Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rome show commemorates Palma Bucarelli

Rome's National Gallery of Modern Art (GNAM) is celebrating the 20th-century Italian art critic Palma Bucarelli. Bucarelli, who was GNAM superintendent for 34 years, turned the museum into an international attraction and helped popularize contemporary trends in Italy and abroad. The exhibition commemorates the centenary of her birth with over 150 display items.

The main attractions will be Italian 20th-century painting and sculpture masterpieces but the exhibition will also feature everyday mementos of Bucarelli's life, including photographs, music and evening dresses. Mariastella Margozzi, the exhibit's curator, highlighted her support for Italian art. ''She managed to select the best Italian art of the post-war period and bring it to public attention abroad, through collective exhibitions supported by the Foreign Ministry around the world,'' said Margozzi. But as well as taking Italian art abroad, she also promoted an interest in foreign art in Italy. ''She introduced the Italian public to the new, abstract informal art by highly prestigious European and American artists,'' said Margozzi. The curator cited exhibitions on Pablo Picasso (1953), Piet Mondrian (1956) and Jackson Pollock (1958) as particularly popular events organized by Bucarelli.

Bucarelli - who was once described as being ''as famous as a movie star and as talked about as a politician'' - was renowned for her love of controversy.

One move that created particular outrage was her decision to showcase some of the 90 tin cans in a 1961 series by Piero Manzoni, 'Artist's Shit'.

The cans, which purportedly contained Manzoni's excrement, even triggered a debate in the Italian parliament at the time - but the fact that can number 19 recently sold for 80,000 dollars are a sign of Bucarelli's accurate instinct.

Bucarelli acquired a number of now priceless works for the GNAM, including masterpieces by Gustav Klimt and Vincent Van Gogh.

Bucarelli also built up one of the best collections of Italian modern classics in the world, largely due to her networking skills and lasting friendships, which brought donations of works by names such as Lucio Fontana and Alberto Burri. GNAM Director Maria Vittoria Marini Clarelli said one of Bucarelli's most lasting achievements had been positioning the GNAM within an international network of museums that recognized the important of modernity. ''She had a museum-centric vision of the contemporary art system, a view that placed the museum at the core of art,'' she said. Palma Bucarelli: Il Museo Come Avanguardia (Palma Bucarelli: The Museum as Avant-Garde) runs at the GNAM until November 1.

ANSA photo: Bucarelli with sculptor Giacomo Manzu

For more about Italian Arts visit Italian Arts television channel.

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