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Current exhibitions

OVERSIZE. Great masterpieces from the CAMeC collections


The exhibition is a contrasting echo of the 2017/2018 one entitled Small Size. Small masterpieces of the CAMeC collection. While in that project about 200 small works crowded the exhibition area, imposing a close-up view, in this new itinerary just forty or so large-format works interact with one another, offering the viewer a powerful visual impact.

So this anthology has been selected according to size and laid out in an itinerary whereby the chronological criterion is associated with affinities in language, aesthetic approach, theme. The works have been chosen from all the various collections kept in the CAMeC.  

The “historic nucleus”, i.e. the precious collection of paintings purchased during the National Painting Prize named after the Gulf of La Spezia, is amply represented. This exhibition-cum-competition animated La Spezia summers from 1949 to 1965, attracting important, also international-level artists, who in those years were promising newcomers and are today widely historicized and present in museums.

The work Boys looking for crabs, a painting by Renato Guttuso representing maritime labour, has been chosen to open the exhibition. This work won first prize in the first year of the competition, 1949, and is attributable to the Sicilian artist’s interesting pre-realist period. Some of the other great paintings by well-known artists which are present in the CAMeC thanks to the Gulf Prize and are on show here are: a 1952 work from the famous series of Windows by Giuseppe Santomaso, an effective example of the “abstract/concrete” period; a precious digression into painting by the architect Ettore Sottsass Jr., Sea Port from 1952, from his period of adhesion to the tenets of the Concrete Art Movement (MAC), which was very popular with architects; Ways of the World by Emilio Vedova, a very important work from 1953, a singular example of his early adhesion to the Informal trend; The gentle hills of Brisighella by Mattia Moreni, a majestic informal landscape which won first prize in 1954; the 1963 Eyeless by Emilio Scanavino, an impressive example of his particular emotionally-charged abstract approach.

The presence of various international artists is mostly thanks to the “Giorgio and llda Cozzani” group of works. Giorgio Cozzani was an omnivorous, encyclopaedic collector, untiring and constantly on the move, and particularly attracted to contemporary foreign art. He regularly visited the Venice Biennale, Documenta in Kassel, but also the most important galleries of Paris and London. The CAMeC owes some large-format rarities to his fine instinct. These include: Infernalezza (translator’s note: untranslatable, a play of words on Inferno) by Herbert Sturm, 1962-63, quirkily positioned in his house/gallery on the dining-room ceiling (the work will be transferred to Germany in summer 2020 for a retrospective of the artist); Ob-ject (Art as Idea as Idea) by Joseph Kosuth, the inventor of so-called conceptual tautolology, being one of his famous enlargements of the text of a glossary entry; Spring Gauze by Kenneth Noland, one of the most authoritative exponents of Colour Field Painting, a singularly-shaped markedly elongated work from the Plaid series of the 1970s; the 1987 Potatoes by Thomas Schütte, the famous German sculptor, an early two-dimensional work which is in fact part of the series based on this edible tuber and is shown in hugely exaggerated dimensions in order to stimulate viewers’ questions; the 1967 Matches by Raymond Hains is equally imposing, monumental matches fashioned by the French artist from the mid-60s on.

The exhibition also includes some works which won prizes (and were purchased thanks to the prize/purchase formula) in the renewed Gulf Prize, European Visual Arts Biennale (2000-2006), for example Untitled by Cristiano Pintaldi from 2000; at the time the artist was at the beginning of his distinctive simulation of pixels, and in this case he reproposes a character from the early days of TV science fiction, the platinum-blonde Commander Ed Straker from the series UFO.

On display in Room 5 are also three sculptures whose authors ((Anna Dębska and Paolo De Nevi) are not part of the Oversize exhibition. Their presence is due to the educational activity carried out in the rooms of the museum in close conjunction with the exhibitions in progress. In this case, they are representations inspired by the animal world, on which some workshops are based: To each his own house and The place, the landscape and the environment, for Primary and Secondary schools, respectively.  



Exhibition promoted by

City of La Spezia

Mayor and councillor for culture, Pierluigi Peracchini


and produced by

CAMeC Centre of Modern and Contemporary Art

General Manager of Cultural services, Massimiliano Curletto

with the contribution of


Coop Liguria


curated by: Eleonora Acerbi in collaboration with Cristiana Maucci

Press offices
City of La Spezia: Luca Della Torre | ph. +39 0187 727324 |
CSArt – Comunicazione per l’Arte: Chiara Serri | ph. +39 0522 1715142 | mobile +39 348 7025100 ||







