Roots & routes

Showcasing and mapping out contemporary art in Italy

When thinking about Italian art what comes to mind is almost exclusively art from the past. With fifty UNESCO sites, the largest number of World Heritage Convention protected sites, and more than 3,400 museums and 2,000 archaeological sites, Italy has the largest cultural heritage in the world, boasting great names that have influenced generations of artists.

Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raffaello, Caravaggio, and Modigliani are but a few of the numerous geniuses that have left a world-renowned legacy. During the second half of the XX Century, Italy was home to talents like Modigliani, Guttuso, De Chirico, and groups of artists such as those belonging to the school of Arte Povera, Transavantgarde and Metaphysical Art or was inspired by international movements such as Pop Art.

Italy’s contemporary artists retain the iconic skill of Italian craftsmanship and innate artistic passion, thanks to an outstanding capacity to channel the lessons of the old masters and interpret present-day realities. Nonetheless, Italian contemporary art tends to be overlooked both in Italy and abroad despite a new breed of contemporary artists, shaping a stylish and meaningful universal language that transcends the national borders.

In order to showcase the latest trends, Art Quadriennale, eight years after its last edition, has returned to the Palazzo delle Esposizioni of Rome with an exhibition entitled “Altri tempi, altri miti” (Unlike times, unlike myths), running until the 6th of January 2017. The title is an expression the exhibition curators have borrowed from the Italian writer Pier Vittorio Tondelli, as it appeared to perfectly describe the contents of the exhibition.

Tondelli used the expression in the summary of a collection of short stories he published in 1990 – a year before he died at the young age of 36. His writings offer a multi-faceted account of Italy, a fragmented assortment of journeys around the peninsula, whose innermost vibes are captured along with its more manifest expressions. Similarly, the 16th Art Quadriennale is conceived as a varied map of artistic and cultural production in contemporary Italy and is divided into ten sections, each exploring a specific theme.

The main goals are to make significant contribution to identifying and promoting the most innovative and original expressions of Italian art from 2000 onwards, provide a voice to multiple different languages, unlock the potential of the new generations and, raise awareness of Italian contemporary art in schools through intensive educational activities. In other words, Art Quadriennale will be mapping out contemporary visual arts in Italy. With a collection of one hundred and fifty works from ninety-nine artists, including sixty new pieces, almost all produced within the last two years; we can be rest assured that the objectives will be accomplished. Additionally, a number of pieces by Italian artists from previous generations will be on display as they deeply influenced the most interesting contemporary expressive trends.

In concomitance with the exhibition, a rich programme of fringe events will take place around the city of Rome and its surroundings, encompassing twenty-five museums, foundations and private galleries. Plenty of enjoyment for contemporary art lovers are in store: neophytes will have a lot of food for thought, while experts will be able to indulge in admiring the best of what emerging Italian artists have to offer. If that weren’t enough, after Art Quadriennale will have shut its doors, an international touring exhibition will begin, its first stages being the Berlin Biennale and Art Basel.

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