Runners-Up for the Fourth Plinth Commission Rarely Realize Their Proposed Works. One Collector Is Changing That for a 2021 Finalist

Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo is making artist Goshka Macuga's sculpture a reality.

Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. Photo by Stefano Sciuto.

Artist Goshka Macuga’s proposal for the Fourth Plinth commission will become a reality—just not in London. The idea for the sculpture, which depicts a chrome rocket ship, is instead being commissioned by collector Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, president of Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, and will appear at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence.

Few collections in Europe offer such a broad purview into contemporary art of the late 20th and early 21st centuries as that of the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Collection. To mark the collection’s 30th anniversary, Palazzo Strozzi will feature works by Cindy Sherman and Anish Kapoor that date to the late 1970s and early ’80s, as well as contemporary works by Avery Singer, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, and Maurizio Cattelan, whose iconic sculpture of his own likeness La rivoluzione siamo noi (2000) will be on view.

The show, titled “Reaching for the Stars,” will be on view March 4 through June 18.

Macuga’s rocket, called GONOGO, existed only as a small-scale rendering, but it will now appear in the historic courtyard of the palace. GONOGO—the title is in reference a quandary: “to go, or not to go”—is a chrome rocket on its platform, ready to launch. It was beat out for the Fourth Plinth commission by Teresa Margolles’s 850 Improntas, casts of the faces of 850 trans people, which will debut in 2024.

Last month, artist Rachel Whiteread complained in the Guardian that it is difficult for artists who do the Fourth Plinth commission to find homes for their projects after they come down (her sculpture for the public site has been in storage since appearing in 2001). The ability for shortlisted artists, like Macuga, to realize their proposed works is even rarer.

Sandretto Re Rebaudengo told Artnet News that her commission of Macuga’s work was part of an ongoing dialogue with the Polish artist dating back to 2009.

“I deeply admire her work, which is visually compelling and thought-provoking, and I found her proposal for the work GONOGO very relevant to the current times, when we witness the contradictions between technological advancement and ecological disaster,” she said.

Goshka Macuga, GONOGO (2021), model. Photo by James O'Jenkins, courtesy of the National Gallery, London.

Goshka Macuga, GONOGO (2021), model. Photo by James O’Jenkins, courtesy of the National Gallery, London.

She added that she wanted the presentation to include a new commission, to emphasize the ongoing work of the collection, a “journey I started 30 years ago continues today, with the same passion and commitment as ever.”

“I really believe in the importance of collaboration between institutions,” Sandretto Re Rebaudengo said. Palazzo Strozzi director Arturo Galansino, who Sandretto Re Rebaudengo has known for years, invited the Turin collector to collaborate on the show, for which he curated 70 artworks, organized by themes rather than chronology.

“They have a different way of reading my collection,” Sandretto Re Rebaudengo said. “Every time, it is so interesting to have my collection seen through other eyes.”

Galansino noted in a statement that the collaboration was also about “celebrating the values of patronage and of commissioning in the city where great collecting was born.”

After the show, GONOGO will finally land at Sandretto Re Rebaudengo’s venue on the island of San Giacomo, near Venice.

“Reaching for the Stars: From Maurizio Cattelan to Lynette Yiadom Boakye” will be on view in Florence at the Palazzo Strozzi from March 4 through June 18, 2023

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