With the return to the Italian Capital of an event meant to be a rallying point for modern and contemporary art, plus a showcase for visual art in general, it is worth considering Rome’s role, and the potential of that role in the near future, on the international art scene.
With its distinctive international bent, Rome has always enchanted the imaginations of the countless artists who have made it a required stop on their grand tours, both yesterday and today, drawn by the irresistible force of attraction built into the city’s DNA, as well as its legion of institutions for training creative talents and promoting art today. Thanks to its academies and institutes of foreign culture – more numerous than in any other city – Rome enjoys dynamic relations with both neighbouring countries and lands far removed from Italy, including Japan and the United States, but also Egypt and Brazil.
For much of the second half of the twentieth century, Rome was a city that forged currents of thought destined to revolutionise today’s art, paving the way for what eventually became “schools”. Examples that immediately come to mind include Jannis Kounellis (who arrived in Rome from Greece, in 1960) and his 12 live horses exhibited in Fabio Sargentini’s Atticio gallery; or the ability of Tano Festa or Franco Angeli to transform Roman symbols into universal Pop Art manifestos; Fabio Mauri was a pioneer in recasting episodes of Italian politics in terms of art; the work presented at the La Tartaruga and the La Salita galleries, as well as the Pieroni gallery, led to the development of the most striking forms of avant-garde art, which still shine forth today.
In recent years, Public Art has sought to give outlying areas a new identity through contemporary artworks, while numerous private foundations have arisen in the city, further contributing to the cultural profile of art in Rome.
In terms of its museums, Rome has not just the MAXXI and the MACRO, but an entire galaxy of institutions that rotate around the Superintendence of Cultural Assets.
As we all know, Rome is a crossroads of the collective imagination, thanks in part to fashion, but even more so to films, which have supplied us with powerful, poetic images, characters that have become immortal, lines that still have a cathartic effect. From the colossal epics of the Cinecittà Studio to Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty”, with scenes from Italian life played along the way by actors the calibre of Mastroianni, Sordi, Gassman and Nanni Moretti, the image of Rome has been sculpted in the eyes of all us, giving everybody the chance to edit a private film from their favourite ingredients of this unique human and cultural panorama.
Given Rome’s unquestioned strengths, renewed consideration should be given to its potential for creating art, for hosting the activities of collectors, for being a market open not only to the rest of Italy, but to the Mediterranean area and Europe, as well as other places that have always maintained a dialogue with Italy.
The series of talks will view Rome’s identity through its institutions, both public and private, examining them from the “outside” as well, in order to understand how best to structure a “Rome-system” that proves competitive (as could be the case, and truly so, given all the city’s resources).
And all this without forgetting the identity of the fair and its own guiding principles, which regard collecting and communicating art, explaining why one of the talks will focus on the delicate knot that ties art to the reigning systems of communication – widely transformed by internet and the social media of today – and to the tools and knowledge of law and tax affairs which, being intimately involved in the sale of artworks, allow collectors to operate in a knowledgeable, well-informed manner.
Friday 19 November
ART IN ROME: A PUBLIC AND PRIVATE AFFAIR
The only city with a state-operated museum devoted to the art of the 21st century, as well as a myriad of other major public institutions, Rome has also witnessed, over the last two decades, the growth of numerous private foundations, plus new working arrangements with other private-sector entities, including Fendi’s promotion of the Borghese Gallery. Two talks address the most noteworthy initiatives, problems and synergies to be found on the Italian Capital’s cultural scene.
LAW AND THE MARKET: THE ART BONUS, TAX AFFAIRS AND VAT
What does it mean to sell, buy and support art in the country with the highest VAT rate in Europe? What tools are there for safeguarding interests and, at the same time, avoiding situations of borderline legality? How can the newly introduced art bonus be used to create a virtuous circle in support of younger artists? A panel of experts offers their experience and knowledge on the topics.
Saturday 20 November
ART IN ROME: A PUBLIC AND PRIVATE AFFAIR
More than just state-operated museums: no city in the world has as many foreign academies as Rome, which also boasts one of the largest groups of private foundations working to support art of any city in Italy. What is the role of these extra-territorial cultural outposts, and what motivates a collector to create a foundation, some of which work hand-in-hand with foreign academies, while others act as liaisons with public entities, though more often than not they operate independently? Rome’s leading figures in the sector discuss these and other points.
ART AND COMMUNICATION: NEW MEDIA, SOCIAL MEDIA AND PUBLISHING
Print reviews, on-line reviews, blogs, facebook, instagram, plus the new-entry Tik Tok, the social media that appears to have routed the competition with its self-produced video clips: the communication of art (and of art fairs as well) is an increasingly complex, competitive activity. What are the best strategies for survival in this vast field, where whoever is more persuasive and scandalous seems to come out on top? What will become of in-depth, critical consideration, not to mention the very idea of art, when the game is played with claims not even the length of an SMS? Observations are offered by figures who, over the years, have used various styles to ride the waves of this rising tide.
Sunday 21 November
AN OPEN SPACE FOR THE ROME OPEN CITY PROJECT
Raffaella Frascarelli and Sabrina Vedovotto present a year’s worth of work carried out in the greater Rome area, most of it involving artist’s studios and non-profit spaces.
Participants include, among others:
Raffaella Frascarelli Sciarretta