicata Ranks Third

    The New York Times has announced its list of 52 places to go in 2018, and No. 3 is the Italian region of Basilicata. “Easily Italy’s best-kept secret, Basilicata is revered for beautiful beaches, ancient towns and dearth organized crime” wrote the NYT.

    In between the regions of Apulia and Calabria, there is the region of Basilicata, “the arch of Italy’s foot.” The region, also known as Lucania, has been long overlooked in modern times and it was considered as one of the poorest regions of Italy. By the middle of the twentieth century, much of its population had emigrated in search of a better life.

    Dating back to the prehistoric age, Basilicata has been influenced by the Greek, French, Spanish and Arabian Invaders that marched through the land throughout the ages. 

    Filled with small and enchanting villages where the silence and colors of nature detach the visitor from the turmoil of city life, the region offers pure air, genuine flavors and Flintstone-esque architecture.

    A large part of the region is covered by the Apennine mountains which run from the north to the south in the center of Italy. The landscape is also full of hills and deep valleys, including the Pollino National Park (Italian: Parco Nazionale del Pollino), Italy's largest national park, which covers nearly two thousand square kilometers and extends to Calabria.

    The region also has two coastlines, one on the Tyrrhenian Sea between Campania and Calabria, and a longer one on the Ionic coast, along the Gulf of Taranto, between Calabria and Apulia. Both offer wide beaches, either sandy or pebbly, and clear waters.

    The greatest destination in Basilicata is the town of Matera, thought to be one of the world’s oldest towns, dating back as far as the Paleolithic times. The city is known for its remarkable architecture and landscape, such as the cave dwellings of the Sassi -literally the stones- designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. As a matter of fact, Matera was also the chosen setting for Mel Gibson's Blockbuster “The Passion of the Christ” for its fascinating location reminiscent of Biblical times.

    Over the past years, Matera has been undergoing extensive re-development since it was chosen as the 2019’s European Capital of Culture, which will provide the economic platform for a more prosperous future.

    Discover the other Italian places that made the list >>



  • Mappa (Map) — Alighiero Boetti, 1988 Embroidery on linen on stretcher © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome Courtesy Kunstmuseum Basel and Sammlung Goetz, München Photo: Wilfried Petzi, Munich
    Art & Culture

    Celebrating 50 Years of Arte Povera

    It was November 1967, two months after his exhibition “Arte Povera e IM Spazio” at Genoa’s Galleria La Bertesca, that the Italian critic Germano Celant published a manifesto on Flash Art magazine that would theorize and launch the Arte Poveramovement.

    The Origins 

    Literally  translated as ‘poor art’, the title refers to a group of Italian anti-establishment artists who, during the period of turmoil at the end of the 1960s in Italy, attacked the established ideals and the superficial consumer culture with unconventional materials and style.

    The term “poor” was not an indication of cheap, rather a reference to the artists’ use of humble, unconventional often ephemeral materials -wood, dirt, rags, steel, sacks, vegetables- alluding as well to the Polish director Jerzy Grotowski’s concept of “poor theater,” which stripped away lavish costumes and detailed sets and encouraged the actor’s relationship with the audience.

    The poveristi favored an art form that was more conceptual and got rid of unnecessary layers, as a rejection of traditional 'high' art. “Arte Povera was concerned with taking away, eliminating, and downgrading things to a minimum,” said Mr. Celant. 

    Among the core figures associated with the movement are Giovanni Anselmo, Alighiero Boetti, Jannis Kounellis, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Giuseppe Penone, Alberto Burri, Lucio Fontana, Emilio Prini, Pino Pascali, Enrico Castellani, Piero Manzoni, Luciano Fabro, Pier-Paolo Calzolari, Mario Merz, and his wife Marisa Merz, the only female member of Arte Povera.

    The Resurgence: From New York to Europe

    After the Arte Povera exhibition at MoMA PS1 in 1985, they fell under the radar, until in recent years they regained international acclaim. In fact, in 2015, Alberto Burri was the protagonist of a major retrospective at New York's Guggenheim (the last one he had there was in 1978) along with several gallery shows in major cities. This initiated a substantial revival of the movement.

