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MAXXI. The power of art and beauty

by Giovanna Melandri

Since its advent, being a contemporary creativity magnet in Rome, the stage for classical and baroque art, in the urban space reshaped by the genius of Zaha Hadid, MAXXI, the National Museum of 21st-century arts, has envisaged and operated with a mission: to create and maintain a network of synergies in the multifaceted universe of the arts of the 21st century. As a private foundation with public control and vocation, in times of limited funds and uncertainty about the fate of policies for culture, I would say it was a far-sighted choice for a national museum that is always well tuned to the emerging turmoil at different latitudes. A few figures are enough to explain the reasons we are proud of the path taken so far. In 2018, the number of visitors increased by more than 11 percent compared to the previous year (the total is over 200,000) and in 2019 the trend is being confirmed. The collection, identity and spirit of MAXXI (always evolving) is a source of attraction and has been enriched with 70 new works.
The number and quality of education, training and research activities that shape the public of the future and put us in touch with schools, universities, academies and the most diverse associations are all improving.

And our community is now close to six hundred thousand contacts. I could make other examples. Talking with Wannenes Art Magazine’s readers – before mentioning some of the highlights of the 2019 program, from April onwards – I would like to share MAXXI’s vision among the many talents, skills and passions that contemporary art ignites despite everything, despite being still often seen as a closed field of interests and languages, almost isolated. This is not the case, although there are contradictions of various kinds (legislative, regulatory, productive, communicative) to be dealt with collectively.
In my opinion, this is the essential point: institutions and foundations, gallery owners and collectors, curators and critics, journalists and patrons must reflect together, be able to compare experiences and opinions, indicate common paths, find assonant proposals. With a double basic inspiration: to guarantee artists full expressive freedom, the circulation of their ideas, in a society so saturated by the voracity of images and texts on social networking sites. Also, to form a larger audience of lovers of beauty and creativity, in the stimulating forms of this early millennium, so fertile and chaotic, full of hopes and global dramas.

It is a path that must be taken together and that cannot be separated from a strong public investment that puts culture at the centre of development and growth policies, flanked by the precious contribution of private resources.
This is what we are doing at MAXXI: we have developed and shared projects with Enel – the first private partner of MAXXI Foundation – Alcantara Bulgari, Gucci, BMW Italia, Groupama Assicurazioni, just to name a few. A real laboratory of the future in which many prestigious partners invest their ideas and resources.
We are also building, with the help of many enthusiasts, an irreplaceable reality like the Amici del MAXXI (MAXXI’s Friends) the private donors of the museum: not a mailing list of guests but a community that affects the life of the museum and contributes to enriching the collection (the last milestone, thanks to their generous support, the acquisition of the work Porta addormita by Enzo Cucchi, to which we will devote a focus in September). And with Americans Friends of MAXXI we have crossed the Atlantic: there is a group of collectors and amateurs who promote Rome’s contemporary pole as an attractive place for artists, scholars and cosmopolitan visitors in the United States.

Bearing all this in mind, let’s take a brief look at the main exhibitions scheduled from spring to the end of 2019.
A distinctive sign that stands out is the feminine touch that will characterise MAXXI this year. The beginning of April saw the inauguration of the solo exhibition dedicated to Paola Pivi, World Record, with historical and recent works, sculptures and installations by the artist awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1999, and the focus Elisabetta Catalano. Tra immagine e performance, with artists masterfully captured by the famous portraitist. Then, on June 19, on the centenary of her birth, between the “sewn books” and the looms, a very original personality breaks in: Maria Lai with the exhibition Tenendo per mano il sole. Pivi, Catalano, Lai: three great fertile voices, three women of rare creativity.

Also in April, there were two major vernissages: Paolo Di Paolo. Mondo perduto, to explore the never-before-seen archive of the photographer who, for the weekly publication Il Mondo by Pannunzio, told the story of the protagonists of art, cinema, fashion and literature in Italy in the 1950s and 1960s; and At Home / A casa: the forms of living explored through the heritage of MAXXI collections. From 11 May, let me highlight Terre in Movimento, the beauty and the sorrows of the Marche’s landscape after the earthquake, in the shots by Olivo Barbieri, Paola De Pietri and Petra Noordkamp.
Languages, trends and research are then unravelled with three important events, which strongly convey the international dimension of our museum. On May 22nd, we will open our galleries to the masterpieces of the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern for the exhibition Al norte de la tormenta. Da Robert Raushenberg a Antoni Tàpies, da Bruce Nauman a Juan Muñoz (in 2020, MAXXI works will be hosted at the IVAM). Since Alighiero Boetti’s last creation, another group show with a strong visual and intellectual impact will start in the autumn (from 11 October): O della materia spirituale dell’arte, with artists such as Elisabetta Di Maggio, Yoko Ono, Remo Salvadori, Sean Scully. And, on November 7, the great retrospective Gio Ponti. Amare l’architettura. Everyday objects or solutions for modern houses, the Pirelli skyscraper or Taranto’s cathedral: forty years after his death, we are investigating the eclectic production of an indelible figure of the Italian culture.

So, female perspectives, great Italian artists, international masterpieces: in a time as complex and difficult as the one we are experiencing, MAXXI 2019 programme aims to underline the power of art and beauty. “Be beautiful, facing the ugly!”, as our Artistic Director, Hou Hanru, likes to say.
We are waiting for you