Opening times: from Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Closed on Mondays
Information and reservations:
tel. 334 8283744 – 334 8283717
Suspended because of the Covid-19 lockdown, the exhibition LA RIVOLUZIONE SIAMO NOI. Collezionismo italiano contemporaneo (WE ARE THE REVOLUTION. Contemporary art collecting in Italy), reopen from 26 September 2020 to 10 January 2021, at XNL Piacenza Contemporanea – a cultural centre devoted entirely to contemporary art, created in the Ex-Enel building belonging to the Fondazione di Piacenza e Vigevano.
XNL is the outcome of the renovation of an industrial building – the former seat of the Enel electricity board, located at 36 via Santa Franca – built in the early twentieth century and of particular architectural worth, which is now restored to the city as somewhere to tell the story of our times.
LA RIVOLUZIONE SIAMO NOI is curated by Alberto Fiz, organised by the Fondazione di Piacenza e Vigevano, and sponsored by MiBACT – the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and for Tourism – of the Region of Emilia-Romagna. The exhibition design is by Michele De Lucchi and AMDL CIRCLE and technical assistance was provided by the Mantua Campus of the Politecnico di Milano. It presents more than 150 works, including paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos and installations by creators such as Piero Manzoni, Maurizio Cattelan, Marina Abramović, Tomás Saraceno, Andy Warhol, Bill Viola, Dan Flavin and William Kentridge, from 18 art collections that number among the most important in Italy, and offers an across-the-board look at movements, styles and trends in contemporary art.
The exhibition itinerary continues in the Ricci Oddi Gallery of Modern Art – adjacent to the XNL space – where a series of works by artists such as Ettore Spalletti, Wolfgang Laib, Fabio Mauri, Gregor Schneider and Pietro Roccasalva interact with the collection of nineteenth- and twentieth-century masterpieces amassed by Piacenza businessman and art collector Giuseppe Ricci Oddi that serves as an underlying model for comparison.
The aim of the show is not to compile a ranking, but rather, if anything, to offer an overall experience of private collecting in the light of a pursuit that involves established classic artists such as Giorgio Morandi, Alberto Burri, Lucio Fontana, Fausto Melotti, Robert Morris, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Mario Merz, Keith Haring, Gerhard Richter, Daniel Buren, William Kentridge, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Giuseppe Penone (whose site-specific work created specifically for the exhibition will be on show) and continues with the most interesting contemporary works by artists such as Ghada Amer, Sislej Xhafa, Roberto Cuoghi, Zang Huan, Tobias Rehberger, Thomas Hirschhorn, Teresa Margolles and Zanele Muholi, in accordance with a plan drawn up in agreement with the collectors.
The exhibition documents the whole phenomenon of art collecting through the events of the past fifty-plus years. The result is an enormous group overview, a ‘collection of collectors’ linked to the predilections and tastes of our times, that allows the visitor to enter into an extraordinary private museum, overflowing with surprises, and arranged by a curator who has established an empathetic relationship with the collectors who are thus freed from all self-referential temptation.
According to Massimo Toscani, the Chairman of the Fondazione di Piacenza e Vigevano, “Centro XNL is an ideas factory that is now finally able to work for the benefit of Piacenza and of the art world in Italy, for which it hopes to establish itself as another new tool for the critical analysis of contemporary culture, in conjunction with the existing public and private institutions.”
“The opening of Centro XNL,” adds Toscani, “is an unprecedented event for our city: indeed, it is the first time that a project aimed specifically at contemporary culture has taken shape and come to fruition in a space that is open to all kinds of new approaches.”
As Alberto Fiz remarks, “La rivoluzione siamo noi analyses the role of the collector seen as a Third Millennium patron, but also as an organiser of chaos and creator of a new form of design approach in which the collector him- or herself assumes responsibility. In this way, the collector is not merely an acquirer of art works, but through his or her choices takes on a leading role in public life.”
“The title of the exhibition”, Alberto Fiz continues, “is taken from Maurizio Cattelan’s installation La rivoluzione siamo noi in which the artist, with narcissistic gratification, self-deprecatingly hangs a likeness of himself from a coat-hook, dressed in a felt suit similar to that worn by Joseph Beuys, who in 1972 produced a highly politicised work with the same title. The elements that the two works have in common are solitude and taking an individual stance, both behaviours that, very often, also involve the collector.”
The show is accompanied by video interviews with the collectors that have been combined into a single recording produced by Roberto Dassoni and Eugenio Gazzola. The multidisciplinary function of the new exhibition space will also be put to good use in the numerous side events coordinated by Giorgio Milani, such as the film exhibition curated by Marco Senaldi and a series of talks with collectors, artists, critics and art historians, curated by Alberto Fiz. There will also be concerts and plays, as well as guided tours and an educational programme aimed at schools.
