Last week, Cornell in Rome hosted its first lecture through the Art Department. Alberto Dambruoso is a professor at the Academia di Belle Arti in Foggia as well as the founder of the renowned artist interview and lecture series I Martedì Critici, or The Tuesday Critics.
Dambruoso arrived in Rome when he was 23. Exposed to art from a young age by his art collector father, he quickly specialized in 1960’s era art and the Arte Povera movement. He began I Martedì Critici just over five years ago as a response to a problem: he noticed the trend of people going to galleries and attending openings but not actually speaking about or engaging with the work. In a major way, art was used as a prop for a social event rather than the driving force behind the gathering. The intention of I Martedì Critici was to reengage with art works in a critical and conscious manner while also creating a venue in which to discuss what art is and what it means today.
Founded in a renovated artist’s studio, it began as a small weekly event, attended by Dambruoso’s already impressive collection of art world friends. Slowly, it gained recognition and the refurbished studio filled with people ranging from artists, critics, and museum directors to gallerists, collectors and the interested public. The format was loose, with artists bringing their works, doing performances, and installing works in the space, but the basic outline was the same: an interview-style dialogue between the guest artist and Dambruoso himself.
Over the years, the event outgrew the space and moved from location to location, including a tour to cities as far flung as Milan and Florence. Finally, it found its current resting space within the hallowed lecture halls of the MAXXI and MACRO museums in Rome. This transition of space from studio to museum atmosphere allowed more of the public to attend, but also lost some of its intimacy and freedom. While the studio operated as a laboratory environment in which there was freedom to test out new ideas and young, emerging and unestablished artists were frequently invited to speak, the pedigree of a museum carried with it a formality and caution that now only allowed established, mostly mid-career artists to present. However, some things have not changed and the basic premise of I Martedì Critici has remained consistent: whom Dambruoso presents is a reflection of how he sees art today. The “lectures” still retain their interview format in an attempt to show art in a direct and approachable context. I Martedì Critici is, and always will be, about the process of creating the story of contemporary art as it happens.
Following his lecture, Dambruoso joined the Art majors for guest critiques in their studio spaces downstairs. A phenomenal opportunity, Dambruoso provided his professional feedback and commentary on the paintings, sculptures, drawings, and video pieces presented at each desk. A unique and inspiring talk, Dambruoso’s lecture provided a vivid glimpse into the contemporary art world in Rome.