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MAXXI FUORI TUTTO, Lisetta Carmi, Collezione Fotografia MAXXI

text Francesca Lombardi

September 27, 2023

The most beautiful exhibitions of autumn in Rome

From Rubens to the great names of the contemporary

Autumn in Rome, and the return of great art. We begin with a joint venture in celebration of Rubens: Fondazione Palazzo Te, Palazzo Ducale di Mantova and Galleria Borghese come together for an ambitious project that commemorates the painter born in the late 16th century who was so profoundly inspired by classical culture that he left an indelible mark on Italian and European courts. Rubens! The Birth of European Art is an initiative that brings together three exhibitions, including one in Rome, the last of the three only in order of time: from 14 November to 18 February, Galleria Borghese presentsThe Touch of Pygmalion. Rubens and Sculpture in Rome, which explores how the influences of Rubens’ time in Italy in the first decade of the 17th century gained decisive new vigour in the years following his return to his homeland, thanks partly to Italian trips made by his Flemish pupils. The project highlights the artist’s extraordinary contribution, on the threshold of the Baroque period, to a new conception of the ancient, nature and imitation, turning the spotlight on the striking newness of his style in his first decade in Rome and how his study of models could be understood as a further impulse towards a new way of making images.

Pieter Paul Rubens, Study of the Torso Belvedere, Galleria Borghese

Galleria Borghese also offers the unprecedented opportunity to see Bernini’s great statuary groups; sculpture both ancient and modern, often the work of foreign artists, in direct relation with Rubens’ paintings and drawings, drawing on the energy with which he invested the masterpieces of antiquity. And now a leap of 300 years to the beginning of the 20th century: 100 years since his first visit to Rome in 1923, Escher returns to the capital with the largest and most comprehensive exhibition ever dedicated to him, at Palazzo Bonaparte. A restless, introverted and undoubtedly gifted Dutchman, Escher is an artist whose engravings and lithographs had, and continue to have, a unique ability to take us to an impossible imaginary world where art mixes with mathematics, science, physics and design. A versatile artist, discovered relatively recently thanks to his ability to appeal to an extremely wide audience, his works encompass a vast range of subjects - art, but also maths and science, and are therefore utterly unique in art history.

M.C. Escher Hand with Reflecting Sphere (Self-Portrait in Spherical Mirror). From the exhibition: Escher, Palazzo Bonaparte

This exceptional exhibition in Rome is a major anthology of some 300 works including the iconic Hand with Reflecting Sphere(1935), Bond of Union (1956), Metamorphosis II (1939), Day and Night (1938), the celebrated Emblemata series, and many other pieces, some previously unseen. Following numerous trips to Italy starting with a visit to Tuscany in 1921, Escher arrived in Rome, where he stayed for 12 years, from 1923 to 1935, at 122 Via Poerio in the Monteverde Vecchio area. His Roman period strongly influenced all his subsequent work, which included the prolific production of lithographs and engravings, particularly of landscapes, architecture and views of the ancient and Baroque Rome which he loved to explore at its most intimate time - at night, by the feeble light of a lamp. The nights spent drawing, seated on a folding chair and with a small torch attached to his jacket, are recorded by Escher as his most wonderful memories of the period. Indeed, on display at Palazzo Bonaparte will also be the complete series of 12 night views of Rome, produced in  1934. An extraordinary working site open to the public: this is Fuori Tutto, the new setting for the Maxxi Collection. Conceived and designed as an open archive for the works in the collection, with a focus on new acquisitions of the past five years, the exhibition is distributed among several spaces of the museum: Gallery 1, Gallery 3, the Video Gallery, the Archive Wall and the Sala Claudia Gianferrari. Entering Gallery 1 on the ground floor, visitors are greeted by Marcello Maloberti’s light sculpture Senza saperlo la notte immaginava il giorno, Elisabetta Benassi’s La città sale and the large tapestry Ocean, Mother and Life by Abdoulaye Konaté.

MAXXI, FUORI TUTTO, Hassan Hajjaj (photo M3Studio)

In the next room is a magnificent video installation by MASBEDO Protocol no. 90/6, an iconic work produced by In Between Art Film for the Manifesta 12 event in Palermo (2018). Continuing, one has the growing impression of entering a place not usually accessible to the public, thanks to an original layout featuring tall metal racks reminiscent of those used in the museum’s store rooms. In this exhibition, iconic pieces that have contributed to the success of some of the MAXXI’s most acclaimed contemporary art shows  alternate with previously unseen new acquisitions, and works by grand masters of contemporary art dialogue with those of younger generations. For example, the Produttivo installations (2018-2019) by Giorgio Andreotta Calò and On the corner where we stand by Patrick Tuttofuoco, sit alongside works by undisputed masters of our age and genuine pillars of the MAXXI collection such as Jannis Kounellis, Fabio Mauri and Michelangelo Pistoletto. Looking towards the final wall of the gallery, we see the lights of Where Angels Fear to Tread (2007), the five-pointed star made with flashing police car lights by Kendell Geers.

MAXXI, FUORI TUTTO - Lisetta Carmi, I travestiti, Collezione Fotografia MAXXI

In Gallery 3 next door, the display is wholly dedicated to new acquisitions in the Architecture collection. For over three months, the MAXXI’s Video Gallery has accompanied the exhibition with a roundup of videos from the collection. To coincide with this show, the Sala Claudia Gian Ferrari presents the first In Restauro event, a new series of initiatives designed to showcase and make accessible one of the most fascinating of the museum’s activities, normally not visible to the public. The first date is the restoration of the major work Sternenfallby Anselm Kiefer.

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