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  Cornell University

Cornell in Rome

College of Architecture, Art and Planning

Modern Art in Italy

Contemporary art does not receive the same audience as older art does. You really have to search to find it. Shara Wasserman’s class entitled “Modern Art in Italy,” introduces students to the relatively new presence of galleries, contemporary art museums, the art market and contemporary art collecting in Rome. We have also had the opportunity to visit some of the galleries and museums beginning to influence the contemporary art scene here in Rome.

Recently, we had an experience traveling to MACRO, a contemporary art museum located in Testaccio, a young, lively neighborhood. This particular venue is dedicated to temporary exhibitions and is open later in the day to cater to the younger crowd who are more likely to stay out later.

The museum is set up in an old slaughterhouse in which the apparatus for slaughter and pens for the animals are still standing.  The total effect is an incredibly eerie place in which modern art can stand out. However it was the building itself, rather than the art, that had the biggest impact on me. It was a very memorable space; I will be sure to return in the future.

A sign for the museum next to a complex of animal stalls
A sign for the museum next to a complex of animal stalls
View from the inside of the old slaughterhouse. Note the contraption on the top and the scale of the space.
View from the inside of the old slaughterhouse. Note the contraption on the top and the scale of the space.
Students rest on an interactive art piece.
Students rest on an interactive art piece.

Another museum we visited is called Maxxi. It was designed by famed architect Zaha Hadid for the competition to build a museum entirely dedicated to modern art. I had a sense of extreme vertigo walking through the museum; the floors were translucent/transparent at times.

I was shocked at how few pieces of art the museum had to display. There was a whole exhibit on just the construction of the building itself. Other than that, I believe I saw a total of six pieces of art throughout the colossal building, all of them installations/culture. Because MAXXI was completed very recently, its collection is very small but growing. It is a wide open space ready for art to fill its walls and exhibition spaces.

A view from the outside of the museum
A view from the outside of the museum

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