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A concise yet profound dialogue, unfolding along an exceptional exhibition path that gives life to two important collections: those of Alberto Della Ragione (1892-1973) and Giuseppe Iannaccone (1955), united by an intense passion for 20th-century Italian art, and specifically the period bridging the two wars.

This is the idea behind the exhibition “Vissi d’arte. One hundred masterpieces from the Della Ragione and Iannaccone collections“, hosted by the Museum of the City of Livorno from 30th October 2020 to 31st January 2021, a project conceived by Sergio Risaliti, Director of the Museo Novecento in Florence, and curated by Eva Francioli, Elena Pontiggia, and Sergio Risaliti.

On display are the works of great Maestros such as Giorgio Morandi, Carlo Carrà, Renato Guttuso, Emilio Vedova, Renato Birolli, Mario Mafai, Scipione and Filippo De Pisis, and even Felice Casorati, Aligi Sassu, Ottone Rosai, Carlo Levi and Fausto Pirandello. All works of the highest pictorial quality exhibited in a dialectical path with a strong visual impact.

The title of the exhibition, “Vissi d’Arte”, which translates as “I lived for my art”, emphasises the great passion that unites the two collectors, driven to dedicate an entire life searching for and possessing certain pieces that were caught in the crosshairs of their overwhelming desire for beauty. Alberto Della Ragione’s collection was the result of a generous donation given in the aftermath of the historic flood in Florence, its heritage of beauty wounded by the fury of the Arno waters, which in November 1966 submerged houses, churches, and palaces. The Alberto Della Ragione Collection, consisting of 240 works entrusted to the care of the city with a contract that was signed in 1970, is preserved and exhibited at the Museo del Novecento.

The Giuseppe Iannaccone Collection is today the most prestigious private collection on Italian lyrical expressionism in the inter-war years. The works he has wisely amassed reveal an extraordinary ability to make an inspired choice, guided by a profound conceptual coherence and rare critical intelligence, which has steered the lawyer towards paintings characterised by an original romantic and expressionistic warmth, like that of the artists of Corrente and of the Roman School. As Elena Pontiggia, who has been following the collection for more than twenty years, points out, the lawyer’s collection is the ultimate self-portrait.

And this is the reason for the extreme coherence of the collection. Others may seek the grandmasters such as de Chirico or Sironi, but Giuseppe does not see himself reflected in these. He does not feel that they are his and he does not love them, even if rationally and culturally he fully understands their value.

“When I started my collection in the early nineties – says Giuseppe Iannaccone – my all-encompassing passion for these works was inextricably linked to my love for studying art history and, of course, for collecting. I knew of and had studied the Della Ragione Collection and the figure of the engineer, whose sensitivity I found immediately and singularly close to mine.

I felt an affinity with Della Ragione and with his choices, he somehow resembled me, much more than Jesi and Jucker, for example, because he was, in my opinion, a very emotive collector, bound by passionate ties to the artists he admired. Obviously, in the early years, I didn’t think I would ever be able to put together a collection worthy of comparison with Della Ragione’s. I simply admired him, as a collector and as a man.

When my collection took on its current physiognomy, achieved with great effort, the study of and research into the individual works, Elena Pontiggia, who I’ve always been close to, wrote a piece for my book, calling me the new Della Ragione. Having never confided in Elena about my emotional bond with Della Ragione, her comparison struck a chord with me.”

The two collections are parallel and complementary, albeit the result of purchases and choices made in different historical periods by two tireless collectors, who have in common certainly a boundless faith in Italian art, but also a shared background. Both are natives of Campania and professionally established in northern Italy: Genoa, Liguria for the engineer Della Ragione, and, Milan, Lombardy for the lawyer Iannaccone.

Teaching aids will be available at the Livorno exhibition, which will allow visitors not only to understand the reasons behind the passion of the two collectors but also to learn about the life and works of the major artists and movements that were established in Italy in the inter-war years.

Vissi d’Arte

Forma Edizioni Catalogue

Museum of the City of Livorno

From 30th October 2020 to 31st January 2021, every day except Monday

Edit by Claudia Chiari

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