The MARCA and the International Park of Sculpture in Catanzaro

An artistic itinerary suspended between the past and the future, setting a rather unique example in the South of Italy

Seven Times di Antony Gormley
Seven Times di Antony Gormley

Works of contemporary art and open-air installations, acknowledged masterpieces and the famous posters by Mimmo Rotella. They are all on display in Catanzaro, where the Marca Museum and the International Park of Sculpture provide a widely acclaimed artistic offer.

Open since 2008, the Museum of the Arts of Catanzaro is a multifunctional centre where a wide range of different artistic instances are given full expression. The museum as can be visited today is the result of the integration of an already existing collection with paintings and sculptures belonging to the Province of Catanzaro and dating back up to the 15th century. Antonello de Saliba, Battistello Caracciolo, Mattia Preti, Andrea Cefaly and Francesco Jerace, are only of the artists whose works can be admired in the rooms of the Marca. The exhibition system offers a stroll through the ages, reaching up to contemporary art, as is proved by the permanent exhibition of works by Mimmo Rotella, the artist from Catanzaro whose décollages nowadays enjoy worldwide fame. There have been many other noteworthy exhibitions over the years, such as the ones dedicated to Alex Katz, Antoni Tàpies, Alessandro Mendini, Enzo Cucchi or, more recently, to Andrea Branzi and  Raimondo Galeano.

An ambitious project, carefully planned up to its slightest details: the facilities offered to visitors for example, including China, the coffee bar realized by Flavio Fanelli in 2008 on the occasion of the inauguration, or the multi-colored bookstore created by Alessandro Mendini. The offer is integrated by educational facilities, creative workshops, guided tours and conferences, aimed at turning the museum into  a lively setting for events of cultural promotion.

Not far from the city centre, the International Park of Sculpture spans 60 hectares, divided into two distinct areas: the Park of Biodiversity and the woods of the Valle dei Mulini – the Mill Valley. The idea of its institution was thought up in 2005, thanks to Intersezioni, a project dedicated to contemporary sculpture and curated by Alberto Fiz,  the artistic director of the Marca. In the past few years, many international artists have been hosted at the nearby Scolacium Park in Roccelletta di Borgia, an extraordinary archaeological site between an expanse of olive groves and the Jonium Sea. They were all asked to design a work of art as their personal contribution to the open-air museum of Catanzaro, whose institution was the result of gradual environmental improvement.

A fruitful idea, which has led to the exhibition of 23 wonderful installations created by internationally acclaimed masters: all of them are now part of the city’s artistic heritage, a rather unique case in the South of Italy.

Inspired by the distinctive atmosphere which pervades Roccelletta di Borgia, where the past, present and future meet in a whirlpool of  different sensations, these works are apt to capture the soul of today’s mankind. The human frailty before time and space seems to be the underlying theme to at least three sculptures: The man who measures the clouds by Jan Fabre, the statue of a man holding a ruler on a stairshaped plinth; Man and dancer  by Sthephan Balkenhol, featuring anonymous characters, placed outside of the flow of history and reality; the seven statues of Seven Times by Antony Gormley, seen as they come up from the underground following one another and turn to face the sea.

Senza titolo (Testimoni) di Mimmo Paladino
Senza titolo (Testimoni) di Mimmo Paladino

The relationship with the past is explored from different perspectives: Changing times (which becomes “Changing temples” if we add an L to the Italian word for times) by Michelangelo Pistoletto, is the artist’s revisiting of classical art, depicting a temple whose façade is made of garbage and polluting materials: Witnesses by Mimmo Paladino is a group presenting four archaic totemic figures. The artistic itinerary is further enriched by Dennis Oppenheim‘s installations of two inhabitable shapes hinting at the ancient pagodas and reminiscent of both Islamic architecture and the wrapped chocolates that are in fashion in America, and by one of Daniel Buren‘s Cabane éclatées (“through-walkable” architectural structures); furthermore, the monumental circle sculpted by Mauro Staccioli, the huge head of Darth Vader, the villain of Star Wars, made by Marc Quinn, and many other showpieces.

Visitors who decide to embark on this itinerary, surrounded by nature and sometimes puzzled by the everlasting impressions produced by the works of avant-garde artists, are guaranteed not to be disappointed.

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