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Of all the cities in Italy, Naples is one of the best for contemporary art. With top museums and world-class galleries housed in captivating historical buildings and managed by gallerists firmly established in the international art arena, Naples will particularly surprise lovers of Pop Art, Arte Povera, conceptual art, and photography. We profile ten of the best contemporary art spaces in Naples.
The Spanish Quarter is an underprivileged area possessing a distinctive culture. Here, between two narrow streets lined with clothing boutiques is Largo Baracche – a small, unimpressive square which holds a secret. Beneath the ground, a series of tunnels originally built as a shelter during World War II has been transformed into an artist-run space, and has built a reputation of hosting intelligent, provocative exhibitions of contemporary art.
An incredibly talented gallerist with an exceptional taste for contemporary art, Lia Rumma’s career began in the 1970s. Ever since, she has worked with some of the most important international artists out there, actively contributing to making their stars shine brighter. The list includes the likes of performance artists Marina Abramovic and Vanessa Beecroft, photographers Thomas Ruff and Andreas Gursky, and artist Ettore Spalletti, among many others; and she was one of the first to bet on and encourage the talent of Anselm Kiefer, now a worldwide acclaimed painter. In recent years, a branch of Galleria Lia Rumma opened in Milan; but the home gallery in Naples still offers top quality exhibitions – the latest was a solo show of works by internationally renowned artist William Kentridge.
Galleria Lia Rumma, Via Vannella Gaetani 12, Naples, Italy, +39 081 1981 2354
One of the latest additions to Naples’ contemporary art scene, Casamadre is the creation of Eduardo Cicelyn, the former Director of the Madre Museum. Cicelyn is well connected enough in the national and international art arena that last year’s inaugural exhibition could count on works by top Italian artists like Francesco Clemente, Domenico Bianchi, and Michelangelo Pistoletto, alongside international figures such as Jannis Kounellis, Antony Gormley, and Anish Kapoor. The gallery is found in Piazza dei Martiri, one of the most enchanting squares in Naples, in a significant place; in 1969, prominent gallerist Lucio Amelio inaugurated a gallery that made the history of the arts in Naples for many years. Casamadre is open by appointment only.
Casamadre, Piazza dei Martiri 58, Naples, Italy, +39 335 814 95 31
Gallerist Dino Morra opened this exhibition space to create a platform for local up-and-coming artists with promising talent. Founded in 2010, the gallery initially showcased a mixture of art and design pieces, but with time, Morra restricted his curation to the best visual artists he could find in Naples and the surrounding region.
Dino Morra Arte Contemporanea, Vico Belledonne a Chiaia 6, Naples, Italy, +39 392 94 20 783
Naples’s art scene has a special relationship with Pop Art, and particularly with the work of its forefather Andy Warhol. A close friendship with gallerist Lucio Amelio brought Warhol to Naples in the 1980s, and the city inspired several pieces of the legendary artist. The best-known of these is arguably the series Vesuvius, a set of paintings depicting the iconic volcano that overlooks the city colored with bold, unnatural tints, as per Warhol’s signature and celebrated style. Andrea Ingenito Contemporary Art gallery represents a selection of works by Warhol and fellow Pop Artists such as Robert Rauschenberg and Roy Lichtenstein. The gallery’s roster also includes top Italian artists like Alighiero Boetti, Mimmo Paladino, and Mario Schifano.
The contemporary art scene in Naples has traditionally put an emphasis on photography and the Arte Povera movement, neglecting, to some extent, the modern developments of the pictorial arts. The Piero Renna Arte Contemporanea gallery tries to fill this gap. Piero Renna, the architect who inaugurated the gallery, founded his new exhibition space with the support of a more established Italian gallery specialized in pictorial arts: the Forni Gallery in Bologna.
Piero Renna Arte Contemporanea, Via Nuova Pizzofalcone 2, Naples, Italy, +39 081 764 0096