October 13, 2019 / September 20, 2020




Claudio Papola

Man of my time

You are still the man of the sling and of the stone, man of my time…wrote Salvatore Quasimodo, pointing out with heartfelt pessimism how violence has always been and still is an exact science wooing slaughter, inherent in human lives.
With his poetry, the poet constructs a deep space and a long echo between the sound and the meaning of his words.
But words too seem to have misrepresented and falsified the true boundaries of the barbarity of our times.
Painters think but do not paint ideas, they paint “things”. Only the way they have painted them and the language employed can generate ideas, activate the critical sense.
In his latest experimentations, Claudio Papola makes geographies and ancient and recent stories topical, “shaping” them in assonance with the poet’s voice.
The artist’s eye “penetrates” archaeologies where a past has taken place and left behind material traces, ruins.
An aerial view of Paris: l’Arc de Triomphe becomes an optical signal and a reminder of both past and present.
Geometrical friezes, metopes, jutting arches are the background for scenes of war.
The low reliefs of the Trajan column amplify the glory of an emperor.
Every power imposes a style. A drawing of history might be made by recording the struggle among different styles.
War machines and instruments of death have substituted the epic of knights and steeds, have substituted weapons and armour-clad bodies. The methods and instruments of conquest have changed, but the aim has remained the same: hunger for power and a violence which is intrinsic to human nature.

Us and the others.

Against the others.

Insisting on knowing just one culture, one’s own, is like living just one life, depriving oneself of the others. The backgrounds the artist proposes satisfy our aesthetic sense, recalling the civilisations which have produced them, of which we western men feel ourselves to be the heirs and participants.
Nostalgia for history, nostalgia for beauty.
We harbour the illusion that civilisations know no “homelands” and can ignore political, religious, cultural, economic frontiers, those separating states, nations, human groups.
The artist intervenes on these “persuasive” scenes, whose quantities of pixels weave and blur the contours, “mimicking” the passing of time, each work adding to the series of threatening, human multitudes, perpetually and fatally at war.
The time represented would seem to suggest an eternal present.
His lines are decisive, sure, with no pauses, as if his hand were unable to detach itself from the support it is acting on. The strength of the lines reflect his strong will to transmit his ideas.
Present, but also antique, suffering is often expressed in a diffuse sky-blue, the symbolic colour for infinity.
Human “figures” materialise. The bodies are silhouettes, sometimes filled-in; they have lost those characteristics which would have made them people; no eyes, no mouths. They are refined automatons, dynamic in the struggle, individualised in their forms even when they “interweave” with one another. They match the backgrounds they are acting in.
It is precisely the interaction among those backgrounds (the nostalgia for their beauty had attracted us) and the violence which animates them which convey drama on the work containing them and on the meaning they suggest. 
Let us take The two faces of Palmira as a typical example.
In 2015, the Syrian town of Palmira, whose beauty had caused Baudelaire to “dream”, was conquered. The extraordinary artistic heritage which caused it to be known as the “Venice of sand” was lost and destroyed. It had been the emblem of liberality, the crucible of different cultures: Arabia, Persia, Syria, Greece, Rome.
Rich in both eastern and western cultures, but always with its own unique identity.
The legendary enlightened queen Zenobia comes to mind.
That beautiful, possible utopia which recognised richness in the diversity of every cultural contribution richness, and fostered an opening up towards a new, better civilisation, towards an existential wellbeing, was wiped out.
Global uniformity seems to be the final project.
In Claudio Papola’s work the mourning for the destiny of the town of Palmira takes lyrical flight. The fighting becomes marginal, an end in itself; it does not kill the beauty. Two faces in profile, each the memory of the other, restore this beauty to us intact.
In another work, entitled Distances of time, the artist autographs himself via a ‘90s painting which partly conceals the image of a bust and a Latin epigraph. Papola’s receptive sensitivity had already captured and meditated on events, human relationships, ethics and individual choice, well beyond the awareness of his personal existence. He had gone through a period when he had felt obliged to express intensive visions about the meaning of life. He had travelled, above all by sea. Testing himself against the sea, the metaphor of the absolute, facing up to his finiteness.
Seeking new landfalls.
Actually all of his paintings “take shape” from the need to deal with the ferments and emergencies of the age in which he has lived and lives.
Forms are concrete, Rudolf Arnheim has written.
The guidelines have been the need for freedom and the sense of justice.
The “germs” generating his present research began to show themselves many years ago; the barbaric events of our times, so dense in negativity, have caused them to explode.
The artist has deliberately renounced the sensual pleasure of the brush-stroke and the application of colour, in favour of the search for light.
He has created an aseptic language which can “contain” emotions, which can document the existential malaise of our uncertain times, in which men have lost the habit of communication. His are only photographic images taken from the media, only lines alluding to the inhumanity of the fight for power, subjugation, dominion.
The photos simultaneously combine evidence of reality and the prestige of art. The lines instead are the fruit of the artist’s mastery. Together, composed in the work, they induce us to reflect on dramatic truths. Art might perhaps be an efficacious guide and tool for visualising and “understanding” evil, for shaking us out of a kind of emotional and cognitive anaesthesia. (Giovanna Riu)

Claudio Papola was born in L'Aquila in 1937, in 1953 he moved to Milan. He lives and works in Milan and La Spezia where he has his studios. For further information about his artistic biography, the video Traces of the journey is available on show.


