Today with my contemporary art class, I visited Maxxi, Rome’s newest museum addition to the contemporary art world. Maxxi has been on my top 5 things to visit here in Rome so today was exciting for me. At Temple, my class and I hopped on the number 2 tram that took us right up Via Flaminia where we got off and walked only a block down Via Guido Reni, passing the Palazzetto dello Sport and Stadio Flaminio on the way. My teacher then pointed us to Maxxi, conservatively hidden by its facade which blended in with the rest of the buildings on its street. This is something that was surprising to me because I was expecting the more common wow factor of contemporary art museums and their architecture, which stands out visibly from the street or a block away. I then learned from my teacher that part of the planning of Maxxi was to blend it in with the rest of the buildings on the street so that a passerby wouldn’t be able to notice it was there until walking up to the building and going around the side to the ‘front’ entrance. After passing by the facade, Zaha Hadid’s architecture is beautifully constructed in the 65,000 square foot building. Smooth concrete, winding black staircases, and white walls, Maxxi is constructed to hold its Italian art in a way that most contemporary museums don’t. It’s meant to be winding and not in a chronological order. The rooms aren’t sectioned off by photography or paintings like most museums. The winding black staircases can be quite confusing and it is easy to find yourself a little lost, but still happy. The collection of Maxxi thus far is not that big so some time is spent walking up, down and winding around, which was ok with me.
This experience in Rome of going to contemporary museums with a small class of nine people is really interesting. I’m used to going to museums or galleries by myself or with my family, which I love, but it is a different experience going with a class and fellow students my age. Going with my class allows for discussions on certain works or exhibitions as a whole, and we discuss the museum itself; its placement, architecture, and planning.
The temporary exhibition which we spent the most time on was by the artist Gino DeDominicis. The exhibition is running until the 7th of November, so if you get a chance to swing by, do it! Gino was an Italian artist and very controversial and radical for his time. Tall, handsome, and rarely reliable, Gino would say he was coming to public talks or prize acceptances, yet never show up. He would sell a work and then ask for it back, destroy it, and say he never sold it. Or he would ask for the work back, say it wasn’t finished, change it completely and hand it back to the buyer as something completely different. At one point in his career he destroyed his entire archive, leaving nothing of him. He was an artist obsessed with immortality and his show at Maxxi displays that. Before entering Maxxi, a huge installation piece of his lays outside. I say lay because it is a skeleton of about 100 feet that encompasses Maxxi’s entrance. The collection consisted of a variety of his work. A theme was a balancing gold pencil, which is seen in many of his works as this question of immortality and immobility. I am no expert on Gino, and I do not want to portray the artist in any wrong way. I’m including this link to a 1990 New York Times article, which sums up Ginos work nicely. http://www.nytimes.com/1990/01/05/arts/review-art-death-myth-and-a-resistance-to-conventions.html
The visit to Maxxi was great and I will definitely be going back while I’m still here in Rome.