Piacenza’s tribute to Italian art collecting does not simply highlight its vitality and foresight, but seems even more significant in a country where this extensive and widespread collecting phenomenon has made it possible to make up for institutional shortcomings by becoming the fundamental means for sharing and spreading contemporary art. Today, this process is more apparent than ever, with collectors who often – in their role as partners of museums or through foundations, donations, loans or archives – share an experience that once remained jealously guarded in inaccessible spaces.
La rivoluzione siamo noi makes it possible to reconcile both the spectacular element and the more intimate and touching one, creating a relationship between the works, the artists and the stimulus behind the collecting, as shown through the show’s eight sections – Complicità [Complicity], Domestiche alterazioni [Domestic alterations], Rovesciare il Mondo [Overturn the world], Enigma [Enigma], L’altro visto da sé [The Ecstasy of Communication], Controllare il caos [Controlling chaos], Esplorazioni [Explorations] and Spazi di Monocromia [Monochrome Spaces] – with each section showing a collection in a context enhanced by cross-references, hints and temporal disjunctions.
The exhibition itinerary begins with complicity, or in other words with the dialogue between collector and artist that can be seen clearly through a series of “portraits – dedications” that engage Ernesto Esposito in a provocative and ambiguous image by Helmut Newton or depict Paolo Consolandi and his family immortalised by Thomas Struth. While Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo is portrayed by Clegg & Guttmann in a standing pose, wearing a piece of nineteen-fifties American jewellery, Alessandro Mendini’s version of the Proust armchair displaying an image of Giuliano Gori’s face is set next to a mechanical tree. Then there is Michelangelo Pistoletto’s reflective silkscreen image of Giovanni and Clara Floridi, or the outline of Natalina Remotti’s face drawn by Eduardo Arroyo. These are followed by Barry X Ball’s lapis lazuli sculpture dedicated to Laura Mattioli, the portrait of Giorgio Fasol painted in an artificially naturalistic context by Matteo Fato, an intimate photograph of the Palmigiano family staged by Alice Ronchi with a poem by Giorgio Gaber, or Thorsten Kirchhoff’s ironic vertical composition depicting the Leggeri family and their dog.
Domestiche alterazioni [Domestic alterations]
The home environment and everything linked to it, from furnishings to food, undergoes a profound transformation with tongue-in-cheek and bizarre results. The itinerary leads past Aldo Mondino’s Torre di torrone, Wim Delvoye’s floor-mop buckets preserved like precious jewels, and Giulia Piscitelli’s latex clothes. Here we also find Armando Testa’s Sedia antropomorfa on which the Italian flag appears, or a leopard slinking among hundreds of cups of cappuccino in the photograph by Paola Pivi. And lastly, as the title bachi da setola suggests, psychedelic-coloured dust-brushes are transformed into silkworms by Pino Pascali, reinventing the imaginary through the real.
Rovesciare il Mondo [Overturn the World]
The title is inspired by a work (Mondo alla rovescia) about suspended time by Lara Favaretto, but extends to fundamentally important social and political issues that range from climate change with Katja Novitskova’s hybridised bear, to Sislej Xhafa’s migrant boat formed of thousands of shoes, and the famous performance enacted by Marina Abramović at the 1997 Venice Biennale (a large photo of this event is displayed in the exhibition), during which the artist used a ritual of purification as a means to denounce the horrors committed during the Balkan war.
Unfathomable mystery is the common thread that links the pursuit of the collectors and the artists’ explorations. Alongside the relationship between Giorgio de Chirico and Giulio Paolini, this section shows the alchemical pictorial accounts of Gino De Dominicis, as well as Emilio Prini’s Oggetti a scomparsa totale, Joseph Kosuth’s conceptual wanderings and the luminous “icons” of Dan Flavin. All of this takes place through a series of other symbolic statements, such as Francesco Clemente’s homage to the philosopher Michel Foucault, the cosmogonic and mythological reconstruction of the universe by Matthew Barney or the metaphysical space typified by Anish Kapoor’s two large sculptures. Another part of the enigma is Ahmet Ögüt’s three-dimensional puzzle in which life-size figures can be moved at will by the viewers.
L’altro visto da sé [The Ecstasy of Communication]
“We have to continually prove to ourselves that we exist” wrote Jean Baudrillard in the pamphlet that gives this section its name. Here, the destinies of the artists and collectors meet in a series of works that go beyond mere representation. From Cindy Sherman to Luigi Ontani, passing by Barbara Kruger, Zhang Huan and Bill Viola, we encounter an exploration and redefinition of the subject. While Sarah Lucas plays with the disappearance of the figure, Francesco Vezzoli’s embroideries place the Hollywood divas under the spotlight, along with Mario Ceroli’s cut-out anonymous figures that pass each other on a staircase.