Exhibition promoted by 
City of La Spezia
Mayor and councillor for culture, Pierluigi Peracchini

and produced by
CAMeC Centre of Modern and Contemporary Art
General Manager of Cultural services, Massimiliano Curletto

with the contribution of
Coop Liguria

curated by
Giovanna Riu




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June 29 / November 17, 2019
(The Centre will be closed for maintenance works from September 23rd to October 11th 2019)



AIR. 2009 - 2019 dieci anni di Factory


A group of artists, a community which grew up spontaneously around the figure of Giuliano Tomaino. The Factory, each member with their own decades-long artistic career and their own language, a team of transgenerational authors, a rare case of an art “commune” on La Spezia territory, is difficult to pin down and define.

The challenge of this exhibition has lain in maintaining their own identities but at the same time identifying a common theme; it has been easily won with the creation of a single large setting, a kind of wunderkammer which the spectator is invited to walk through.

But what is the element which was able to group them all together? The underlying concept of the project is air, immanent and transcendent at the same time, transparent and impalpable but concrete and sensory like a breath of wind on one’s face. Air which cannot be contained, but which knows the finiteness of the confines of a room. Light, multiform, suspended works, “wonders” of contemporary human artifice.
So what would a contemporary wunderkammer be like? The artists have imagined it as a funfair, a space for detaching oneself from everyday chores and for transferring one’s thoughts (and art) onto a higher, “different” plane.

Cristina Balsotti presents Chichi2019, a ‘Pincopanco’ which evokes dreams, playing, the precarious balance and undulating dynamics of existence. It is a small funfair carousel, swing, see-saw, but also a boat to rock oneself in. The great funfair of life.

Paolo Fiorellini has created Corallo, at once a rosary, a komboloi and a tasbih, a symbolic work with a strong ecumenical meaning. Its spheres embrace the spectator and express the wish for union between the two shores of the Mediterranean. The great funfair of contemporary society.

Claudia Guastini with Bolle makes the air play with her coloured paper balls, in a continuous movement created by the wind. The artist works with paper, cloth, light materials which come to life at the first puff of air. The great funfair of play.

Sandro del Pistoia attempts to decode the existential and social role of the artist using a large luminous sign: You Are Perfect As You Are. Art is understood here as the last institutionalised stronghold of freedom. The great funfair of the art system.

Stefano Lanzardo with Sideshow takes us into the atmosphere of the USA provincial fairs of the 1940s. His “attraction” does not stage anything marvelous or monstrous, rather the author’s development of the theme of deciphering the body. The great funfair of mystery.

Francesco Ricci presents Mama, a pendulum whose swinging movement peremptorily marks the passage of time, as well as the neglect and destruction that mankind has perpetrated on the earth. If we examine it carefully, the pendulum is a map of the world, our planet crying out for help. The great funfair of nature.

Finally Giuliano Tomaino closes the show with his hitherto unseen work Io Leonardo, a neon dedicated to the great artist Da Vinci on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of his death. The great funfair of genius.

Lightness as a new antidote to superficiality.


Exhibition promoted by 
Municipality of La Spezia
Mayor and councillor for culture, Pierluigi Peracchini

and produced by
CAMeC Centre of Modern and Contemporary Art
General Manager of Cultural Services, Massimiliano Curletto

institutional sponsors
Enel, Coop Liguria

curated by
Cinzia Compalati

Press office
City of La Spezia:
Luca Della Torre | Tel. +39 0187 727324 |
CsArt - Comunicazione per l'arte:
Chiara Serri  | +39 0522 1715142 | mobile +39 348 7025100  | |



October 13, 2019 / January 20, 2020


Cabinet of Curiosities


The Wunderkammer or Cabinet of Curiosities is a typical 16th -century phenomenon. It was the result of a collecting approach favoured by the aristocracy, and might be considered as the first stage in the development of the museum concept. The aim was to collect and display mirabilia, uniting art/science and nature, the two poles of ancient knowledge and creating a journey into the dimension of the extraordinary through naturalia and artificialia.

Nature is the main fulcrum of every cabinet of curiosities, which offers samples of the strangest things, each item presenting some exceptional feature of shape, size or rarity. The (lion’s) skull is a must, an evocative memento mori which interacts with stuffed animal bodies, representing respectively the transience of nature and mankind’s ambition for eternal life; and coral, reproduced here with sealing wax, which in the age when the boundaries between science and legend were sometimes blurred was considered both animal vegetable and mineral, embodying perfection and hence endowed with a thaumaturgic value.

