Masters of the Day


Italy, art – the terms are almost inextricable. The historic “greats” come to mind immediately, conjuring images of paintings and sculptures deeply embedded in our collective visual memory. But insert the word “contemporary” between the two, and the references diminish exponentially.

Artist Lucilla Caporilli Ferro puts it best when she suggests that Italian artists now must “turn the heavy legacy of our rich heritage into a valuable resource for the future, without any rhetoric or commonplaces, but through profound insights and interactions between our identity and the contemporary world.” (Article on page 24.)

Despite the fact that some of the world’s most renowned artists are mainstays at museums across the world, such as Maurizio Cattelan whose solo retrospective is on view at the Guggenheim, and despite the fact that some of the major contemporary art movements like Arte Povera continue to inspire, the Italian contemporary art scene lacks the ubiquity of its Classic precedent.

Curator of the Italian Pavilion of the 2011 Venice Biennale, art critic Vittorio Sgarbi involved the regions of Italy and the Italian cultural institutions worldwide in the diffusion of contemporary art by Italian artists during this Biennale
year. Concurrent with the exposition in Venice, participating institutions displayed works local to their city made by Italian-born artists. This clever curatorial stroke brought both new and familiar artists to light, but highlighted just how many Italian artists have moved abroad to realize their artistic careers.

Amidst articles and interviews reflecting on the contemporary art world on (and off) the peninsula, there are the works themselves displayed throughout this issue, which perhaps tell the greater story.