Controllare il caos [Controlling chaos]
The various linguistic models presented in this section are all linked by a single unifying element; that of expressing the dynamic energy inherent in matter by means of an action that may be different each time. While Daniel Buren, using a repeated visual tool, liberates the observer’s imagination, Lucio Fontana goes beyond the limits of painting in a continual yearning towards the infinite. The Controllare il caos section also displays rationalist demands that nonetheless possess a paradoxical element (Sol LeWitt, Fabrizio Plessi, Piero Fogliati, Tatsuo Miyajima) alongside more emotive processes; works by Keith Haring, Ellen Gallagaher, Ben, and Damien Hirst depict the horror vacui, while the enduring relationship with physical matter defines the work of Jannis Kounellis and Tony Cragg. Finally, Mario Merz, in his five-metre tall work I giganti boscaiuoli, seeks the archetypal principles that regulate the universe.
In the central staircase of the Spazio XNL, Tomás Saraceno’s aerial garden composed of 60 “cushions” floating in the air welcomes visitors in the context of a journey that represents yet another crossover point between the collectors’ search and that of the artists. The journey, as mentioned in the title of Fausto Melotti’s lyric sculpture (Il viaggio); the cosmic nest, as Nicola De Maria calls it in his Nido cosmico; and propagation, as seen in the site-specific installation Propagazione created by Giuseppe Penone specifically for the show: all these offer a series of reflections on our “staying in the world”, with works ranging from the world maps by Roberto Cuoghi and Mona Hatoum, to the reworked Mercedes prototype by Tobias Rehberger or Gianni Piacentino’s anti-functionalist vehicle. This wide-ranging section also includes a tapestry by William Kentridge depicting a mysterious rider travelling towards the promised land, two images of Vesuvius by Andy Warhol and the over-painted photographic landscapes by Gerhard Richter. Giovanni Anselmo also makes an appearance, along with Luciano Fabro and Piero Gilardi, with his ode to freedom, Entrare nell’opera, in which he seems to lead the visitor towards an endless field.
Spazi di Monocromia [Monochrome Spaces]
The final section covers a crucial series of works on the theme of monochromy that are displayed in the Galleria Ricci Oddi premises. It focuses on one of the most frequently investigated themes of the twentieth century, and creates a dialogue with the works in the permanent collection gathered by Ricci Oddi, with particular reference to Medardo Rosso’s sculptures. The investigation covers works by Piero Manzoni, Enrico Castellani, Mario Schifano, Fabio Mauri, Gregor Schneider, and Ettore Spalletti with side notes on the art of Wolfgang Laib, Domenico Bianchi, Marco Bagnoli and Remo Salvadori. This monochromy becomes a challenge for the most recent generation of artists, with Wyatt Kahn’s illusionistic works that are somewhere between 2D and 3D, Stefano Arienti‘s installations of overturned posters, the specks of smog forming a uniform surface in Le ceneri di Milano by Luca Vitone, and Pietro Roccasalva’s neon tube light that extends nearly seven metres through space in a tribute to Lucio Fontana. The classical component of the investigation is represented by the American artist Barry X Ball’s black Carrara marble sculpture and by Mimmo Jodice’s photograph that offers a memory of the past through a fragment of a head found at Herculaneum. Finally, on Alberto Garutti’s white marble, we see the words “tutti i passi che ho fatto nella mia vita mi hanno portato qui, ora” [“all the steps I have taken in my life have brought me here, now”] which one might consider to be a message addressed to the collectors.
The bilingual (English and Italian) catalogue published by Silvana Editoriale is presented in the form of a monograph on the world of art collecting. Along with photos of all the works exhibited and an essay by the curator Alberto Fiz, the book also contains a series of articles by Milovan Farronato, Elio Grazioli, Giorgio Milani, Elena Pontiggia, Stefano Salis, Marco Senaldi and Alessia Zorloni. Together with statements by Laura Mattioli, Claudio Palmigiano and Gemma Testa, it will also share Eugenio Gazzola’s interviews of all the collectors participating in the exhibition.
The exhibition forms part of the Piacenza 2020 programme, a lavish calendar of cultural events promoted by the Comune di Piacenza, the Fondazione di Piacenza e Vigevano, the Diocese of Piacenza-Bobbio and the Piacenza Chamber of Commerce, all on the chosen theme of “Crossroads of Cultures”.
Opening times: from Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Closed on Mondays
Information and reservations:
tel. 334 8283744 – 334 8283717