6. Activity During the 1990s: Towards Self-Management

Activity During the 1990s: Towards Self-Management

The Palazzo delle Esposizioni reopened in 1990 with three exhibits that occupied all three levels of the facility: on the main floor Rome of the Tarquins, curated by the Rome City Council Fine Arts Office; on the first floor Peter Paul Rubens, and on the lower floor an exhibit dedicated to Mario Schifano. This was proof of the extraordinary range of exhibits that could be hosted by the Palazzo simultaneously, and also attested to its tendency to take on areas of classical and contemporary art at the same time. In 1990 a series of exhibits highlighting emerging young artists got underway, which would run to five editions.

Rome itself as a theme, in the analysis of its culture and history, was one of the most consistent trends of this decade and beyond. In the visual arts it was represented by the exhibit Rome in the 60s: Beyond Painting, and another entitled All Roads Lead to Rome, a particular tribute to the city in the fields of art, photography, cinema, graphics and poetry. The most significant moments in the city's history were also reconstructed for the exhibit Rome Under the Skies of '44: History, News and Culture from War to Liberation, which covered a dramatic chapter that was nevertheless culturally very much alive, as seen from the vantage point of fifty years later. In 2002 the exhibit Rome 1948-1959: Art, News in the Making and Culture from Neorealismo to the Dolce Vita made use of a rich selection of artworks, objects from the applied arts, and records, as well as an extraordinary number of photographs and film materials, to reconstruct one of the most intense periods in the city's history. Last but not least, in the field of archaeology, the exhibit Aurea Roma documented the Late Antique period in imperial Rome up to the advent of Christianity, with over 400 archaeological finds and works of exceptional beauty.

Important retrospectives of leading 20th-century Italian artists were also held at the Palazzo in these years, such as Giorgio de Chirico pictor optimus in 1992; Alberto Burri: Works from 1944 to 1955 in 1996; Enrico Prampolini: from Futurism to the Informal Style; and Fortunato Depero: from Futurismo to the House of Art in 1994 (the latter two anticipated the important exhibit Futurismo 1909-1944 held at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in 2001 in a collaboration with the Sprengel Museum in Hanover). Another significant event was the exhibit of Richard Long's works in 1994: eight installations expressly created by the artist for the Palazzo delle Esposizioni spaces.

It would be impossible to list all the exhibits held in the 90s, ranging from those dedicated to archaeology, such as Lysippus: His Art and Influence in 1995 and Ulysses: the Myth and the Memory in 1996, to the great masters (Tiziano: Sacred and Profane Love in 1995 and El Greco: Identity and Transformation in 1999; the exhibit on the works of Francesco Borromini in 1999, once again a theme centred around the city of Rome; and The Idea of Beauty: A Tour of 17th-century Rome with Giovan Pietro Bellori, a splendid exhibit on the classicist trend in 17th-century art and the ties to antiquity, mounted by architect Lucio Turchetta and curated by the Ministry of National Heritage and Culture. Lastly, two highly original exhibits in terms of their use of materials and communications: the ‘Studio azzurro' exhibit in 1999, which took over the Palazzo's six main halls for interactive multimedia installations; and Le Temps, an exhibit created by the Centre Pompidou in Paris, also making use of multimedia materials alongside works by contemporary artists.

With the 12th edition of the Quadriennale in 1992, the Agency for the Quadriennale made its return to the Palazzo delle Esposizioni (the preceding edition, during the restoration, had been held at the Palazzo dei Congressi in the EUR quarter). This new edition, entitled Profiles, was divided into several sections: the first devoted to only 33 artists representing different trends; the second inaugurated in September 1996 in two venues (the Palazzo delle Esposizioni and the Ala Mazzoniana at the Termini Station), both of them mounted by Massimiliano Fuksas. This 12th edition showcased the latest generation of artists, and its selection reflected, in this case as well, various critical stances. Finally, with Projections 2000: The Space for Visual Arts in a Multimedia Society, in 1999, the 13th edition of the Quadriennale, mounted by Enzo Serrani, attempted to record all trends then underway, in a sort of exhibit-cum-salon (as Lorenza Trucchi, then president of the Quadriennale Authority, declared at the time).