Now Open: Robert Olnick Pavilion at Magazzino Italian Art
September 14, 2023
The Robert Olnick Pavilion at Magazzino Italian Art is now open to the public, greatly expanding the offerings on the landscaped campus in Cold Spring, New York with special exhibitions in this new, freestanding 13,000-square-foot building. While the original, 20,000-square-foot building from 2017 will remain dedicated to the Arte Povera movement, which is central to the museum’s renowned Olnick Spanu Collection, the pavilion provides space for Magazzino to range more widely through modern and contemporary Italian art and present significant works on loan.
Offering Magazzino an additional two floors of gallery and education space, as well as a café and museum store, the Robert Olnick Pavilion is designed by Alberto Campo Baeza and Miguel Quismondo, the latter being the architect for Magazzino’s original building.
Visitors to the pavilion will be welcomed by a trio of inaugural special exhibitions:
· a rare survey of trailblazing work from the 1960s and ‘70s by painter
Mario Schifano (1934–1998);
· a focused installation of paintings and sculpture by Ettore Spalletti (1940–2019);
· a selection of masterpieces of Murano glass by Carlo Scarpa (1906–1978) from the Olnick Spanu collection.
A unique mirror painting by the celebrated artist Michelangelo Pistoletto titled L’Arte unisce le generazioni–Art unites the generations–Robert and Sylvia Olnick (2022) welcomes visitors at the entrance of the Robert Olnick Pavilion. Pistoletto created this work as a poignant tribute to Nancy Olnick’s parents, Sylvia and Robert. The new pavilion bears the name of Nancy Olnick’s father and is a testament to his enduring legacy in the arts and philanthropy.
L’Arte unisce le generazioni–Art unites the generations–Robert and Sylvia Olnick, 2022, is presented in tandem with Pistoletto’s Stracci italiani, 2007, which graces the entrance to the museum’s first pavilion, inaugurated in 2017. To mark the artist’s 90th birthday along with Magazzino Italian Art’s sixth anniversary, a special project titled Welcome to New York! was dedicated to Pistoletto in Gallery 8 at the museum. This project features seven mirrored paintings and sculptural work spanning the artist’s career from the 1960s onwards. In the same space, Sfera di giornali, 1966–2017, a gift from Pistoletto to Magazzino, is shown. This spherical artwork was rolled down Cold Spring’s main street as part of the artist’s Walking Sculpture performance in 2017.
On view through January 8, 2024, Mario Schifano: The Rise of the ‘60s is the first major survey of work from the 1960s and ‘70s by the Roman painter born in Libya. On view will be eighty works, the great majority on loan from international collections, including twelve from Fondazione Maurizio Calvesi Collection that have never been exhibited before.
Organized by Magazzino Italian Art in collaboration with the Archivio Mario Schifano and curated by Alberto Salvadori, the exhibition is presented on the sixtieth anniversary of Schifano’s first visit to the United States—a turning point in his career—and includes works from the beginning of the 1960s made in homage to Italy’s painters of commercial billboards. With their painterly play on the logos of companies such as Coca-Cola and Esso, these works represent a parallel, independent development to American Pop Art.
Also on view are series including his monochromes, emulsion canvases dedicated to TV Landscapes, and photographs from a road trip in the United States. While keenly attuned to the currents of the moment (as acknowledged by the title Rise of the ‘60s, inspired by a book by art historian Thomas Crow), Schifano also drew continually from, and commented on, the historic work of artists including Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Leonardo da Vinci, Piero della Francesca and Kazimir Malevich. For Schifano, painting was a form of wandering, in which he brought together his encounters with art history, photography, current events, love and sex: or tutto (everything), as he titled one of his paintings. His work was an allencompassing practice that reflected both his own energies and the zeal of a generation of writers, poets, and intellectuals.
