Wednesday, 17 August 2011

MACRO Museo d'Arte Contemporaneo Roma

The second contemporary art museum I wanted to see in Rome was MACRO. Like MAXXII, it's pretty easy to get to from the train station. I found the building to be striking, but a bit confusing to negotiate till I understood that it consists of two buildings connected by an atrium. The entrance area is a large dark space with a bright orange structure in the center. On the ground floor, this is a lecture hall; above it holds an exhibition.

MACRO first floor walkway
MACRO with Adrian Tranquilli installtion
MACRO atrium from above

There were at least a dozen small exhibitions or installations in the building, all of them with some interest. On top of the orange structure was an installation by Andrian Tranquilli, a model of St. Peter's made of 50,000 playing cards, all variaties of the Joker. He had juxtaposed this with an image of Batman, apparently intending some dichotomy and discussion of the nature of Good and Evil. I thought the card structure was sort of fun, but wished he had actually balanced the cards.

I was very interested to see the installation by Tomas Saraceno, whos installation had quite fascinated me at the 2009 Venice Biennale . His installation here was titled Cloud City: A Wonderful Example of Alternative Universe and was accompanied by a complex description of the 500 dodecahedron-shaped forms made of electric cables that occupied one of the large galleries in the museum. The description says he was influenced by Buckminster Fuller, "who held that the whole world could be connected by a network of energy that went beyond the confines of geography and culture allowing people to communicate, live and travel freely, and the theories of Nikola Tesla, the first to theorize a tower for wireless telecommunications, the Tesla Tower." Visitors are supposed to be "englobed" in the installation. I tried, both on the ground floor and from above on one of the passageways, but the shapes in this installation continued to be much more mundane than those I had seen in Venice. The installation looks much better in photographs.
Tomas Saraceno, Cloud City
The artist I had not seen before and 'discovered' at MACRO is Bice Lazzari (1900-1981) a woman born in Venice who came to Rome in 1935. The gallery dedicated to her had walls filled with her small watercolors, and cabinets with more works on paper inside. It took me a minute to realize that they span most of the 20th century, incorporate her interests in music and poetry in primarily abstract works that connect with the Italian 'informal' movement, and suggest a delicate minimalism. On the internet, I see that she was exhibited at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice in 2002, but the MACRO display included probably hundreds of her works from the Lazzari archive.
Bice Lazzari, Self Portrait, 1929 (Sorry about the glass)
Selected works by Bice Lazzari in exhibition cabinet at MACRO

Several images of her work are available on the internet. I don't believe she has been exhibited in the United States recently.

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