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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs exhibits works by Burri and Sironi

by Antonello Cherchi

The Farnesina, the headquarters of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is opening its doors to art aficionados. Beginning in January, the collection of approximately 400 contemporary art works housed in the rooms of this building constructed in the 1930s in a typically fascist architectural style, will be accessible to visitors, upon reservation, every last Friday of the month.

A fixed opening schedule, therefore, compared to the sporadic and impromptu openings that have occurred up to now. This change of pace was made possible by the decision by the Farnesina to take part at the program launched by the Italian Touring Club’s and named “Open for you.”

The initiative was presented on November 27 at the Ministry by Paolo Gentiloni, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, at an event during which a new work was handed over to the Farnesina: “Love Difference” by Michelangelo Pistoletto, a table in the form of the Mediterranean sea around which there are seats originating from different countries bordering on this sea.

The Pistoletto work is not the only one to create a bridge between culture and diplomacy. The entire collection - created in 2001 on the initiative of the then-Secretary General of the Ministry, Umberto Vattani, indeed has a promotional value for Italy. So much so that the works are exhibited at our embassies and Italian cultural institutes abroad. The collection, formed through the loan for use formula and selected by a scientific committee, represents an important Italian art exhibition of the twentieth century.

Located on the main floor of the Ministry, for example, are works by Mario Sironi, Alberto Burri, the artists of the Gruppo Forma and Jannis Kounellis. On the second floor, a selection of art movements active in the 1980s and 1990s, with installations by Ubaldo Bartolini, Bruno Ceccobelli, Giosetta Fioroni, Omar Galliani, Alberto Garutti, Felice Levini and Grazia Varisco. Lastly, on the fourth floor one can visit the exhibition dedicated to the Farnesina construction site - the building was designed in the 1930s by architects Enrico Del Debbio, Arnaldo Foschini and Vittorio Ballio Morpurgo and before becoming the headquarters of the Ministry was decorated by various masters - and the exhibition entitled “Sistema” dedicated to a selection of works of the last twenty years with a particular attention to the younger artists.