First Collection’s Exhibition

Exhibition map

Room 01

Giacomo Balla, Renato Birolli,Giovanni Boldini, Umberto Boccioni, Massimo Campigli, Carlo Carrà, Felice Casorati, Giorgio de Chirico, Giovanni Fattori, Renato Guttuso, Osvaldo Licini, Alberto Magnelli, Marino Marini, Giorgio Morandi, René Paresce, Enrico Prampolini, Fausto Pirandello, Filippo de Pisis, Ottone Rosai, Alberto Savinio, Gino Severini, Mario Sironi, Atanasio Soldati, Mario Tozzi, Lorenzo  Viani.

At the entrance to the collection is Il grande metafisico [The Great Metaphysician] 1970-1985, a large sculpture by Giorgio de Chirico, in dark gilt bronze, which recalls the painting of the same name of 1917. This is one of several works in the Collection by the father of Metaphysical Painting, who gave life to a new poetic vision influenced by the philosophers Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. Together with Giovanni Fattori’s In ricognizione [On Reconnaissance] 1899, Giovanni Boldini’s Ritratto femminile [Female Portrait] of about 1890, and Lorenzo Viani’s Uomini sulla panchina [Men on a Bench] 1907-1909, there are another four works by de Chirico on the piano nobile of the Palazzo Salimbeni. These are La passeggiata (Il Tempio di Apollo a Delphi) [The Path (The Temple of Apollo in Delphi)] 1909-1910, Combattimento di gladiatori [Battle of Gladiators] 1932, Ettore e Andromaca [Hector and Andromache] 1950, and Piazza d’Italia con piedistallo vuoto [Italian Piazza with Empty Pedestal] 1955. All these subjects are emblematic of de Chirico’s work, but the youthful La passeggiata, in particular, clearly reveals the still close influence of Arnold Böcklin. This was on the eve of his artistic leap forward with the Enigma di un pomeriggio d’autunno [Enigma of an Autumn Afternoon] 1910, an epiphanic event that occurred right here in Florence.

Room 02

Pierre Alechinsky, Karel Appel, Georges Braque, Max Ernst, Jean Fautrier, Hans Hartung,  Asger Jorn, Wassilly Kandinsky, Paul Klee,Wifredo Lam, Le Courbousier, Fernand Leger, André Masson, Georges Mathieu, Sebastian Matta, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Serge Poliakoff, Chaïm Soutine, Maurice Vlamink

In the next large gallery is devoted to the European masters who best represent the main avant-garde movements which, together with Futurism and Metaphysical Painting, characterised the first half of the twentieth century.

Among the protagonists of Cubism, we find Pablo Picasso’s Combat de faune et de Centaure [Fight between a Faun and a Centaur] 1946, together with Deux pigeons [Two Pigeons] 1960, an oil on canvas, as well as Georges Braque’s Faucille et pichet [Sickle and pitcher] 1945, and Fernand Léger’s L’insecte sur fond rouge [Insect on Red Background] 1954.

Paul Klee’s Wachsende Waffen [Growing Weapons] 1935, and Wassily Kandinsky’s Untitled work from 1940, on the other hand, both members of the Bauhaus, reveal a form of semiotic abstraction. Their delicate, coplanar morphologies on uniform monochromatic fields are markedly different from the equally sign-based but decidedly gestural oil paintings by Hans Hartung, t48-2 1948, and Georges Mathieu, Untitled 1961.

Room 03

Carla Accardi, Piero Dorazio, Achille Perilli, Antonio Sanfilippo, Giulio Turcato

The third gallery is devoted entirely to artists of the Gruppo Forma 1, which was founded in Rome in 1947, and thus constituted one of the first new artist groups in post-war Italy. Here we have works by Piero Dorazio from various periods between 1948 and 1968, including Verdino [Pale Green] 1962, an oil on canvas that reveals the influence of Giacomo Balla. There are also Carla Accardi and Antonio Sanfilippo, the surfaces of whose temperas, like Dorazio’s oils, are dominated by signs applied with the same lyrical vigour despite a different use of space. Then there are the works of Achille Perilli, whose cryptic script occupies a sequence of distinct spaces forming indecipherable and yet eloquent narratives, and, lastly, Giulio Turcato, with Paesaggio urbano [Urban Landscape] 1952 and Mosche cinesi [Chinese Flies] 1960, different in terms of medium but decidedly more story-like and poetic.

Room 04

Afro, Giuseppe Capogrossi, Ettore Colla, Tancredi, Emilio Vedova

In the fourth gallery, Giuseppe Capogrossi’s Grande Superficie 608 [Large Surface 608] 1951, looks onto the mixed-media assemblage of Berlin 1963-64 by Emilio Vedova, on which he displayed a great mastery of colour. At the centre of the gallery, Ettore Colla’s iron Marte [Mars] 1965, magnetises the whole room, polarising a space that is already filled with the powerful energy of its various masterpieces.

Alberto Burri’s and Afro Basaldella’s paintings engage in active dialogue, as they always did throughout the artists’ lives: Rosso nero [Red Black] 1955, by the former, from Città di Castello, interacts with Teatro spagnolo [Spanish Theatre] 1966 by the latter, who was born in Udine, just as Sacco [Sack] 1952 does with Canicola [Heat Wave] 1960.

Room 05

Joseph Albers, Getulio Alviani, Enrico Baj, Max Bill, Agostino Bonalumi, Alberto Burri, Enrico Castellani, Roberto Crippa, Dadamaino, Lucio Fontana, Domenico Gnoli, Yves Klein, Francesco Lo Savio, Piero Manzoni, Louise Nevelson, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Giò Pomodoro, Mimmo Rotella, Paolo Scheggi, Andy Warhol

In the fifth and last room, Lucio Fontana’s works reveal the collector’s passion for this artist. The great master of Spatialism is the counterpoint to every other influential artist in the room with his Cavallo [Horse] 1935-36, in coloured refractory clay, Concetto spaziale, L’inferno [Spatial Concept, Hell] 1956, Concetto spaziale (Forma) [Spatial Concept, Form] 1958, and Concetto spaziale [Spatial Concept] 1962, which appear to anticipate his Fine di Dio [The End of God] series and Concetto spaziale, attese [Spatial Concept, Expectations] 1965, with six diagonal and vertical cuts on two levels of execution. […] Next to the two Achrome 1958-59 in kaolin and canvas, and Achrome ca. 1962, Manzoni’s “package” on canvas, we find three masterpieces by Enrico Castellani: Superficie blu [Blue Surface] 1961, Dittico rosso [Red Diptych] 1963, and Superficie bianca n° 5 [White Surface no. 5] 1964, each canvas shaped in a different way by outward and inward flexions of the monochrome surface. Then we have Agostino Bonalumi’s Nero [Black] 1968, and Dadamaino’s Volume a moduli sfasati [Volume of Staggered Modules] 1960, which complete the glorious chapter opened by Azimuth (1959-60) in Milan, by building on the ideas that Fontana had been developing in the city for some years.