The 19th century collections. Civic Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art of Turin

Civic Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art of Turin presents itself to the public in a “new guise” through the innovative rearrangement of its permanent collections. The GAM of Turin organize an “impossible” guided tour of the museum’s nineteenth-century collections. The GAM collection with a structural intervention on the building, digital technology give the possibility of returning virtually to those spaces through shots taken in a hundred years ago.

Since its opening in 1863, which took place close to the unification of Italy when Turin was the capital of the new kingdom, to date, the museum has experienced various exhibition metamorphoses, now proposing a distribution of the works according to a chronological value, the result of new reflections, which allows us to grasp the evolution of collections, acquisitions and cultural policies promoted by its directors. Among the latter we mention Pio Agodino, the first to lead the museum, Emanuele d’Azeglio, Vittorio Avondo, Enrico Thovez, Lorenzo Rovere, Vittorio Viale and Luigi Mallé.

Visitors will be accompanied to the rooms on the second floor, where works by Antonio Canova, Massimo D’Azeglio, Antonio Fontanesi and the Rivara school are protagonists of the cultural landscape in the nineteenth century, to continue on the first floor, through the works of the twentieth century, among which the names of Carlo Carrà, Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni and Andy Warhol stand out.

In addition to the art itself, the general layout of the new installation of the GAM permanent collection takes into account the history, cultural policy and socio-economic context in which the artistic experiences have matured. We therefore want to recount through a series of meetings the evolution of the museum’s thinking in the various historical phases through the choices and acquisitions of the directors. From 1863 to 1967, in fact, 9 directors followed one another and thanks to their contributions to the history of GAM a reflection on the concept of time will startaccording to the theories of Walter Benjamin, philosopher, who conceives the past as the other face of the present, deriving from and produced by it.

Collection History
Torino was the first Italian city to foster a public collection of modern art as an integral part of its Civic Museum, which opened in 1863. The collections were originally housed with the ancient art collections in a building close to the Mole Antonelliana.

In 1895 they were transferred to a building near corso Siccardi (now corso Galileo Ferraris), which had been built years earlier for an art exhibition, and where there they remained until 1942.

After the building’s destruction during the World War II, the current building, designed by Carlo Bassi and Goffredo Boschetti, was erected on the same site and was inaugurated in 1959. The building later became unusable in the early 1980s and was opened to the public again in 1993 after extensive redevelopment.

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The collections currently comprise over 45,000 works including paintings, sculptures, installations and photographs in addition to an extensive collection of drawings and engravings and one of the most important European collections of art films and videos. On the strength this array of holdings, the GAM keeps true to its original commitment to contemporary research and fosters on-going interaction between its historical works and contemporary cultural debate by developing its exhibition programme with a view to closely linking the present day and the historical collections.

The collection’s works have been arranged and change over time, so visitors can rediscover the collections and refresh their analytical approach to its masterpieces. Hence the work of the main Italian nineteenth century artists, like Fontanesi, Fattori, Pellizza da Volpedo e Medardo Rosso, and of twentieth century artists, such as Morandi, Casorati, Martini and De Pisis, can return to the present tense and display their depth through close comparisons with works of past international avant-gardes, of which the Museum holds important examples ranging from Max Ernst to Paul Klee and Picabia. It also holds works from post-World War II new avant-gardes and one of the most extensive collections of Arte Povera, including work by Paolini, Pistoletto, Zorio Anselmo, Boetti, Penone as well as contemporary art work, to which the Museum allocates considerable exhibition space.

Civic Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art of Turin
The Civic Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art of Turin is located in via Magenta 31 in Turin, Italy. It was founded around 1891 – 95. It houses the permanent artistic collections of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It is part of the Torino Musei Foundation, which also includes the MAO (Oriental Art Museum), Palazzo Madama and Casaforte degli Acaja (Civic Museum of Ancient Art), the medieval village and fortress.

GAM – the Civic Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Arts – is Italy’s oldest modern art museum. Since opening to the public in 1863 numerous masterpieces has been added to its collections over time. At present, GAM’s collections comprise over 47,000 works, ranging from paintings and sculptures to installations and photographic art, as well as a rich collection of drawings and engravings, and one of the largest artist’s film and video collections in Europe.

On the strength of this heritage, GAM continues to implement its original commitment to contemporary research by constantly linking its historical works with today’s cultural debate and ensuring that the exhibition programme is closely correlated with the collections. Works from the collections are exhibited in thematic groupings that change over time, ensuring that visitors always see the collections from a new angle and can make a fresh analysis of the Gallery’s masterpieces.

Works by both the leading Italian nineteenth-century artists, like Fontanesi, Fattori, Pellizza da Volpedo and Medardo Rosso, and the twentieth-century masters, including Morandi, Casorati, Martini and De Pisis, have reacquired their capacity to speak to the present, and to show off all their complexity on a par with works from the historic international avant-gardes, outstanding examples of which are also in the collection: from Max Ernst to Paul Klee and Picabia, as well as works by the new post-war avant-garde movements, with one of the largest collections of Arte Povera – including works by Paolini, Boetti, Anselmo, Zorio, Penone and Pistoletto – but also the current artistic output to which GAM dedicates extensive exhibition space.