Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome
The Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, sometimes called simply La Galleria Nazionale or with the acronym GNAM) is a museum in Rome focused on 19th and 20th-century art.
Above: the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Rome from the monumental stair descending from the Villa Borghese gardens; photo © Inexhibit
History and building
The Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea of Rome was founded in 1883 to celebrate the then-recent unification of Italy. Initially housed in the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, in 1915 the gallery moved into the Fine Art Pavilion – built for the 1911 Rome International Art Fair after a design by architect Cesare Bazzani – close to the Villa Borghese and the National Etruscan Museum.
With a view to creating a “temple of the arts”, Bazzani designed a neoclassical building consisting of a monumental stairway, an entrance portico, a central structure, and two side wings. Bazzani also adopted creative architectural solutions; for example, the generously-sized rooms of the pavilion are naturally lit from above by an array of skylights and provided with large glazed openings on all sides thus offering beautiful views towards open-air gardens and courtyards, and creating an unbroken visual relationship between interior and exterior space.
The architectural complex of the museum currently comprises, along with the older building, a back wing also designed by Bazzani in 1933, and a pavilion, unfortunately still uncompleted, designed by Luigi Cosenza in 1973 to accommodate the museum’s collection of contemporary art.
A project to replace Cosenza’s pavilion was developed in 2000 by Swiss architects Diener & Diener but never built. In 2016, the Galleria Nazionale Director Cristina Collu announced an ambitious 15 million euro project aimed to restore and complete the pavilion, to eventually open it to the public in 2019.
Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome, entrance hall; photo © Inexhibit
One of the galleries of the museum; photo © Inexhibit
Collection and semi-permanent exhibition
The art collection of Rome’s Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, one of the largest in Europe, consists of about 4,000 paintings and sculptures, as well as 13,000 works on paper, dating from the early 19th to late 20th century.
The collection features artworks by 170 Italian and international artists, including Umberto Boccioni, Joan Mirò, Lucio Fontana, Felice Casorati, Carlo Carrà, Piero Manzoni, Vincent Van Gogh, Alberto Burri, Antonio Canova, Osvaldo Licini, Man Ray, Giuseppe de Nittis, Amedeo Modigliani, August Rodin, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Georges Braque, Giacomo Balla, Gustav Klimt, Alberto Magnelli, Giorgio de Chirico, Giovanni Segantini, Jackson Pollock, Giuseppe Capogrossi, Renato Guttuso, Silvestro Lega, Medardo Rosso, Joseph Cornell, Dante Gabriele Rossetti, Edgar Degas, Giovanni Fattori, Vanessa Beecroft, Max Ernst, Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Piet Mondrian, Hans Arp, and Gustave Courbet.
World-famous masterpieces in the collection of the Galleria Nazionale include paintings such as L’arlesienne by Vincent van Gogh (1890), Water Lilies by Claude Monet (1899), The Three Ages of Women by Gustav Klimt (1905), Composition A by Piet Mondrian (1920), Watery Paths by Jackson Pollock (1947), and Concetto Spaziale Attese by Lucio Fontana (1963).
Entitled Time is Out of Joint, the semi-permanent exhibition on view in the Galleria Nazionale features about 500 works of art – including pieces on loan from public museums and private collections – arranged in neither in a chronological nor in a thematic sequence, but based on free associations.
The concept behind the exhibition is to create a dialog between artworks on view and the museum’s architecture into which “pieces of art move freely into a sort of anarchy which, following a female tradition which I deem I belong to, is not disorder while something that comes before rules”.
Gustav Klimt, The Three Ages of Women (Die drei Lebensalter einer Frau), 1905, oil on canvas; photo © Inexhibit
Galleria Nazionale di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome, a room with the sculpture “Hercules and Lichas” by Antonio Canova (1815) and (in the background) the work “Spoglia d’oro su spine d’acacia” by Giuseppe Penone (2002); photo © Inexhibit
Piet Mondrian, Composition A, 1923, oil on canvas; photo © Inexhibit
Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale – Attese, 1963, water paint on canvas; photo © Inexhibit
Program of activities
Along with temporary exhibitions, the program of the Galleria Nazionale features seminars, lectures, special projects, open contests, educational programs, and workshops for children and teens.
The gallery’s building is completely accessible to physically impaired people.
Galleria Nazionale di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome; garden; photo © Inexhibit
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