Following restoration lasting almost ten years, the Palazzo della Gran Guardia of Verona reopened to the public on June 29th. Restored for cultural events and conferences, the inauguration of the Gran Guardia will take place with the exhibition La percezione dello spazio. The works in the show belong to the famous Panza di Biumo collection in the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
They represent one of the most important collections of contemporary art in the world and together offer a significant critical overview of Minimalism, Conceptual Art and Environmental Art (1960s-1970s). At the beginning of the 1990s a major part of the Panza collection, through donation, loan and sale, became a part of the permanent collection of the Guggenheim Foundation.
The monumental counterpoint to the Arena, the Palazzo rises in Piazza Bra, in the heart of the Scaligera city, which has recently been given World Heritage status by UNESCO. Construction of the palazzo began in 1610, designed by Domenico Curtoni, nephew of Michele Sammicheli, and through a number of vicissitudes and functioning periods was finally completed in 1821.
The architect Luigi Calcagni directed restoration works.
La percezione dello spazio is promoted by the Municipality of Verona and the Civica Galleria d’Arte Moderna Palazzo Forti, with the support of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio of Verona, Vicenza, Belluno and Ancona. The show exhibits works by Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris, Phil Sims, James Turrell and Lawrence Weiner.
The curators are Giorgio Cortenova, Director of Palazzo Forti and art history expert in contemporary minimalist and conceptual art, and Conte Giuseppe Panza di Biumo, who in forty years of collecting has acquired some 2,500 works, more than half of which can be found today in the most important contemporary art museums of the world, from the Cantonale Museum in Lugano, to the MOCA in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim in New York.
In that period the structure, colour and substance of art were at the service of space: the choice of place, of installation modes and lighting, and the opportunity for the public of interacting with the work, all represented an integral part of the artists’ project. Judd, Flavin, Lewitt, Morris and Turrell understood how to create new relationships between the human and the environment, transforming the emotional and intellectual impact of the work and its space with the observer, suggesting a new perception of spatial reality itself.
The exhibition space therefore represents a significant factor with respect to the expressive potential of the works.
Panza’s opportunity to observe the connection between minimalist art and architecture was consolidated in the large rooms of his Baroque home, Villa Menafoglio Litta Panza in Varese, donated in 1996 to the Fondo per l'Ambiente Italiano. Today it is a museum.
The large spaces of the Gran Guardia, originally used for military and chivalric exercises, constitute the ideal space for the works in the Panza Collection, also considering the large size of the works. They are essential geometric forms having broad areas of pure colour, created with industrial materials, and yet they possess extremely refined tones and textures – authentic purist revelations. An art that critics have defined as the art of ABC or of Primary Structures; an art that shifts between sculpture and architecture, only apparently ’cool’, extraordinarily evocative.
Catalogue by Electa. Texts by Giorgio Cortenova and Angela Vettese.