Contemporary art in Umbria
Visitors to Umbria interested in contemporary art should begin their itinerary in Città di Castello, home to the collection of the great Alberto Burri. Composed of works donated by the artist to the Palazzo Albizzini Foundation, the collection is currently housed at two different locations, Palazzo Albizzini – in Via Albizzini 1 – and at the former tobacco drying plant in Via Pierucci. Universally recognised as one of the world’s most important post-War artists, Burri abandoned traditional painting methods in the 1950s in favour of unconventional materials, exploring the full expressive potential of everyday and industrial substances such as sack cloth, steel, plastic, wood and Cellotex.
In Perugia 20th century art left its mark in the form of a group of young artists who, at the beginning of the century, decided to rebel against the teachings of the fine arts academy and embrace the theories of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the founder of the Futurist movement. The undisputed leader of these Umbrian Futurists was Gerardo Dottori, who was also among the founders of Aeropainting. Dottori’s innovation was to combine Futurist theories with his representations of the Umbrian countryside, mostly viewed from a great height. Some of his best known works such as the Trittico della Velocità are currently housed in Palazzo della Penna, a patrician town house in Perugia that has recently undergone major restoration works.
The magnificent Villa Fidelia just outside Spello houses an interesting and unusual collection of contemporary art and runs temporary shows throughout the year.
Right in the old town centre of Trevi, a small Medieval town not far from Spoleto, the 16th century Palazzo Lucarini houses the Trevi Flash Art Museum of Contemporary Art, with temporary shows, solo and group shows of works by leading artists on the Italian and international panorama. The museum was founded in 1992 after an agreement was reached between the Trevi town council and Giancarlo Politi. It usually runs between six and seven shows the year round.
In Spoleto itself, the magnificent state rooms of Palazzo Collicola have housed the Galleria Civica di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea since 2000. Four out of the museum’s fifteen rooms are devoted to sculptures by the Spoleto-born artist Leoncillo, although the nucleus of the entire collection is made up of works acquired during the Premio Spoleto art review that ran from 1953 to 1968. These include pieces by some of Italy’s greatest 20th century artists such as Mario Ceroli, Pino Pascali (one of his best known installations, Il Mare, completed in 1966). The American Conceptual artist Sol Le Witt, who had a particular affection for Spoleto and resided in the city on several occasions, has been granted an entire room.
Besides its Pinacoteca Comunale “Orneore Metelli”, housed in the 18th century Palazzo Gazzoli, Terni boasts a number of industrial archaeology sites. Dedicated to the Naif painter Orneore Metelli, Terni’s town art gallery contains the highlights of the city’s artistic production from the 19th and 20th century, particularly from the artistically flourishing period of the 1930s.
With a varied industrial tradition that included proto-industry, textiles, machinery, steel working and chemical and electric plants, Terni’s landscape has been transformed over the past two centuries and offers much for the tourist interested in this particular form of heritage. The Province of Terni and the Regione Umbria intend to create an open air museum of Terni’s industrial heritage by restoring it and converting buildings for alternative cultural purposes. Much of this plan has already been implemented, such as the chemical-electric plant of Papigno, on the left bank of the river Nera, whose older warehouses have been converted for use as film studios and were used by Roberto Benigni to shoot his La vita è bella and Pinocchio.
"Umbria...Cuore verde d’Italia. Umbria Percorsi d'arte", Agenzia di Promozione turistica dell'Umbria, Perugia, pg. 60, by kind permission.
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