Just opened in those days (first with press and private previews) the top italian dealer Roberto Casamonti’s privately-funded museum, featuring works from his personal collection, particularly endowed with true Post-war Italian art masterpieces .
In effect, Florence, undisputed birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, over last years it seems to have been bypassed as “main cultural city” by the surge of new Contemporary art spaces in Italy, as the Prada Foundation in Milan, or the twin venues (Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana) operated by the French billionaire François Pinault in Venice.
However, just in the very last few years the city is finally seeing a new Renaissance which mainly includes powerful contemporary art projects (as the annual project in Piazza della Signoria this year by renewed artist Urs Fischer, some great Palazzo Strozzi exhibitions, and Forte Belvedere monumental projects inviting contemporary artist, just to list some) and the famous gallery owner Roberto Casamonti, one of Italy’s top art dealership known also in the international scene, is now willing to give his contribute to his hometown Florence new future. Turning an astonishing old palace, the 16th-century Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni, into a high-end Contemporary Art Museum, which the city was still missing, it will show The Casamonti collection of roughly 1,000 works, and 150 to 200 of them are considered by independent art historians to be superior, if not museum quality.
Casamonti has selected 250 works from his personal collection of Italian and international arists, which include very great pieces by Warhol and Picasso, and Basquiat. They will hang in the ornate suite rooms of the 16th century Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni, under 20-foot-high ceilings decorated in gold leaf. In fact he space chosen for the private museum is a spectacle in itself, one of Florence’s most important High Renaissance buildings,projected in 1520 by celebrated architect Baccio D’agnolo, with an elegant arched courtyard covered in delicate grey-and- white period decorations (“grottesche”). Casamonti, who was seeking a vitrine for the gems that he had accumulated over more than five decades, convinced a member of the noble family that owns the palazzo to sell him the first floor. “There are paintings that I will never sell, that I absolutely want to keep, because I care for them like children,” he said in an interview “I believe the Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni is the right place for them, as it is also very close to Tornabuoni street, where I opened my first gallery”
In fact as collector and then top-end art dealer, Roberto Casamonti has an unusual trajectory, building his initial fortune from building up his father’s furnishing business into a profitable empire in the late 1960s and 70s. His father shop was also the place where he first meet some of the greatest italian artist of the time, as Ottone Rosai, starting in being introduced into the art world, understand it and develop an incredible taste as well as later a forward-looking on new art innovations and promising new italian artist of his generation. After the disaster of Florence flood and their hard reopening of the shop, there was the turning point : they made true fortune as people had a desperate need for those things after the floods, but Roberto decided to invest the profits in art, and not by the early 20th-century Italian artists his father favored, but by Postwar ones he knows. “I preferred to buy a painting than a Ferrari,” he said. “A highquality painting didn’t drop in value: it didn’t cost you anything to own, it didn’t weigh anything, you didn’t pay taxes on it. And that was exactly what happened.
He launched Tornabuoni Art in 1981, and now it has seven outposts in Europe, including London, Paris, and Milan, and specializes in Italian post-war art Tornabuoni is now also present at every major international art fair (as Art Basel, TEFAF, FIAC, ARCO..), with a very global profile which has been greatly bolstered by the efforts of his sons, Ursula and Michele who also later join and lead the family business, the former now in London May Fair gallery and the second in the paris one.
“My father has nearly 60 years of art collecting behind him,” said Michele. “He has decided that he no longer wants his paintings to be in storage, and that they should be seen, democratically, by everybody.”
Dividing the exhibition in 2 years displays, the first-year one (officially opened from March25 until next March10 in 2019) has been curated by Bruno Corà (president of the Fondazione Alberto Burri) and spans from the early 20th century to the 1960s, featuring paintings by Giorgio De Chirico (“Piazza d’Italia con piedistallo vuoto,” 1955) and Picasso (“Deux Pigeons,” 1960) to Léger (“L’insecte sur fond rouge,” 1954) and Lucio Fontana (several works including the 1956 “Concetto spaziale: L’Inferno.”) While, i n the second year exhibition dedicated to post-1960s art, major works by artists as Keith Haring, Anish Kapoor and Jean-Michel Basquiat will go on display, as well as later Fontana’s works.
Definitely a can’t-missed new place to visit for all Art Lovers!
Collezione Roberto Casamonti
Associazione per l’Arte e la Cultura
Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni
Piazza Santa Trinita 1
50123 – Firenze, Italia
Tel. +39 055602030