Contemporary Art in Calabria, from Boccioni to Berlingeri

Journey through Calabrian contemporary art: artists, works, places
Mammola Musaba 4 (foto Luca Oliva)

© Luca Oliva

Art and Culture

Among the lesser-known aspects of a region linked to the classical imagery of Magna Graecia, Calabrian contemporary art has, over time, played an important role in the development of certain international avant-gardes and in the creation of a local artistic and cultural scenario that is increasingly alive and worthy of discovery.

It can be said that contemporary art in Calabria was born out of the impetus of the artistic manifestos and national and international movements that, starting in the early 20th century, animated the avant-garde panorama of painting and sculpture, Futurism in primis.

Since then, Calabrian creativity has followed uneven paths, which although "patchy" still describe an itinerary of the contemporary in Calabria from north to south.

The history of Contemporary Art in Calabria

When talking about the beginnings of contemporary art in Calabria, one cannot but start with the city of Reggio Calabria and one of its most illustrious sons, Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916), one of the founders and co-signers of the Italian Futurist Manifesto.

An Italian painter, sculptor and writer, Boccioni was among the first to visually represent movement and speed, so much so that his research into the relationship between object and space strongly influenced the fate of 20th century painting and sculpture.

One of Boccioni's most famous works, the sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913, depicted on 20 euro cent coins), returned to Calabria in the form of a cast bronze made from the original plaster by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, who fulfilled his artist friend's wish to be present in his homeland.

The statue was then donated by the collector Carlo Bilotti to the National Gallery of Cosenza "Palazzo Arnone", today one of the cult places of contemporary art in Calabria.

Regione Calabria

Bilotti himself donated to his hometown, Cosenza, the extraordinary collection of artwork that now graces Corso Mazzini.

Here, in the centre of the pedestrian area, are the contemporary sculptures that make up the MAB - Bilotti Open Air Museum, one of the first en plein air museums in Southern Italy (2006) where the following works are located Sacha Sosno's Bronzes, Emilio Greco's The Great Bather, Salvador Dali's St. George and the Dragon, Giorgio de Chirico's Hector and Andromache, Giacomo Manzù's The Cardinal, four Paracarri and Pietro Consagra's Bifrontale, Mimmo Rotella's The Wolf of Sila and The Rebirth of Culture, to name but a few.

MAB Cosenza
Regione Calabria

Mimmo Rotella, born in Catanzaro (1918-2006), is one of the contemporary Calabrian artists who has most influenced the national and international scene. One of the greatest exponents of Nouveau Réalisme and world Pop Art, his works are exhibited in the greatest museums on the planet.

In Calabria, in addition to the works at the MAB, the artist's history and works are being studied and exhibited at the "Mimmo Rotella" House of Memory in Catanzaro.

Among the great exponents of Calabrian contemporary art who have recently passed away, it is worth mentioning the multifaceted and polymathic genius of Nik Spatari (1929-2020).

Although not originally from Calabria, it was here that Spatari found his ideal artistic and living dimension after having travelled and collaborated with the greatest masters of the international avant-garde scene, from Picasso to Max Ernst. Together with his wife Hiske Maas, Spatari founded a place without precedent in Calabria: the MuSABA - Santa Barbara Museum Park.

One of the most evocative places of contemporary art in Calabria, the park-museum is located in the municipality of Mammola (RC) and includes open-air installations, some the result of international artistic residencies, and closed museum spaces, including the so-called "Calabrian Sistine Chapel", or Job's Dream.

Regione Calabria

Contemporary art in Calabria today: artists, works and places

Contemporary art in Calabria today?

There are many places today in which to experience contemporary art in Calabria through artistic residency projects proper, active artist studios and dedicated museums that organise temporary exhibitions or display permanent collections.

Among the names and places not to be missed is a visit to the studio of master Cesare Berlingeri, in Taurianova (RC). The artist "of the fold" understands art as a purely physical act, capable of "folding" the canvas on itself, filling every gap with metaphorical meanings.

A tour of contemporary art museums in Calabria allows you to discover and appreciate the works of Calabria's leading living contemporary artists. The ones not to be missed?

  • BoCs Art Museum in Cosenza
  • MAON - Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Art Museum, Rende (CS)
  • Museo del Presente, Rende (CS)
  • MACA - Museum of Contemporary Art, Acri (CS)
  • MARCA - Catanzaro Museum of the Arts
  • MABOS - Sila Forest Art Museum, Sorbo San Basile (CZ)
  • "Leonida Repaci" House of Culture, Palmi (RC)
  • "P. Crupi" Palace of Culture, Reggio Calabria

Ultimo aggiornamento: Feb 15, 2024 9:16 AM