Palazzo della Farnesina, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Rome, Italy

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, also indicated with the acronym MAECI or as Farnesina, from the name of its headquarters, the Palazzo della Farnesina in Rome, is the dicastery of the Italian government which has the task of implementing The foreign policy of the Italian government. Represents Italy in the international context.

With the creation of the Collezione Farnesina in 2001, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has made of contemporary artistic research an area of strategic intervention of its cultural policy.

The acquisition formula based on loan agreements, free of charge, has led to a steady development of the collection through particularly relevant works for the history of Italian art in the 20th century: from Arturo Martini to Mario Sironi, from Carla Accardi to Jannis Kounellis.

The building
The building was started in 1937 by the architects Enrico Del Debbio, Arnaldo Foschini and Vittorio Ballio Morpurgo, after the different stages of a competition that included different locations of the building, the last of which was wanted on the high site and despite the contrary opinion of architects placed it right at the northern end of the Foro Italico. The complex, in fact, was supposed to be the new Palazzo del Littorio, seat of the National Fascist Party, but the use for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had already been changed in 1940. The works were interrupted in 1943 and resumed after the war (1946).

The building reflects the canons of simplified monumentalism or neoclassicism, with its rational geometries and neoclassical references, from symmetry to the marble white of travertine. The travertine facade is made vibrant by a visible design of the cladding and uneven openings in the various levels. With more than 1300 rooms and 9 floors with a facade 169 meters long and 51 meters high, it alone covers an area of 120,000 m² and a built volume of 720,000 m³, the Farnesina is, together with the Royal Palace of Caserta, one of the most voluminous buildings in Italy. In the building’s 1,300 rooms, 7,000 people settle, there are 6.5 km of corridors, 7 art exhibition rooms, 20 meeting rooms and 1 international conference room.

In 1959 the Palazzo della Farnesina was completed by the architects themselves, with slight variations compared to the original project, and became the seat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, until then dispersed in thirteen separate offices.

Archive diplomatic historian
The diplomatic historical documentation produced by the central offices of the ministry and by diplomatic and consular representations abroad is conserved and inventoried in the diplomatic historical archive. The originals of the international documents are also preserved.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
The tasks of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is governed by Law 23 April 2003, n. 109, or the functions of representation and protection of the interests of Italy at international level, which are the responsibility of the State on the basis of article 117 of the Constitution of the Italian Republic, relating to political, economic, social and cultural relations with foreign countries, of relations with other states and with international organizations. The Ministry represents Italy (through the so-called ‘plenipotentiary ministers’) for the stipulation and revision of international treaties and conventions, for matters of international law and litigation.

In relation to the institutions of the European Union, it represents the Italian position in the common foreign and security policy, the CFSP, foreseen by the Treaty of the European Union and in the relations relating to the external political and economic relations of the European Union, the European Community and the ‘ EURATOM. It cooperates with international organizations for the development, emigration and protection of Italians and workers abroad. On the other hand, the functions of participation of the Italian Republic in the European Union, as well as the implementation of the relative policies, are the responsibility of the Prime Minister.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is a member of the Supreme Defense Council.

Farnesina Collection
The Farnesina Collection is a collection of 20th century Italian artworks located within the Palace of the Farnesina, the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome.

In 1999 the Directorate General for Cultural Promotion and Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launched the initiative to exhibit at the MFA building a complex of works representative of ‘ Italian art of the twentieth century. The Farnesina Collection traces the history of the Italian twentieth century through the currents of ‘ art nouveau, the futurism, of metaphysics, of’ abstraction, dell ‘ arte povera, the trans and the new Roman school.

With the creation of the Collezione Farnesina in 2001, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has made of contemporary artistic research an area of strategic intervention of its cultural policy.

The acquisition formula based on loan agreements, free of charge, has led to a steady development of the collection through particularly relevant works for the history of Italian art in the 20th century: from Arturo Martini to Mario Sironi, from Carla Accardi to Jannis Kounellis.

The collection, edited by Maurizio Calvesi until 2013, contains the most representative expressions of the visual arts of the 20th century Italian. The paintings, sculptures, installations and mosaics are distributed in the large spaces of the Farnesina building on the long path formed by corridors, meeting rooms and ministry environments.

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The collection follows the history of 20th-century Italian art through the currents of Art Nouveau, Futurism, Metaphysics, Artisticism, Poor Art, Transavanguardia, to the latest artistic productions, and includes important works of art Duilio Cambellotti, Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni and Fortunato Depero, Mario Sironi, Giorgio De Chirico and Carlo Carrà, Giuseppe Capogrossi, Alberto Burri, Carla Accardi, Luigi Montanarini, Getulio Alviani, Piero Dorazio, Osvaldo Licini, Giulio Turcato, Emilio Vedova, Renato Guttuso, Fabrizio Plessi and Ardengo Soffici, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Jannis Kounellis, Mario Ceroli, Mario Merz, Giuseppe Penone, Alighiero Boetti and Giulio Paolini, Sandro Chia, Francesco Clemente, Enzo Cucchi and Mimmo Paladino, Roberto Almagno, Andrea Vizzini, Getulio Alviani, Omar Galliani, Bice Lazzari, Gino Marotta, Paola Gandolfi, Stefano Di Stasio, Nunzio, Piero Pizzi Cannella, Giuseppe Gallo and Mustafa Sabbagh.

