Modern art is often considered visionary, but the term is not always used quite as it should be. In 1949, in the grand northern province of a stillshattered post-war Italy, a group of university students from Gallarate, under the guidance of Silvio Zanella, decided to create the ‘Nazionale Arti Visive Città di Gallarate Prize’. Their stated aim was to create a gallery of modern art comprising the works acquired through the various editions of the Prize itself. What was to become the MA*GA (Gallarate Art Gallery) in 2010 would be founded in 1966 after several editions of the Prize.
For over sixty years and 24 editions, the Prize and the Gallery have focused on the painting, sculpture, design, drawing and etching, computer-assisted art, photography and any other expressive language to explore the most important contemporary artistic expressions. The result? Over 6,000 works in the Gallery’s collection: paintings, sculptures, installations, art books, photographs, design objects and works of graphic art. These works provide a magical path along which visitors tread: weaving among techniques, fads, artistic trends and visual languages from the mid-20th century through to the present, with a nod to contemporary international trends.
The goal is to re-examine the 20th century in a structured manner, ensuring a dialogue between the permanent collection and the most up-to-date innovative artistic trends. This is achieved through temporary exhibitions, events, encounters and workshops, which cultivate a direct link with the artists – something that has been a core pursuit at the gallery since its founding.
The current gallery layout is the consequence of the 2010 inauguration of the 5,000 m2 new complex, bringing together an industrial building from the 1930s (lovingly restored) and a new factory characterised by a spectacular curved stage in brick – creating a round piazza that is easily recognisable.
No-one knows if the dreams of those students who decided to grant modernity and, perhaps, hope to a little provincial town some 60 years ago through the power of art would have gone so far as to encompass the MA*GA as it is today. There are now even innovative spaces dedicated to artists in Terminal 1 at Malpensa Airport. What is certain, though, is that we cannot thank them enough for their visionary capacity, something that has provided us with a gallery that is truly dedicated to modernity.
Valentina Monti / Photo itm.srl x Kemon