The exhibition will be accompanied by the publication Mario Schifano: The Rise of the ‘60s, curated by Alberto Salvadori, Lara Conte and Francesco Guzzetti with texts by Alberto Salvadori, Andrea Cortellessa, Claire Gilman, Daniela Lancioni, Francesco Guzzetti, Giorgia Gastaldon, Giuliana Bruno, Lara Conte, Luciano Chessa, Raphael Rubinstein, Riccardo Venturi and Stefano Chiodi.
Also on view through January 8, 2024, Ettore Spalletti: Parole di colore is specially conceived for the new pavilion by Fondazione Ettore Spalletti and Alberto Salvadori in collaboration with architect Alberto Campo Baeza. Featuring five works by Spalletti, the project is installed in Gallery 2, an isotropic room built as a perfect cube, in which each wall is punctured by a single square window. Set at different heights and positions, the windows admit shafts of light that cross through the isotropic gallery differently, hour by hour, in a space where color, light, and volume are in equilibrium.
The exhibition features three large monochromatic wall pieces—Sia o no così, rosa; Così, rosa; Sia o no così, azzurro—painted in 2009 in densely layered color, ritually applied in the same manner at the same time of day. They are juxtaposed with the sculpture Colonna nel vuoto, 2019, a column built from a painted wooden frame. In dialogue with Campo Baeza’s isotropic gallery, the sculpture can be seen as a symbol, a possible source of reinterpretation and innovation in the relationship between art and architecture.
Alongside the paintings and column is Disco, 1981, a piece created from black lacquered wood inserted into one of the walls. Disco introduces a magical and asymmetrical element to the space—a presence suggesting a sense of the sublime.
Parole di colore is a reflection on Spalletti’s work in relation to the cube designed by Alberto Campo Baeza; a space that feels like a sanctuary. As Spalletti explained, “In my work, there is always a desire to offer a space in which to feel good, in which to feel enveloped and somehow protected. The most important value for me is the gift.”
Generous support for Ettore Spalletti: Parole di colore is provided by Marian Goodman Gallery, Galleria Lia Rumma, and Vistamare.
The third exhibition, on view through March 31, 2025, is Carlo Scarpa: Timeless Masterpieces, a selection of fifty-six exquisite Murano glassworks from the Olnick Spanu Collection.
Curated by Marino Barovier, the exhibition reconstructs the creative journey of the renowned architect from 1926 to 1947, a period during which he collaborated with the two most prominent Murano glassmakers of the time: M.V.M. Cappellin & Co. and Venini.
“The term ‘masterpieces’ is the most appropriate for these glass works,” Barovier says, “as they are extraordinary works in terms of design and material quality; works that have made history in the workshops where they were created and are reference points for the artistic panorama of 20th-century Murano glass.”
The Olnick Spanu Collection comprises five hundred and ninety-six Murano works by forty-three artists and designers, among them Vittorio Zecchin, Artisti Barovier, Napoleone Martinuzzi, Fulvio Bianconi, Massimo Vignelli, Thomas Stearns, Giorgio Vigna and Yoichi Ohira. The Olnick Spanu Collection preserves one hundred and fifty-six masterpieces by Scarpa, making it one of the world’s largest collections of his work.
Among the glassworks created for M.V.M, the exhibition features the Pasta vitrea series, created between 1929 and 1930 and distinguished by their brilliant colors, material consistency, and gold-leaf application. Among the glassworks created for Venini, notable examples include a vase and cup from the Laccati neri e rossi series from 1940, whose characteristic coloring gives them the appearance of Chinese lacquer.
“In the furnace, Scarpa observes everything, he is curious and thirsty for knowledge, eager to manipulate the material, change its appearance, colors, and forms,” Barovier writes. “His journey takes place discreetly alongside the glass masters who have the experience, who know the tricks of an ancient craft rooted in tradition passed down from master to master. But he himself becomes a master: he engages in lengthy conversations with the artisans, especially with masters Ferdinando Toso, known as Fei, and Arturo Biasutto, known as Boboli, with whom he establishes a privileged relationship. He stimulates research and opens the way to unexpected proposals.”