Margherita Stein: Rebel With a Cause

June 28, 2017

Stein in the house-gallery in Piazza San Carlo in Turin with works by Jannis Kounellis, Luciano Fabro, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Mario Sarotto
Stein in the house-gallery in Piazza San Carlo in Turin with works by Jannis Kounellis, Luciano Fabro, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Mario Sarotto.

Margherita Stein: Rebel With a Cause Opens at Magazzino Italian Art in Cold Spring, New York in June 2017.

Cold Spring, New York — Magazzino, the new private warehouse art space in the Hudson Valley devoted to Postwar and Contemporary Italian art, will be open to the public by appointment only starting June 28, 2017, with an inaugural presentation that will pay homage to Margherita Stein. Founder of the historic Galleria Christian Stein in Turin, Italy, and one of the pioneers of the Arte Povera movement, Magazzino’s premiere presentation will continue Stein’s legacy in the United States by fostering a renewed dialogue around Postwar Italian art. Located along the Hudson River, in Cold Spring, New York, the new space will display works from the Olnick Spanu Collection, with the mission of researching and supporting further recognition of Postwar and Contemporary Italian art in the United States. 

The inaugural presentation will display a curated selection of works created by artists whose careers Stein fostered. Born and based in Turin, Margherita Stein assumed the alias “Christian Stein”, borrowing her husband’s first and last name in order to gain acceptance as she embarked on a career as one of the leading Italian gallerists of her time. Between 1966, when the gallery first opened, until 1999, Stein was responsible for supporting artists associated with Spatialism, the Zero Group and most significantly, Arte Povera, bringing early recognition to this movement, first in Italy and Europe, and later in the United States. Continuing this mission, Magazzino’s inaugural presentation and programming aims to further the historical dialogue and research on Italian art, both past and present. 

Italian art critic and curator, Germano Celant, coined the phrase “Arte Povera” for his celebrated 1967 exhibition in Genova. Meaning “poor art” in Italian, the phrase grew out of the radical stance artists were taking in response to their dissatisfaction with the values established by political, industrial and cultural institutions. The movement features impressive sculptural installations, illustrating artists' preoccupation with history and myth and their preference for humble, often ephemeral materials. These young Italians opposed the commercialization of the art object and aimed to eradicate the boundaries between media as well as between nature and art. Stein was active in the creation of the movement and participated in the debates these artists held on the changes that were taking place in contemporary art. Her commitment to their vision has proven to be an essential part of the history of Arte Povera. Based on Stein’s legacy, the inaugural display at Magazzino will showcase over four decades of historic works by artists including Giovanni Anselmo, Alighiero Boetti, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Luciano Fabro, Jannis Kounellis, Mario Merz, Marisa Merz, Giulio Paolini, Giuseppe Penone, Michelangelo Pistoletto, and Gilberto Zorio.

 “The inaugural presentation at Magazzino will not only focus on the core group of artists associated with the Arte Povera movement but will also incorporate artists from the following generation, including Marco Bagnoli, Domenico Bianchi and Remo Salvadori,” states Director Vittorio Calabrese. “The aim of the initial presentation is not solely to be a survey of Arte Povera, but rather an homage to the vision of Margherita Stein and her role in shaping and advancing these artists’ careers. Our goal is to always have one gallery dedicated to presenting contemporary art.”

Magazzino draws architectural components from an existing structure which has been repurposed within a larger design conceived and led by Spanish architect Miguel Quismondo. Quismondo has doubled the square footage of the former space by completing the original L-shape into a rectangle, leaving a courtyard in the center, and creating a dialogue between the existing and the new addition. The state of the art facility will feature more than 18,000 square feet for art display and a library, which will feature publications on Italian art and will be accessible free of charge, by appointment to residents, students and scholars.  

“The project pays tribute to its name by reiterating its integrity as an industrial warehouse,” explains architect Miguel Quismondo. “The existing building has been striped to its basic components, while the addition is built with structural cast-in-place concrete and metal girders, creating a modulated repetition. The balance of natural light, the contrasting shell and versatile height of the new component establishes a harmonious dialogue between the existing and the addition.”  

Following the completion of Magazzino, a publication will be launched on a photographic project, documenting the construction of Magazzino from start to finish, by photographer Marco Anelli. Anelli’s works portray the workers on site through the realization of the architect’s design that transformed a space originally designed as a farmers’ warehouse—then a dairy distribution center and most recently a rugged computer factory—into a space dedicated to Italian art. Beginning in summer 2017, Magazzino will join the thriving arts scene of Hudson Valley and will feature a range of educational programming for the local community. The new art warehouse space will be available as an academic resource to those who visit, the surrounding schools and members of the local community. 