    A little over a year later, the Met Breuer presented the first major retrospective in the United States of Marisa Mertz, followed by the opening of Magazzino Italian Art, a new exhibition space for Italian postwar art in Cold Spring. Their first exhibition was dedicated to the influence and legacy of Margherita Stein, an Italian dealer who dedicated her career to supporting artists from the Arte Povera.

    Exactly fifty years from its inception, Arte Povera seems to have reached its zenith, both in Italy and abroad. The 2017 Turin's Artissima Art Fair featured two special projects that paid tribute to Arte Povera, “the Piper Club” and the “Deposito d’Arte Presente.” Castello Rivoli of Turin unveiled a major retrospective devoted to the work of Gilberto Zorio and the MAXXI museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome presented an exhibition on Piero Gilardi, artist associated with the early Arte Povera movement. Additionally, for the occasion, the Estorick Collection in London had an exhibition on the Italian movement while exploring it’s influence on the contemporary world.

    Simultaneously, on the opposite side of the Atlantic, the celebration of the midcentury movement continues. Luxembourg & Dayan, Hauser & Wirth, Luhring Augustine Gallery and Lévy Gorvy Gallery New York amongst others presented exhibitions that commemorated the semi-centennial of the Arte Povera movement. Along with the several exhibitions, Magazzino Italian Art hosted one of the leading member of the Arte Povera movement, Michelangelo Pistoletto for a re-enactment of his 1967 performance "Scultura da Passeggio" (Walking Sculpture) captivating all who came into contact with it.

    It’s hard to differentiate whether recent attention to Arte Povera comes from the movement’s 50th anniversary, the sociopolitical conditions or the rising prices within the art market. No matter the reason, after decades of insubstantial support the poveristi are finally getting the recognition they deserve, as their work never ceased to be relevant.

  • Laura Mattioli, Founder and President of CIMA
    Art & Culture

    CIMA, a Trailblazer of Italian Modern Art

    The Center of Italian Modern Art is a non-profit exhibition and research center that opened its graceful and airy SoHo loft in the beginning of 2014. According to their mission statement, CIMA aims “to promote public appreciation and advance the study of modern and contemporary Italian art in the United States and internationally.”

    CIMA was founded by curator, art historian, and collector Laura Mattioli. Mattioli graduated with a B.S. in History of Art from Università degli Studi, Milan, and earned her doctorate in History of Art at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan. She taught art history for many years at the University of Milan and the Fine Arts Academy in Bergamo.

    Daughter of the Milanese cotton magnate and art collector Gianni Mattioli, who began collecting as a response against the violence of World War II, Laura grew up surrounded by artworks, many created by Italian Modernists she knew directly. Upon her father’s death, she inherited the collection, and arranged part of it to be deposited long-term at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice

    Organized around the principle of “slow art,” CIMA maintains the characteristics of a home, inspired by Laura's father, who opened his apartment in Milan during the 50's to share his collection with visitors on Sundays. The arrangement encourages an intimate and in-depth experience of the works.  

    Past, Current and Future Exhibitions 

    CIMA organizes and presents annual exhibitions, mainly devoted to artists and works rarely displayed outside of Italy. For its inaugural year, CIMA presented an installation of the work of Italian artist Fortunato Depero, followed by the modernist Medardo Rosso in 2015, Giorgio Morandi in 2016, and Giulio Paolini in relation to Giorgio de Chirico in 2017.

    This year’s exhibition features 25 rarely seen works of Greek-born Italian multidisciplinary artist Alberto Savinio (1891–1952), the younger brother of Giorgio de Chirico who today is practically unknown outside of Italy.

    "It is easier for us today to grasp the great creativity of this character since we are able to look at the past with a contemporary vision and mindset " Laura tells us.

    Besides being a brilliant painter and a key contributor to the movement known as Metaphysical Art (Pittura Metafisica), Savinio was also talented in the fields of music, theater and literature. 

    The works on display span a 10 year period, from the late 1920s through the 1930s, when Savinio abandoned his other creative talents to dedicate himself fully to painting. The exhibition "explores two major themes in the artist’s oeuvre: the expressive power of imagined landscapes and the fraught emotional terrain of family life".

    Alberto Savinio is a pseudonym the artist adopted at the age of 23 to disguise his real name, Andrea Francesco Alberto de Chirico, so that he would not be eclipsed by his older and more famous brother, Giorgio de Chirico. During the lecture Giorgio de Chirico and Alberto Savinio: Two Brothers in Reciprocal Conflict hosted at CIMA, art historian and critic Renato Barilli explains how the troubled relationship between the de Chirico brothers came into being.

