An Italian Artwork Haven Alongside the Hudson


On a breezy Saturday final month, Vittorio Calabrese, the director of the Magazzino Italian Artwork museum in Chilly Spring, N.Y., stood onstage within the courtyard to introduce the final occasion of the summer time, a live performance by the musician Sam Reider and his band the Human Palms.

The solar was beginning to set, and some stragglers of the sold-out crowd discovered their seats. Many of the concertgoers have been dressed casually in denim jackets and oversize oxford shirts. However Mr. Calabrese, a local of Irpinia, Italy, wore a blue swimsuit, loafers and, for a contact of sprezzatura, the Italian idea of nonchalant model, striped socks with a number of inches seen. Mr. Reider, he mentioned, was going to play a music impressed by Ennio Morricone within the custom of the American homicide ballad.

It wasn’t precisely “Volare,” however that has by no means been the purpose of the muse. “The largest problem is to keep away from stereotypes of Italy,” Mr. Calabrese mentioned. “Folks suppose they’ll discover Renaissance or Baroque or historic artwork, however we aren’t — and Italy is just not — what the typical American would suppose it’s. Most of this artwork was unknown on this nation.”

The muse, which is about an hour’s drive north of Manhattan, is devoted to Italian artwork of the postwar interval, starting with the Arte Povera motion that started in Turin within the 1960s and persevering with with up to date artists.

“We don’t have work, and we don’t have figuration,” mentioned Mr. Calabrese, who lives in Beacon, N.Y., and the Fort Greene part of Brooklyn.

As a substitute, guests will discover “Altri Venti-Ostro,” by Bruna Esposito, a chunk about air-con and metropolis dwelling within the type of an out of doors gazebo manufactured from bamboo canes and hemp rope and boat propellers. Giulio Paolini’s “Il cielo e dintorni” consists of 18 white flags printed with depictions of the sky, as imagined by artists working from the Renaissance to immediately, together with Yves Klein, J.M.W. Turner and Raphael. There’s a large glass thumbnail by Giuseppe Penone.

Magazzino was conceived and based by Giorgio Spanu, an investor who grew up in Sardinia, and Nancy Olnick, who comes from a real-estate creating household in Manhattan.

“On our third date he invited me to his home for dinner,” Ms. Olnick mentioned. “I convey this wine, and he goes, ‘The place’d you discover this wine?’” She wore almost similar tiny spherical glasses as her husband, and as she spoke, he pulled out “La Muséologie Selon Georges Henri Rivière,” a e-book by a French museologist. “And he proceeded to organize this meal that was beautiful — the wine, the meal and the dialogue,” Ms. Olnick mentioned.

Collectively they collected sufficient Italian artwork to fill a non-public museum. Magazzino opened in June 2017 with a present of Margherita Stein’s contributions to Arte Povera. In the course of the pandemic, their at-home programming included a streamed dialogue “BLAQ•IT: Representing Blackness in Italy” with the scholar Fred Kuwornu.

Earlier than the live performance there was aperitivo hour, as one does in Italy. “We’re discovering methods to interact with artists past visible arts,” mentioned Mr. Spanu, as he surveyed the unfold of tomato jam and flatbread and goat cheese tarts and tall glasses of varied spritzes.

The primary clue that Magazzino, which implies warehouse in Italian, is just not a spot the place guests will discover Da Vincis could be the constructing itself: a 20,000-square-foot concrete Brutalist house designed by the Spanish architect Miguel Quismondo with eight galleries, a courtyard for live shows and film screenings, and a analysis middle.

It is usually residence to 16 miniature Sardinian donkeys that function a sort of mascot, most with Italian names that start with “D” for donkey: Dino, Donatella. Mr. Calabrese famous that the donkeys are the easiest way to get kids on a museum go to to behave. The donkeys get pleasure from an exalted existence, nuzzling with one another, getting cooed at by guests and consuming hay from a sculpture by Namsal Siedlecki referred to as “Trevis Maponos,” solid from cash tossed into the Trevi Fountain in Rome.

Nonetheless, Mr. Calabrese needed Magazzino to be seen as extra than simply putting structure and pleasant donkeys. “Our huge problem,” he mentioned, “is altering the picture of Italy.”

Because the band performed trendy people songs, accompanied by saxophones and accordions, the setting solar bounced sharp angles on the concrete partitions. Ms. Olnick, Mr. Spanu and Mr. Calabrese sat within the entrance row, rapt.

Despite the fact that the muse has been open for 4 years (minus a pandemic lockdown), it appears as if its popularity as an elegant day journey from town (it provides a free shuttle from the Chilly Spring practice station) was simply beginning to coalesce.

Quickly they’ll break floor on a brand new pavilion with room for one more gallery and a restaurant. Magazzino is surrounded by orchards with lemons and apples and a mixture of Mediterranean and native flora.

“Folks request to get married right here as soon as each week,” Mr. Calabrese mentioned.

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