About Magazzino and Olnick Spanu

Magazzino is a private warehouse art space in the Hudson Valley devoted to Postwar and Contemporary Italian art. Meaning warehouse in Italian, the 20,000 square-foot structure is reimagined by architect Miguel Quismondo and dedicated to select works from the Olnick Spanu Collection. Co-founded by Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu, and directed by Vittorio Calabrese, Magazzino is free to the public, by appointment. In addition to its curatorial program, Magazzino serves as a resource for scholars and students to utilize its extensive library and archive of Arte Povera, as well as a cultural hub for the vibrant Hudson Valley community. Magazzino bridges collaborations with American and Italian organization to support contemporary Italian artists and foster discussions about Postwar and contemporary Italian Art in the United States. Magazzino’s offsite programming includes sponsoring Artecinema, a screening of Italian films on contemporary art and architecture curated by Laura Trisorio (December 9, 2016, in collaboration with Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò at New York University), and Ornaghi & Prestinari, the New York premier of Milan-based artists Valentina Ornaghi and Claudio Prestinari (October 24 – December 9, 2016, in collaboration with Casa Italiana Zerilli Marimò at New York University and Galleria Continua in Italy).

 Olnick Spanu is a private initiative established by longtime art advocates Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu. With a focus on Italian art, it is comprised of the Olnick Spanu Collection, Art Program, publications, and commissioned architectural projects. Olnick Spanu and Magazzino will continue to support the current generation of Italian artists through temporary presentations in its project space as well as in other venues. For example, Magazzino Italian Art, is a donor for the 57thInternational Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia opening 2017 and Documenta 14 in Athens (2017).

 About Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu, Co-Founders of Magazzino and Olnick Spanu 

From New York and Sardinia, Italy, respectively, Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu, residents of Garrison, New York for 25 years, have developed an extensive collection of Postwar and contemporary Italian art in the United States. Olnick and Spanu began their collection by acquiring works by Modern masters and American Pop artists, an art movement contemporary but juxtaposed to Arte Povera. Their admiration of Italian art and culture and interest in exploring conceptual artistic movements of a similar period but from a different perspective, took them on a journey that eventually led them to developing one of the largest collections of Postwar Italian art and Murano glass in the U.S. Longtime supporters of the arts, Olnick and Spanu have continued to further their commitment to the arts through the Olnick Spanu Art Program, a one-year artist residency program that invites contemporary Italian artists to create site-specific installations on the couple’s property in Garrison, NY. Through this program they have premiered work by ten emerging to mid-career Italian artists to American audiences: Giorgio Vigna, Massimo Bartolini, Mario Airò, Domenico Bianchi, Remo Salvadori, Stefano Arienti, Bruna Esposito, Marco Bagnoli, Francesco Arena and  Paolo Canevari. 

 About Vittorio Calabrese, Director of Olnick Spanu and Magazzino  

A native of Irpinia, Italy, Vittorio Calabrese serves as Director of Magazzino and oversees Olnick Spanu’s art initiatives and program. Calabrese’s work for Magazzino includes managing the research, loans and acquisitions of the permanent collection and spearheading strategy for Magazzino’s communication while liaising with neighboring art institutions and universities on programming. For the Olnick Spanu Art Program, Calabrese’s directs the conception, planning, and installation of site-specific commissions, in collaboration with the patrons, program artists, architects, and manufacturers. He specializes in the management of international and cultural institutions, collection management and appraising. Calabrese holds a BA and MSc in Business Administration and Management from Bocconi University, Milan, and an MA in History of Art and the Art Market from Christie’s Education New York. 

 Miguel Quismondo, Director of Architecture and Construction of Magazzino 

Born and raised in Spain, Miguel Quismondo, AIA, received his degree in architecture from the Polytechnic School in Madrid and developed his career in the United Sates, first at Perkins+Will and later collaborating with Spanish based architect, Alberto Campo Baeza, in the construction of Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu’s Garrison house. Over the past decade Quismondo has worked for Olnick Spanu on the design, construction and management of the house, the Olnick Spanu Art Program, and Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu’s latest project, Magazzino. Quismondo holds a Master’s degrees in Real Estate Development from Columbia University and Construction Management from New York University. His work has been included in the Venice Biennale and featured in Architectural RecordA+U, and Casabella, among other notable publications.

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