A Pleasant Discovery in Emilia-Romagna
I have to admit it, I discovered the MAGI’900 museum only recently and in a rather casual way.
Therefore, this article is for all those who are still unaware of what they are missing!
One of the reasons why the MAGI’900 museum is not one of the best known in our country is certainly the place where it is located: not a big city, but Pieve di Cento, a small district at the end of the province of Bologna.
The other reason is probably its origin; it is in fact the first totally private Italian museum.
It was born in 2000 thanks to the patronage of the entrepreneur and collector Giulio Bargellini, founder of the OVA brand.
From the location of the original part of the museum, you can already understand a lot about its peculiarity: it is in an industrial building, a grain silo dating back to 1933 and converted for its new function.
Later on, the MAGI’900 gradually expanded with two other exhibition sections, one dedicated to the historical masters of the Twentieth century and to individual contemporary authors, the other to African and South American art of recent decades, as well as to aniconic and figurative art.
In addition, there is a sculpture garden that houses large artworks in dialogue with the surrounding greenery and the metallic tones of the buildings.
The museum is characterized by large and bright rooms and by a never ordinary set-up: we move from ‘dense and intense‘ environments, such as the one dedicated to the Malindi Biennale, to others more symmetrical and rigorous, up to embracing and encyclopedic ones, such as the rows of futurist drawings.
Even the shapes and sizes of the artworks are so varied that there are several meters high statues and paintings of only 8×10 cm.
Writing in this article about the remarkable names on display would be reductive because the artists involved are really a lot and noteworthy. I will restrict just mentioning some of the most popular including Giorgio de Chirico, Giacomo Manzù, Lucio Fontana, Alberto Burri, Damien Hirst, Sol LeWitt …
Instead, I would like to focus on some artists less known in Italy but not for this less famous worldwide: Esther Mahlangu and Cesare Siviglia.
The artworks of both can be found in the section dedicated to African and South American art of which they are the main exponents on display.
Esther Mahlangu comes from South Africa and creates panels with colourful geometries like the typical beaded decorations of the N’debele tribe.
Cesare Siviglia, on the other hand, comes from the Colombian Andes and is inspired by pre-Columbian art and Mexican muralism.
Although very distant, even if only for geographical reasons, these two artists have in common the bond with their origins’ culture and with a primitive-ancestral aesthetic which, in its simplicity of shapes and flat colours, succeed in catching visitors.
In addition to the spaces for permanent exhibitions, there are also those for temporary shows. There, from March 4th to April 16th, will be held “Impronte nel vento” (= Footprints in the wind), Federica Cipriani’s solo show in which the artist explores the relationship between individual and collective identity through flocks of paper birds and large reed nests.
I highly recommend everyone to visit this museum and to plan at least an entire afternoon to spend there surrounded by art!