Contemporary Art


The Roman contemporary art scene is peculiarly diverse, a concoction of old and new where the borderline is brittle and controversial.

At a first glance and from an artistic perspective, Rome is the city of the Capitoline Museums and Villa Borghese where your attention is monopolized by the "once upon a time" of the great Renaissance figures. These Roman art stars imposingly became the taboos that draw us to Rome and partly overshadow a contemporary reading of the city. The paradox appears when glimpsing over a piece of abstract, geometric but puzzling art piece by Sol LeWitt on the wall of a Roman art lover or in the Valentina Bonomo Art Gallery and wonder how this fits in with the Roman Forum next-door. The answer is that Rome is an artistic hybrid, one of the most successful in the world, where the eternal love for Michelangelo coexists with the passion for contemporary artists - like Sol LeWitt that is one of the most popular and fashionable artists today among the Roman art lovers and collectors. Once discovering this aspect, Rome becomes a veritable mirage of artistic forms, a city with an innovative mindset where the Vatican and Jenny Saville's transgender paintings coexist in the year of 2005.

Apart from being an art city in itself, where you can find a gallery at every street corner, Rome has four major modern/contemporary art museums.

The place where one would start a modern art odyssey, with the goal of reaching the contemporary, would be GNAM - Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea. This serene museum, ideal for lovers of calm modern art, following an art history curriculum, gives you an overview of international XIX and XX century art. It is the place to indulge into two-dimensional art preceding our tormented age, ranging from Canova and the Barbizon School, to Gustav Klimt and the American abstract expressionists like Pollock, Twombly and Calder along with their Italian analogues, Burri, Fontana and Novelli. As for contemporary art, the museum offers glimpses in temporary exhibitions or in the Quadriennale (hosted in 2005).

The next center for art that takes one art historical step forward is the MAXXI - Museum of Art of the XXI Century. This large urban site in the Flaminia district, close to Renzo Piano's modern Auditorium-Parco della Musica, is cordially proclaiming itself the first Italian Centre for Contemporary Art.

It is governed by the Direzione Generale per l'Architettura e l'Arte Contemporanee (DARC), an agency instituted by the ministry of culture in 2001 to promote contemporary Italian art and architecture. In 1997-8 the decision was taken to expand the museum space to comprise spaces for permanent, temporary and commercial galleries, an architecture centre, a conference centre as well as a library. The project was won by the world famous architect, Zaha Hadid and the concept for the project is based on the idea of irrigating the large urban field with linear display surfaces, weaving a dense texture of interior and exterior space. These concepts are not visible yet but MAXXI does indulge you into bi-artist exhibitions where an Italian artist is always paired up with an international one in order to create a more international, global overview of contemporary art. The Kabakov's and Stefano Arienti, Eva Marisaldi and Michael Raedecker or Gilbert and George are some of the examples of the pairs featured at the MAXXI.


Once a large industrial complex built at the beginning of the 20th century, MACRO's main site is now a dynamic centre of cultural activity.
The first phase of conversion was completed in September of 1999 and saw the opening of six large exhibition halls, a media library, library, conference hall, art studio, bookstore and cafe'.
The site is also home to MACRO's permanent collection and administrative offices.
Open to the public all year and six days a week, MACRO's main site is a point of reference for Rome's contemporary art community.


Where:    MACRO - Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Roma
Address: Via Reggio Emilia, 54
Phone:    06 67 10 70 40 0
Tue-sat h9-19; sun h9-14

Tickets: 1 Euro