curated by Ludovico Pratesi
Museo Nazionale Romano in Palazzo Altemps
From April 6th to May 15th, 2016
Opening: Tuesday, April 5th 2016, at 6pm
Rome, March 2016 – The Museo Nazionale Romano (National Roman Museum) in Palazzo Altemps presents the exhibition Matthew Monahan curated by Ludovico Pratesi, running from Wednesday, April 6th to Sunday, May 15th.
The exhibition presents a new body of work, consisting of eight important sculptures, by Californian sculptor Matthew Monahan (1972, Eureka, CA, USA) presented in the exceptional context of the Renaissance building Palazzo Altemps and its permanent collection. Planned specially for this spectacular installation, Monahan’s sculptures offer an unexpected point of view on classicism, questioning its ideals, icons and myths. The result is both a dialogue and a comparison between classical and contemporary, creating a new vision of the past, the present and an imagined future.
Monahan’s theme is developed around the idea of sculpture as a ruin, within which the materials, the archaeological grandeur and the memories of the classical era become transitory, like awe-inspiring debris precariously perched on the flow of time. The artist draws from a vast pool of images ranging from classical to science fiction, and combines seemingly unrelated yet iconic elements in a disorienting, but inspiring manner.
“I felt like I had to focus my ambitions on the concept of ‘figure’, so that it could become a vessel for all things transcendental and profane. The hand-built body is in fact made of two different, closed shapes: it’s a perverse doubling of the artist’s body itself, trying to grow and change within different cultures and genres,” said the artist.
Monahan’s bronze sculptures resonate with Palazzo Altemps’ architectural structure and its archaeological collection, filling what the artist perceived as empty spaces during his visits to the Museum. Each work was conceived and made in close relation to the spaces and the existing works in the rooms where it is shown, with the intention of suggesting new interpretations that could complement and blend with the variety of exhibits in the museum’s collection.
Matthew Monahan’s solo exhibition begins in the courtyard of the historic Palazzo and continues in the monumental rooms on the first floor: the contemporary reinterpretations of masks, warriors and pagan deities will be complemented by a series of framed drawings recalling the format used by the museum for its captions.
Matthew Monahan’s exhibition brings the museum’s traditional audience into closer contact with contemporary art. Likewise, the curator Ludovico Pratesi has organized two public lectures on the relationship between classical and contemporary art. A number of artists and art historians have been invited to participate, and a final programme will be released closer to the date.
The Matthew Monahan exhibition was organized by Massimo De Carlo, Milan/London/Hong Kong.
Media professionals are invited to attend a press preview that will take place on April 5th, from 11.30am to 1.30pm. The artist Matthew Monahan and curator Ludovico Pratesi will be present.
On Wednesday, April 13th from 7.00pm to 9.00pm, the first public lecture programmed for the exhibition will take place: titled Punti di vista: archeologia e arte contemporanea (Points of view: Archaeology and Contemporary Art), artist Alfredo Pirri and art historian Cristiana Perrella, chaired by Ludovico Pratesi, will discuss these significant topics in the Sala del Galata at Palazzo Altemps (admission free).
A second public lecture, still to be defined, will take place during the second week of May.
The organizers would particularly like to thank the Superintendent Architect Francesco Prosperetti and the Museum’s director, Alessandra Capodiferro, for their help in making the project possible (for the Museum, exhibition coordination was performed by Daniele Fortuna).
Matthew Monahan was born in Eureka (California) in 1972; he lives and works in Los Angeles. He has taken part in many shows including the Los Angeles Project, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2014); Matthew Monahan, Vancouver Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2012); Matthew Monahan, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati (2011); Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art, Barbican Centre, London (2008); and Focus: Matthew Monahan, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2007). Matthew Monahan took part in the 55th edition of the Venice Biennale, the Gwangiu Biennial in 2008, and the Whitney Biennial in 2006.
Museo Nazionale Romano in Palazzo Altemps
The Palazzo owes its name to Tyrolese cardinal Marco Sittico Altemps, who purchased it in 1568 as his Roman home.
The building houses a huge collection of antiques and a significant number of Ancient Egyptian pieces. In the halls, where the original fresco decorations are still partly visible, there are Ancient Greek and Roman sculptures which, in the 16th and 17th centuries, belonged to different Roman noble families.
For the most part, the works are from the Boncompagni Ludovisi collection, with others from the Mattei and Del Drago collection. Some artworks belong to the Altemps family. The pieces are presented with the taste for ostentation that was so typical of those days, and they were restored in the 16th and 17th centuries with additions from the leading sculptors of the time such as Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Alessandro Algardi and Ippolito Buzio. The Egyptian collection is one of the most significant examples of the popularity of Ancient Egyptian iconography in Rome. The works on display also include pieces from the Brancaccio and Jandolo collections, ancient sculptures and ceramics obtained through donations or purchased from private collections, and the Pallavicini Rospigliosi frescoes.
A complete tour of the Palazzo takes visitors to two floors, set around a courtyard with a monumental fountain; the building itself still retains part of the original frescoes and decorations, which can be seen in the painted loggia and in the church dedicated to Pope Saint Aniceto. On top of the Palazzo, a panoramic turret bears the crest of the Altemps family: a prancing steinbock.
In 1982 the State, through the Ministry of Cultural and Environmental Heritage, bought the building, and Rome’s Soprintendenza Archeologica (Archaeological Supervisory Authority) restored it to house the Museo Nazionale Romano’s History of Collecting section. The last wing of the Palazzo was purchased in 2008; part of Evan Gorga’s eclectic archaeological collection is displayed in its rooms. Early 20th century collectors, who bought works on the antique market and from the pieces discovered in the great excavations of the time, can be compared to the Renaissance families of the 16th and 17th centuries, as revealed by the Palace’s prestigious collections.
Curated by Ludovico Pratesi
From Wednesday, April 6th to Sunday, May 15th
Opening: Tuesday, April 5th 2016, 6pm
Organization: Massimo De Carlo, Milan/London/Hong Kong
Museo Nazionale Romano – Palazzo Altemps
Piazza di Sant'Apollinare, 46, Roma
06 39967700 (Mon. to Sat. from 9.00am to 1.30pm and from 2.30pm to 5.00pm)
Open every day from 9.00am to 7.45pm
Ticket office closes at 7.00pm
A unified ticket for the Museo Nazionale Romano, which can be used in four locations: Palazzo Altemps, Palazzo Massimo, Crypta Balbi and the Baths of Diocletian.
Full price €7.00.
Reduced price €3.50.
Reduced price tickets are for citizens of the European Union between 18 and 24 years of age, and teachers of primary and secondary schools in the European Union.
Free admission for visitors under the age of 18.