The Italian Almanac

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De Chirico in the Mazzolini collection

Italian News - October 12

A spectacular, secret modern-art collection belonging to a deceased Italian nurse with great connections has gone on show for the first time. Until February 4, Piacenza's Palazzo Farnese hosts a selection of the 900 paintings and sculptures that were carefully assembled during the 20th century by Rosa Domenica Mazzolini.

No one knew the collection existed until Mazzolini died in 2005 and left it to the Catholic Church in her will. The late nurse must have been very good at her job as many of the treasures were given to her by the artists in thanks for the care she gave them.

The exhibition is entitled 'L'Anima del '900' (The Soul of the 20th Century). It features works by the cream of the Italian modern-art world, hardly any of which have been seen by the public before, and covers most of the major movements of the last century.

Organizers have taken a chronological approach, begining with paintings produced at the start of the 1900s. There are samples of Giorgio de Chirico's metaphysical paintings, which paved the way for Surrealism, and major works by Carlo Carra', a leading figure in the Futurist movement, Filippo De Pisis, Massimo Campigli and Mario Sironi.

The show follows with the passion-rich landscapes of Arturo Tosi and the avant-garde works of Renato Birolli produced in the 1930s. Paintings by the great Lucio Fontana (1899-1968) take centre stage as things move forward to the 1950s. Fontana is credited with expanding the boundaries of artistic expression, with his use of materials and gestures like the slashing of the canvas. Today his works command millions on the art market.

The Mazzolini collection is made up of 872 paintings and 27 sculptures. It was originally started by a doctor Mazzolini worked with, Giovanni Battista Simonetti, who was well in with the Italian art scene. Mazzolini maintained the connections and enriched the collection after Battista Simonetti's death.

L'Anima del '900 is open Tuesday to Sunday and tickets cost 10 euros.