The Collezione Maramotti opened its doors in 2007. Displayed in what used to be the Max Mara headquarters in Reggio Emilia, one hour away from Milan, it can be visited freely. It includes over 200 works which only represent a fraction of the collection of Achille Maramotti, founder of the Max Mara fashion label. Maramotti’s collection covers the period between 1945 and 2000. He acquired most of the works directly from the studios of artists with whom he had become friends.
The 1957 building was designed by architects Pastorini and Salvarini and expanded twice in the 10 years following its construction. In 2003, Max Mara moved its headquarters to the outskirts of Reggio Emilia, leaving this empty building behind. When, upon Achille Maramotti’s death, his executors decided to show his collection to the public, the conversion of the building into an exhibition venue was entrusted to UK architect Andrew Hapgood. In an approach that respects the building’s style and structure, he created airy and raw open spaces.
This remarkable collection of paintings, especially, but also sculptures and installations is truly showcased in bright, open spaces spanning three floors. The artists – more than 120 – including a huge proportion of Italians, all worked during the second half of the XXth century. Achille Maramotti always selected artists who, in their time, were incorporating experimental and innovative elements into their work.
It includes, in particular, by Claudio Parmiggiani a long black boat hanging from the ceiling, a Francis Bacon, many paintings by Alex Katz and many examples of the Roman school of Pop-Art and Arte Povera. Then there’s the huge words of Christopher Wool, a mural by Mimmo Paladino. We come across a 1982 Jean-Michel Basquiat, and La frutta siamo noi, an installation by Mario Merzwhose whose fresh fruit are replaced every week. Sigmar Polke is next to Anselm Kiefer and Gerhard Richter or Julian Schnabel. From one room to another, in a modernistic or neo-expressionnist style; the works are displayed generously, in large numbers, providing a rather complete landscape of art history in that period.
On the ground floor, two spaces are dedicated to the organisation of temporary exhibitions and 21st-century guests artists, presented in relation and in a dialogue with the collection. “We do not sell and will never sell any item of the collection. And we do not ask for public funding to support us. This ensures we are entirely free,” explains Collezione Director Marina Dacci.
Until 27 September, you can see Time Flies, an exhibition of works by Finnish photographer Esko Männikkö. His 50 photographs dating from 1991 to 2013 show an almost iconic Finland, with snapshots of individuals in their daily lives, in compositions that are reminiscent of those of the old masters. Like this man sitting in front of a stove, wearing socks. Or this other one on his bed, surrounded by objects he collected. The background is an integral part of the composition. You could even say that it causes it, that it triggers the picture. There is nothing pastoral in his snow-covered landscapes. They reveal bits of buildings, melting snow. “It is as though Männikkö were showing us a Finland frozen in time,” adds Marina Dacci. “These photographs are not connected to fashion, or the passage of time. They have a universal dimension. People need someone to hold a mirror up to them, because everything is going too fast. Art gives us the possibility to delve into what is human,” she enthuses further.
In the other ground floor space, we find an installation by Enrico David. A student at the prestigious Royal Academy of Arts in London, seeing his professor Jonathan Miles walking around his works on opening night made him extremely nervous. A large format painting is presented next to a suspended sculpture. The set was created especially for the venue and acquired by the foundation.
A mere one hour’s drive from Milan, this art venue deserves a visit. Every other year, the city also hosts a photography festival until 26 July: Fotografia Europea, including many exhibitions throughout the city. The city museum (Museo Civico) is a must-see. It mixes natural sciences (Lazzaro Spallanzani collection, still displayed as in 1862) and contemporary art, including, by Claudio Parmeggiani, a cross made from spice crates with different colours and scents, La Croce, quite sublime. And on the ceiling of the Panizzi library, there is a mural by Sol LeWitt…
Reggio Emilia, Italy
Reservation required via the site or by phone
Esko Männikkö, Time Flies
Until 27 September
Until 18 October