Events & Exhibitions / GAM
The Rehang of the GAM
1863-1965 Stories, Directions, Visions
"A museum is a place for cultural engagement, first established several centuries ago in Europe and is now found the world over. Museums are in a constant state of transformation and, for reasons of clearness, they can no longer objectively deliver a universal narrative: they must also tell their own story, which is to be sought in their local context". Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Director
The GAM – Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Torino is inaugurating a new permanent exhibition of its collections with an innovative layout that abandons the thematic approach and intends to present visitors with an itinerary that retraces the history of Italy's first Civic Museum of Modern Art and also narrates the history of modern art through the Museum’s collections, acquisitions and the cultural policies chosen by its directors, among them Pio Agodino, the Museum's first Director, Emanuele d'Azeglio, Vittorio Avondo, Enrico Thovez, Lorenzo Rovere, Vittorio Viale and Luigi Mallé.
The rehang of the collections was carried out under the direction of Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev: the 19th century section was curated by Virginia Bertone, Fabio Cafagna and Filippo Bosco, and the 20th century section by Riccardo Passoni together with Giorgina Bertolino.
The GAM's new rehang has been arranged following three perspectives: the history of art, the history of the museum, and the historical, social and economic position of Torino.
Level 2 contains paintings and sculptures that take the visitor from the birth of the museum in 1863 up to the early 20th century; level 1 displays works from the early years of the 20th century up to Pop Art that first appeared during the 1960s economic boom.
The sequence of works and masterpieces held by the GAM expresses the tastes of the period: for instance, in the second half of the 19th century paintings were hung in the salon style on walls that were often painted Pompeian red or olive green, since it was believed that in contrast the paintings would stand out as if they were windows onto the world. The museum was a public space: one would sit on the benches and converse, as if in a park. At the beginning of the 20th century gallery walls acquired lighter hues with beige or grey being used as a background colours. Additionally, a single-row alignment standard started to appear, which consisted in placing works next to one other at eye level.
Some of the innovative features of the new collection rehang are the noticeable presence of archival documents in between the works on display, together the room texts that present the history of art through the works of the GAM, and the "metamuseums" or screens with period images and texts pertaining to artistic and historical events connected to the museum and the city within the context of Italian and International events.
The museum itinerary starts on the Level 2 with 19th century works; it moves from the origins of the civic collections (1863) to the eve of the Great War (1914). Alternate reds and greens have been chosen as wall colours, the same colours used in 1913 by Enrico Thovez, who was appointed director of the Civic Gallery that same year. In the last of the 19th century rooms, the museum's management has chosen to experiment and study the perceptive relationship of contemporary visitors with other colours featured in today's lifestyles, so as to avoid displaying 19th century art against the typical white backdrops favoured by museums from the end of the twentieth century to the present day.
The layout is divided into 17 rooms that follow a chronological order and present themes such as The Renewal of the Landscape, The Art of the Great Exhibitions, The Success of the Portrait, Divisionist and Symbolist painting. Of the many artists whose works are part of the collection, those on display include Antonio Canova (1757-1822), Giovanni Battista De Gubernatis (1774-1837), Andrea Gastaldi (1826-1889), Vincenzo Vela (1820-1891), Giovanni Fattori (1825-1908), Tranquillo Cremona ( 1837-1878), Vincenzo Gemito (1852-1929), Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo (1868-1907), Angelo Morbelli (1853-1919), Medardo Rosso (1858-1928), Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) and some rooms are dedicated to groups of works by Massimo d'Azeglio ( 1798-1866), Antonio Fontanesi (1818-1882) and Leonardo Bistolfi (1859-1933).
Level 1 displays 20th century works ranging from the first decade of the century to 1965 with rooms dedicated to Classical Modernity, displaying 20th century Italian works by Felice Carena (1879-1966), Mario Sironi (1885-1961), Carlo Carrà (1881-1966), Alberto Savinio (1891-1952), Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978); to the Futurism of Giacomo Balla (1871-1958), Gino Severini (1871-1958) (1883-1966), Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916) and Enrico Prampolini (1894-1956); to the Avant-gardes with works by Otto Dix (1891-1969), Francis Picabia (1879-1953), Max Ernst (1891-1976) and Paul Klee (1879-1940). The route is punctuated by monographic rooms dedicated to masterpieces by Felice Casorati (1883-1963), Arturo Martini (1889-1947), Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) and Filippo de Pisis (1896-1956). The first painting in the large room dedicated to Art in Torino between the Two Wars, is Amedeo Modigliani’s Ragazza rossa (Red Girl), one of the works that inspired the so-called “Sei Pittori” (Six Painters) group.
The itinerary through the collections then continues with the room dedicated to Italian abstracts artists from the 1930s with sculptures by Lucio Fontana (1899-1968), Fausto Melotti (1901-1986) and paintings by Osvaldo Licini (1894-1958); it then leads visitors past works by key figures of the 1940s and 1950s international scene - Marc Chagall (1887-1985), Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Hans Hartung (1904-1989), Hans Jean Arp (1887-1966) – and then focuses on the artistic research developed by Lucio Fontana (1899-1968) and Alberto Burri (1915-1995), by Asger Jorn (1914-1973) and Pinot Gallizio (1902 – 1964), as well as by the CoBrA group and the Situationist International; The itinerary then moves on to the 1960s, focusing on the history of the Museo Sperimentale, a corpus of works donated to our Museum by Eugenio Battisti. Lastly, the visit broadens its scope to the Italian Pop scene and Mario Schifano (1934-1998) among others, and to the international art: Andy Warhol’s famous Orange Car Crash, a sculpture by Louise Nevelson and a seldom exhibited sculpture by Beverly Pepper.