Agenda / From Bombs to the Museum: 1942-1959

From Bombs to the Museum: 1942-1959

From Bombs to the Museum: 1942-1959
The Rebirth of Modern Art. The GAM Example
from 14/12/2016 to 01/10/2017
GAM - Galleria Civica D’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea

This exhibition – states Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev – deals with rebuilding the Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna during the 1950s, after damage to its works and its architecture which hosted the city’s modern art collections and was bombed in 1942 by Allied forces. The war freed the country from dictatorship, but its architectural and artistic heritage paid a very high price, devastated by the conflict.

A long series of air raids profoundly damaged many areas in Turin. The Padiglione Calderini, built in 1880 and from 1895 home to the museum’s collections, was bombed and partially left in ruins. The same fate was faced by some large-format works, because it had been impossible to move them to a safer location. When the war ended, a newly freed and democratic Turin re-imagines its future.

Dalle bombe al museo covers the course of modern art’s rebirth in Italy. The history of rebuilding the Galleria d’Arte Moderna of Turin—designed by Carlo Bassi (1923) and Goffredo Boschetti (1923–2013), under the supervision of Vittorio Viale (1891–1977)—is an example of a vaster Reconstruction our country began, with extraordinary vitality and energy, in 1945 and carried forth over the following decades. The new Galleria opened in 1959.

To imagine transforming destruction caused by the war into a constructive idea for the future – states Riccardo Passoni – was the challenge embraced by the then-director of the Musei Civici, Vittorio Viale. With great foresight, he built up the modern art collections even before a new museum was envisioned, thereby setting the conditions for the future developments of our modern collections.

The first rooms display some emblematic works(in part destroyed and in part restored) of the bombed museum, and as the exhibition unfolds it becomes clear that in the Galleria at the time there already existed an intention to form an international collection, which evolved even before the worksite opened. Evidence of this is the purchase, at the Venice Biennale in 1948, of a work by Marc Chagall (Dans mon pays, 1943), later followed by important acquisitions at the Pittori d’Oggi. Francia Italia [Today’s Painters. France Italy] events, starting in 1951 with works by Hans Hartung (Composition T 50-5 [T, 50-5], 1950) and Alfred Manessier, on exhibit.

The over 60 works on display alternate with 90 period photos and a vast selection of architecture plates and drawings, original letters and documents. Paintings, sculptures, and papers belong to the GAM Collections and its Historical Archives. Across the itinerary, armchairs, tables, chairs, and lamps recreate some of the museum’s original furnishings, thus documenting design research during those years. Dalle bombe al museo is a multifaceted exhibition, interweaving history, art, architecture, and design, through the project by Carlo Bassi and Goffredo Boschetti, the works of artists such as Hans Jean Arp (Scultura di silenzio “Corneille,” 1942), Giacomo Manzù (Ragazza seduta, 1948), Emilio Vedova (Dal ciclo della natura n. 9 [spaziale = invasione], 1953), Pinot Gallizio (La cicogna, 1957), along with a group of objects and furniture by BBPR (Belgiojoso, Peressutti, and Rogers), Luigi Caccia Dominioni, Gio Ponti, Ico Parisi.

Starting from this heritage, the exhibition aims to cover and commemorate the story of a utopia that became reality, shedding light on the extraordinary ability of an entire city in transforming the deformities of the war into a constructive idea about the future.

December 14, 2016 to May 14, 2017

Curated by Riccardo Passoni and Giorgina Bertolino

Based on an idea by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev

GAM - Galleria Civica D’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea
via Magenta 31, Torino