The very divisions of the room, underlined by the colours of the walls and by some works in the collections, allude to two of the four elements, earth and water, in homage to the celebrated Tribune of Francesco I de’Medici.

Artificialia are artefacts considered special for their orginality and uniqueness, objects sometimes used as simple reproductions of the live animal or which express the Mannerist taste for grafting human elements onto natural objects. The works of the collections fulfil these requirements, together with ancient sculptures punctuating the display: the lions’ paws in Imperial age marble; the wave carved out of wood; the metal bird in contrast to the exotic ones; the site-specific intervention of Nicola Perucca “around” a whale rib.

Finally, the objects presented invite viewers to reflect on extremely topical themes: the richness and fragility of the environment surrounding us and the relationship between nature and human beings; a relationship which is today difficult and fraught and which through the mediation of art may, as in this case, turn out to be virtuous.




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Works from the CAMeC collections

The CAMeC has prepared a renewed selection of the permanent collections this time related to the educational activities and for the general public wishing to get to know them better.

The various groups of works have been specifically targeted at providing creative, cognitive and ludic stimuli for young users and they also aim to offer the public at large a number of varied explorations of different thematic and linguistic environments. 

Following the groups of works, located in different areas of the museum.

Still life. Food in art
This is a small digression into one of the most explored territories of figurative art (particularly from the 17th century onwards but actually beginning with antiquity). Still life in contemporary art is interpreted in many, discordant ways, tending to reflect the individual artist’s particular field of interest. This small anthology ranges from virtuous verisimilitude to pop debunking, passing through the various other interpretations of great 20th-century artists.
Artists: Felice Carena, Bruno Cassinari, Filippo de Pisis, Giovanna Guerri, Giuseppe Martinelli, Francesco Musante, Giuseppe Rivieri, Concetto Pozzati, Marco Rindori, Rilk Slabbink, Daniel Spoerri, Andy Warhol.

Small size. Small masterpieces from the CAMeC collections
Smallness is a particularly interesting terrain for artists, who condense or develop their idea or intention in a small space, seeing this as a point of departure or arrival in the creative process. It is a kind of try-out, a favourite testing-ground for many artists who experiment with the most varied modes in their search for efficacy of composition and balance of the material. It is often a distinctive trait of a collection: my collection of small pictures? An obsession, a beautiful mania. I walk round the house and feel that I am living in a museum which is wholly my own (Cesare Zavattini, 1963).
Artists: Arman, Jean Dubuffet, Keith Haring, Zoltán Kemény, Gianluca Lerici (prof. Bad Trip), Robert Mangold, Diet Sayler.

The landscape, the town, the house
This selection of works concentrates on a highly topical subject, the environment and its relationship with human beings. It brings together various representations and interpretations of the rural and urban landscape, also including the vision of the house and the domestic space.
Artists: Manlio Argenti, Bernd e Hilla Becher, Alberto Burri, Emmanuele Coltellacci, Gilbert & George, Jonathan Guaitamacchi, Pompilio Mandelli, Luca Matti, Carlo Montarsolo, Gordon Matta Clark, Mattia Moreni, Dennis Oppenheim, Maria Tacchini, George Tatge, Edwin Zwakman.

“Fairy-tale art”
In this case, the collection of paintings is closely linked to the contents of the lab entitled Fairy-tale art. Interaction with a work of art can be surprising, magical and exciting. Children, and not only children, will find stimuli for their imagination and fantasy. Surreal landscapes, dreamlike visions, characters and fairy-tale creatures during the workshop will stimulate participants to create their own personal illustrated fairy tale.
Artists: Mirko Baricchi, Claudio Cargiolli, Salvatore Fiume, Graziano Guiso, Francesco Musante, Nicola Perucca, Antonio Possenti.


Sign, colour, shape
Geometrical abstraction
Lyrical/informal abstraction
This collection encourages visitors to become more familiar with abstract painting, proposing itself as a guide to its interpretation and as an exemplary compendium divided into some of its most fundamental linguistic variations. The works collected here offer themselves as authoritative documents for understanding elements of style (the mark, the gesture, the new use of colour, the attention to and invention of shape, the reformulation of the artistic vocabulary), and are also direct reference points for the scheduled laboratory activity.   
Artists: Ferdinando Acerbi, Giuseppe Ajmone, Karel Appel, Claude Bellegarde, Max Bill, Enzo Brunori, Margherita Carena, Marco Casentini, Roberto Crippa, Piero Dorazio, Jean Fautrier, A. R. Penck, Romano Rizzato, Filippo Scroppo, Francisco Sobrino.


The groups of works can change due to set-up requirements..