    Much of the brothers' youth was spent abroad, in Athens, Munich and Paris, where they both made a name for themselves. However, while Giorgio was directed towards the studies of painting, Alberto studied music. His mother tried to forbid him from being a painter in order to avoid any competition with his sibling, Barilli clarifies, and this caused him great suffering and is the reason why he started painting much later than Giorgio.

    Savinio’s paintings, produced after he moved to Paris in 1926, share many of his brother’s haunting themes such as eerie spaces, mythological subjects and bizarre hybrid figures, in strange juxtapositions. However, even though the two brothers closely shared certain themes, Savinio succeeded in developing his own individual expression. His desire for escapism and aesthetic liberation propelled him to excel as an artist.  

    “The CIMA Scientific Committee chose Savinio as the subject of this year's studies because it considers him an artist of particular interest to be rediscovered, therefore perfect for the mission of the foundation, but also for his activity in different cultural fields” Laura Mattioli told us. “We hope that this choice will help CIMA to open up to a wider audience, for example, to those who are interested in music or literature” she continued.

    Next year’s exhibition will be dedicated to Marino Marini, with particular attention to the Venus, and curated by Prof. Flavio Fergonzi, Laura Mattioli revealed. Marini is another example of an Italian artist who was well known in the United States in the 1950s, but is now forgotten. After  New York, this exhibition will travel to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

    CIMA's dedication to supporting Education 

    Another principal aspect of CIMA is their educational focus to support the study of Italian modern and contemporary art. Each year, they award a number of young scholars pursuing pre-doctoral and post-doctoral study of 20th-century Italian art, who use the annual exhibitions as the theme for their fellowship program as well as lead guided exhibition tours. The program has already expanded from supporting two fellows to a total of five fellows today. 

    The 2017-18 fellows are Giulia Tulino and Serena Alessi, for the fall season, Elena Salza, for the academic year, Alice Ensabella, for the spring season and Valeria Federici, CIMA’s Travel Fellow. 

    In addition, the center offers a variety of educational programs including lectures, readings, tours, artist-led drawing nights, family programs, screenings, and performances.

    “CIMA is trying to grow. The programs with middle school children were those who gave us the greatest satisfaction last year. We try to differentiate our programs for different types of public and not remain a place only for specialists. It is a big commitment, but it is our mission.” said Mattioli.

    Italian Modern Art conquering the world

    The opening of CIMA in 2014, the retrospective dedicated to Alberto Burri at the Guggenheim Museum in 2015, many gallery exhibitions dedicated to Italian artists, and opening of Magazzino Italian Art in 2017, show confidence about the international interest for Italian Modern and Contemporary art. Indices for many Italian contemporary artists, especially those belonging to the Arte Povera or Transavanguardia movements, have been increasing significantly in the art market. Hence, the question then is, why 20th and 21st century Italian art and why now? 

    “First of all, Italian post-war artworks can circulate freely on the international market without the risk of being declared "national heritage" by law, which would force them within the Italian territory with heavy ministerial constraints, as is the case for all the archaeological objects and the works made in earlier times that are found in our country. Secondly, the works of the most important American, German or English artists are now rare and have reached extremely high prices, which only a limited group of particularly wealthy collectors can afford. The prices of Italian artists already historicized, which are therefore a safe investment, are instead far more accessible. Thirdly, post-war Italian art has almost always had a strong and explicit political and social vocation, linked to the complexities of our country, somewhere on the border between NATO and the USSR. This political commitment, I believe, is felt today as particularly interesting in America in the present situation” explained Laura Mattioli. Thus, these Italian modern artworks can still be considered bargains compared to American modernist paintings and the many U.S. collectors who are now purchasing them, perhaps ignored non-American artists for decades.

    However, she added "Although the Italians traditionally are big collectors who regularly attend fairs and museums all over the world, they do not have the same purchasing power as individuals from economically stronger nations or countries with emerging economies.”


    Alberto Savinio, on view through 23 June 2018, The Center for Italian Modern Art, 421 Broome Street, 4th floor, New York, NY, 646-370-3596

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