Collection history
The Farnesina Collection, contemporary art collection of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, was born in 2000 on the initiative of the then Secretary General Amb. Umberto Vattani, to underline a precise planning direction of the Ministry, which has made contemporary artistic research a strategic intervention area of its cultural policy.

Starting from a first significant nucleus of acquisitions, which saw the commission of an important decorative apparatus and numerous works of art during the 1950s and 1960s, the work of several scientific committees gave rise to a selection that collected works of the highest profile for the history of Italian art of the twentieth century.

The twentieth century
The choices made over time have privileged historical masters of the first half of the twentieth century, between Futurism (Balla, Boccioni, Depero), Metaphysics (de Chirico) and return to figuration, in its twentieth century twentieth-century declension (Carrà, Sironi, Soffici) and anti-Novecento (Cagli, Campigli, Pirandello, Scipione, Martini), as well as protagonists of the post-war period, both in the realist (Guttuso) and abstractionist (Accardi, Sanfilippo, Dorazio, Consagra), and in the informal (Afro, Burri, Scarpitta) spatialist (Fontana).

Equally documented the developments of the second half of the twentieth century, in the poor (Kounellis, Merz, Paolini), pop (Angeli, Pascali, Rotella, Schifano), conceptual (Isgrò, Mauri, Manzoni) and perceptive (Castellani, Bonalumi, Marchegiani ), until the last decades of the century, between Nuova figurazione (Vespignani), Anachronism (Mariani, Galliani, Gandolfi) and Transavanguardia (Chia, Cucchi, Paladino).

The arrangement and layout of the Farnesina Collection – which currently concerns the ground, raised, first, second and fourth floors of the building, and which in perspective will extend to the entire building – was guided and set on three criteria. First of all, we moved towards an update of the works on display, focusing above all on the research of recent decades, while maintaining some elements of continuity with the history of the collection. The second criterion was the harmonious relationship with the internal spaces of the Palazzo della Farnesina and with the artistic interventions coeval with the architectural structure or immediately subsequent. Finally, a certain quality of presentation of the works was privileged, to improve their visibility, lighting and explanatory apparatuses,

The halls on the main floor
Monumental works by Emilio Vedova, Sandro Chia, Osvaldo Calò and Michelangelo Pistoletto found their place in the Atrium of Honor. The staircase that goes up to the first floor has kept the two sculptures by Mirko and the tapestry by Sergio Selva, while the solemnity of the Hall of Honor communicates with works by Burri, Novelli, Mochetti and Piacentino.

The Forma 1 Room, which historically housed the first nucleus of the Farnesina Collection, includes works by some of the artists who had originally been part of the group of the same name, such as Accardi, Consagra, Dorazio, Perilli, Sanfilippo and Turcato.

We also wanted to give some importance to the corridors, which with their extension (equal, in the whole Palace, to 6.5 kilometers) are one of the hallmarks of the Palace, including some in the exhibition itinerary. That said of the Ceremonial compares the cine-visual researches of Alviani, Biasi, Bonalumi and those between pop and conceptual of Ceroli, Mauri and Kounellis. The corridor of the General Secretariat is divided into three parts: in the first, different forms of return to figuration are compared, with works by Mario Merz, Ontani and Patella, while in the second, artists made their debut on the Roman scene in the eighties such as Nunzio, Tirelli, Bianchi and Pirri. Ideally collected in a third section are the works by Spalletti, Griffa, Giliberti, Cotani and Rotella, as well as photographs by Basilico and Jodice.

Two site-specific interventions by Remo Salvadori characterize the Mappamondi Room, where the documentaries of Sironi and the sculptures by Martini and Marini of the previous setting are still present, documenting the moment of the “twentieth century”.

The second floor: the 80s and 90s
The second floor contains a selection, very heterogeneous, of the voices of the artists who animated the panorama of Italian art between the 80s and 90s. The set-up, inaugurated in May 2016, is still under development.

The fourth floor: the construction site of the Palazzo della Farnesina and the artists of the 21st century
Furthermore, two exhibitions are exhibited on the fourth floor of the Palazzo della Farnesina. The first, dedicated to the building site of the building itself, includes reproductions of Enrico Del Debbio’s drawings (from the exteriors of the 1930s to the interiors of the 1950s) and a selection of works acquired by competition from the Ministry during the 1960s, together with some sketches.

The second, with the title “System”, collects a selection of works that want to testify the plurality of voices and expressions of contemporary art of the last twenty years, with a particular focus on the younger generations. The works presented here come, for one part, from some of the artists who participated in the various editions of the ITaliens exhibition at the Embassy of Italy in Berlin (2010-2011), for the other part from the selection made by the Scientific Committee of the Collection.

The Zero Space
Finally, on the ground floor, the “Zero Space” houses, in rotation, some particularly significant works set up together with the artists themselves: at this moment you can admire “Love difference – Mediterranean Sea” and “Terzo paradiso” by Michelangelo Pistoletto, and “Materia first “by Fabrizio Plessi.