Saturday, July 20, 2013

MAXXI: 21st Century Art In Roma

Rome is not exactly a haven of modern art.  That's clearly true.  But there is some.  The newest and hippest modern art museum is MAXXI (National Museum of 21st Century Arts) in the Flaminio neighborhood of Rome.  The museum opened in 2010.  Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid designed MAXXI, and her design has earned numerous accolades and awards.  I think it is stunning.

The art housed in MAXXI is another story.  I remember coming here in 2011 on my last trip to Rome and loving the look of the museum -- but not being all that jazzed about the art I'd seen.  But I was far less artsy then, si?  I wanted now to give MAXXI another shot.  

Same result.  I was wow'd last Wednesday by MAXXI's architecture and design -- even on a second visit.  But the art was blehhh.  Not exciting enough from a visual standpoint.  Too political.  Some of it was interesting, for sure.  But nowhere near what you'd expect given the cool structure itself.  I still overall recommend MAXXI if you have the time.  Just don't expect to see great art.   (There was one exception, discussed below.)   

The one temporary exhibit that I enjoyed was a multimedia installation by Francesco Vezzoli.  This had fake movie posters, a whole bunch of photos, faux-classic statues, and, most impressively, some very funny videos.  One video in particular was a mock E True Hollywood Story about the artist himself.  It was hilarious -- very much in the style of the zany and witty videos that those MoFo Palo Alto guys (and Craig Martini) used to make back in the day.  In this one, the documentary is about Vezzoli and his obsession with making a film about Marlene Dietrich.  (Hence the name of the video: Marlene Redux: A True Hollywood Story.)  I could only find this 2:55 segment available on-line.  The whole thing is really about 15 minutes.  It is El-Oh-El funny.   

P.S.  Going to Napoli (Naples) tomorrow for a quick 36-hour trip.  Might be off-line for a bit.  I've never been there before, but it's so close I can't resist: just a 1-hour train ride.  I keep hearing divergent views on Napoli.  Some peeps say it is awesome; some say it reeks and there is no reason to ever step foot in the city.  We'll see.  

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