CIMA as ‘incubator for museums’

Written by CIMA spring intern, Elisa Pellegrini

Laura Mattioli, the president of CIMA, decided to open this space in SoHo to promote public appreciation and advance the study of modern and contemporary Italian art in the United States and internationally. Laura believes that twentieth century Italian art is too little known outside Italy, and that there is an extremely rigid structure of thinking in historiography. In fact, from Impressionism onwards, the main and irrefutable idea is that everything started in Paris, from the French experience, while all that happened later in Europe is a derivation, a consequence. CIMA wants to question this forced and distorted reading of our past, creating new interrogatives. To accomplish this result, CIMA allows art historians and theorists who attend our center to spend a lengthy amuont of time in front of exhibited works. Indeed, the continuous and profound observation of a work allows the natural flow of reflections and questions. The daily proximity to art is a crucial advantage that collectors have over those who study the history of art only through museums and catalogs. Opening this place, Laura chose to share this privilege.

Giorgio de Chirico, Gare Montparnasse (The Melancholy of Departure), early 1914, oil on canvas, 55 1/8″ x 6′ 5/8″ (140 x 184.5 cm). Museum of Modern Art, Gift of James Thrall Soby (1077.1969).

CIMA wants to raise new questions, and therefore answers, and allow a more free and, when necessary, more provocative vision. According to Laura, “one of the aims of CIMA is to be an ideas incubator for other museums.” Along these lines, from 13 October 2016 to 24 June 2017 CIMA hosted an exhibition on Giorgio de Chirico and Giulio Paolini, important in retelling de Chirico’s legacy outside Europe. This is visible in the past exhibition dedicated to de Chirico at the Castello di Rivoli and a the number of current and future exhibitions planned, at GAM in Turin, at Palazzo Ducale in Genova, at Palazzo Reale in Milan, at the Fondazione Magnani Rocca in Parma, and at the Musée de la Ville in Paris. Among the others, the exhibition Giorgio de Chirico. Back to the Future, Neometaphysics and Contemporary Art that GAM (Civic Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art) will present April 19th is quite relevant. Indeed, as Laura Mattioli said, this exhibition in Turin is “daughter of the same reading proposition made by CIMA with the de Chirico and Paolini exhibition.”

Giorgio de Chirico, Le Muse Inquietanti (The Disquieting Muses), 1918 © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome


GAM’s exhibition consists of a dialogue between the neometaphysical work of Giorgio de Chirico and the generations of artists who, especially from the Sixties onwards, were inspired by his work, recognizing him as the master who anticipated their new vision, who with his neometaphysics placed himself in direct confrontation with younger authors. Consequently, GAM goes in the same direction as CIMA, offering a similar proposed reading of the artist. In fact, CIMA’s exhibition aimed to challenge the canonical interpretation of de Chirico’s work by examining it through the lens of Paolini’s oeuvre and writings.

Galleria Civica D’Arte Moderna, Turin

In 1919, Roberto Longhi, the most influential Italian art critic of the time, wrote a harsh review of de Chirico’s first solo exhibition, held in Rome. His criticism may have played a part in the artist’s subsequent estrangement from the avant-garde and his embrace of traditional painting techniques and themes. Today posterity, free from the stereotypes of certain condemnations, can “have its say,” as Marcel Duchamp realized in a text on de Chirico of 1943. This is the context in which new attention has been paid to the period of de Chirico’s neometaphysics (1968-1978), which represents at the same time a return and a new start, a phase of new creativity and a return to the images of one’s past, through a new point of view and new formal and conceptual solutions.