An Italian Dealer Has Turned an Old Palazzo Into a Contemporary Art Museum in His Hometown of Florence
Roberto Casamonti's privately-funded institution opens next week, featuring works from his personal collection.
The Italian art dealer and collector Roberto Casamonti is giving his home city of Florence what it has been missing for a few centuries—a museum of Modern and contemporary art. The 78-year-old founder of Tornabuoni Art unveils parts of his personal collection in a Renaissance-era palace on March 24, which he says will be the first institution in the city to be dedicated solely to modern and contemporary art.
Casamonti has selected 250 works from his personal collection of more than 5,000 works by Italian and international arists, which include pieces by Warhol and Picasso, and Basquiat. They will hang in the ornate rooms of the 16th century Palazzo Bartolini Salimbeni, under 20-foot-high ceilings decorated in gold leaf.
Casamonti made his initial fortune from building up his father’s furnishing business into a profitable empire in the late 1960s and 70s. He launched Tornabuoni Art in 1981. The gallery now has seven outposts in Europe, including London, Paris, and Milan, and specializes in Italian post-war art.
According to the Casamonti Collection, there will be no “direct crossover” between the new museum and the commercial gallery, but says Tornabuoni Art will occasionally loan works from the museum for temporary exhibitions.
Nevertheless, de Chirico’s Piazza d’Italia con piedistallo vuoto (1955), which was featured on the gallery’s TEFAF webpage as a gallery artwork, is due to be included in the inaugural exhibition at the Casamonti Collection. When asked to clarify, the Tornabuoni said that the de Chirico was on loan from the Casamonti Collection to the gallery’s London and Paris Reading de Chirico exhibitions.
The first two exhibitions at the Casamonti Collection are being organized by Bruno Corà, the president of the Fondazione Alberto Burri. Corà has selected the painting by Giorgio de Chirico, Deux Pigeons by Picasso, and several works by Lucio Fontana for the inaugural show. It will be followed by an exhibition focusing on post-1960s art, which will feature works by Keith Haring, Anish Kapoor and Jean-Michel Basquiat as well as later works by Fontana. Alongside these, the collection will also be showing an important body of works by the Arte Povera conceptual artist Alighiero Boetti. Casamonti was a personal friend of the artist.
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