War and Peace—the Parable of the XX Century

La Galleria Nazionale

Convergences and divergences from the Bucarelli and Brandi-Rubiu Collections

The great conservation-restoration theory critic Cesare Brandi, and the distinguished Director of the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Palma Bucarelli, both began working in fine arts in the mid-1930s. The two maintained a good professional relationship for the entirety of their respective—and prestigious—careers. Both private collections were formally donated to the Galleria Nazionale just three years apart, by Bucarelli in 1998 and Vittorio Rubiu (Brandi's adoptive son and an art critic in his own right) in 2001.

The two private collections are closely connected by their artistic and professional associations and preferences. They also represent two cross-sections, simultaneously parallel and divergent, of the transition from the 1930s and 40s of the Second World War, to the cultural, economic, and social renaissance of the 1950s and 60s in Italy.

Between them, they document the stifled scope of a small-scale collection, frenzied and almost withdrawn into itself. It is highly introspective and, at times, disoriented, fluctuating between Giorgio Morandi's solitude and the expressionism of the Scuola Romana. It then transitions, first, into a brand new, vaguely neo-cubist art form, and then into an abstract and informal one that was widespread in the country and in Rome from the 1950s.

From its inception, Palma Bucarelli's collection was characterized by a decisive focus on international art. Cesare Brandi's, meanwhile, began with the abstract work of Alberto Burri and Afro Basadella, to whom the critic dedicated important monographs. From the 1960s, it evolved into a harmonious balance between Brandi's interests and the preferences of his adoptive son, Vittorio Rubiu. Vittorio introduced him to the Scuola di Piazza del Popolo artists (Franco Angeli, Mario Schifano, Cesare Tacchi, Renato Mambor, Mario Ceroli, and more), Pino Pascali and his fleeting yet glittering career, and even more contemporary figures such as Luigi Ontani and Enzo Cucchi. The game, here, lies in trying to establish a kind of parallel between the convergences and divergences of the two collections.

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