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Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art Celebrates 10th Anniversary

23/12/2007, By

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The Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art - described by Sir Nicholas Serota, Director of Tate, as "one of the finest collections of early 20th century Italian art anywhere in the world" - will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2008 with a diverse programme of exhibitions, the first of which will be 'A Decade of Discovery: Ten Years of the Estorick Collection', on view from 16th January to 6th April 2008.

The Estorick Collection comprises some 120 paintings, drawings, watercolours, prints and sculptures by many of the most prominent Italian artists of the modernist era. It opened to the public on 28th January 1998 in a Georgian Grade II listed building at 39a Canonbury Square, London N1, which had been refurbished with a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The gallery was named Best Museum of Fine or Applied Art in the 1999 National Heritage/NPI Museum of the Year Awards and was a Highly Commended Small Attraction in the 2003 London Tourism Awards. It has a library of over 2,000 books, primarily on 20th century Italian art, as well as a shop and café, making it an unrivalled resource for students of important modernist movements such as Futurism and Pittura Metafisica.

The anniversary is an ideal opportunity to take a fresh look at the richness of the Estorick’s permanent collection in its entirety. For A Decade of Discovery: Ten Years of the Estorick Collection, all six galleries will be re-hung, enabling a group of ten works by Massimo Campigli to be shown for the first time. These include a delicate coloured lithograph entitled Shop Windows (1945), The Painter (1932) – a humorous self portrait of the artist seated beneath a parasol next to his easel – and a series of bold black and white prints inspired by themes from antiquity. Additionally, the display will be enhanced by important works loaned from Italian and British collections, including works by Giacomo Balla, Carlo Carrà, Renato Guttuso, Amedeo Modigliani, Giorgio Morandi, Ottone Rosai, Gino Severini and Mario Sironi.

Since the Estorick Collection opened, a number of acquisitions have been made, most notably an early portrait of the artist Carlo Fontana by Giacomo Balla (1907), which pre-dates his involvement with the Futurists and reveals a masterly handling of the Divisionist technique. Other works include a Self-portrait of 1915 by Corrado Govoni – which uses words to describe the features of the artist verbally as well as visually – and a small but important ink study for the painting Rising Forces by Gerardo Dottori, one of the key figures of the second wave of Futurist activity after World War One. All of these works will be on display in the exhibition.

Eric Estorick (1913-93) was an American sociologist and writer who began to collect works of art when he came to live in England after the Second World War. Born in Brooklyn, Estorick studied at New York University during the early 1930s, when he discovered The Gallery of Living Art, containing masterpieces by Picasso, Léger, Miró and Matisse, which inspired him to become a collector. On a visit to Europe in 1946 he began to buy drawings by such artists as Picasso, Gris, Léger and Braque.

In October 1947 he married Salome Dessau, and during their honeymoon in Switzerland Estorick discovered Umberto Boccioni’s book Futurist Painting and Sculpture (1914) which marked the beginning of his passion for Italian art. They travelled to Italy on many occasions during the late 1940s and 1950s, meeting and befriending major artists of the day, including Massimo Campigli, Mario Sironi and Zoran Music.

The Eric and Salome Estorick Foundation was set up in 1993 to not only manage the permanent collection but also to stage temporary loan exhibitions and educational events. Since opening, the Collection has established a considerable reputation as an important venue for bringing Italian art to the British public and has achieved both public and critical acclaim for its artistic and educational programmes.

To date it has attracted over 150,000 visitors and hosted 36 innovative exhibitions, ranging from those devoted to Italian Futurists such as Giacomo Balla and Gino Severini to important shows addressing the social and political dimensions of artistic activity, including Under Mussolini: Decorative and Propaganda Arts of the Twenties and Thirties. Other major artists highlighted have included Giorgio de Chirico, Giorgio Morandi, Zoran Music, Mario Sironi, Lucio Fontana, Fortunato Depero and Carlo Carrà.

Continuing the Estorick’s commitment to bringing the most significant aspects of Italian culture to London, A Decade of Discovery: Ten Years of the Estorick Collection will be followed by three further stimulating exhibitions in 2008: Paper Trail: Prints from the Merlini Collection (16th April to 15th June), a striking selection of works on paper from this extraordinary and highly personal survey of 20th century Italian printmaking; Daring to be Different: 55 Years of Missoni (25th June to 14th September), celebrating the life and work of the legendary Missoni family, whose colourful designs, characterised by stripes and zig-zag patterns, have become iconic statements of 20th century fashion; and European Photomontage (24th September to 21st December) which, following the success of the 2005 Avant-garde Graphics exhibition, will include a large number of seminal works by such revolutionary artists as Hannah Höch, John Heartfield and Bruno Munari.

To mark the 10th anniversary of this distinctive collection a new catalogue of the permanent collection, including texts by Michael Estorick and Roberta Cremoncini, will be published by Gangemi Editore, and an updated website will be launched. To enable visitors to make the most of A Decade of Discovery: Ten Years of the Estorick Collection, the gallery will be remaining open until 8pm every Thursday for the duration of the exhibition.

16th January to 6th April
Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art
39a Canonbury Square
London N1 2AN
+44 (0)20 7704 9522

Wednesday to Saturday 11 am to 6 pm
Late night opening on Thursdays until 8 pm
Sunday 12 pm to 5 pm
Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Admission: £3.50, Concessions £2.50
Free to under-16s and students on production of a valid NUS card

Image 1 - Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920), Dr François Brabander 1918
Image 2 - Gino Severini (1883-1966), Le Boulevard (The Boulevard), 1910-11
Image 3 - Giacomo Balla (1871-1958), Portrait of a Woman at the Window of Via Paisiello, 1905, Private collection
Image 4 - Renato Guttuso (1911-87), Figura in strada (Figure on a street), 1956, Private collection
Image 5 - Gino Severini (1883-1966), Portrait of Jeanne, 1935, Private collection

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