In a fascinating space designed by the architect Renzo Piano inside the historic industrial complex of the Lingotto in Turin, the Pinacoteca Agnelli permanently houses 25 masterpieces from Giovanni and Marella Agnelli private collection.
Opened on September 20th, 2002, the gallery marks the final step in the twenty-year-long restructuring process of the whole Lingotto site. After this huge conversion process, the 90 years old building maintains the architectural power and freshness of the car factory designed by Giacomo Mattè Trucco, and wends its way effortlessly to the Lingotto designed by Renzo Piano.
The “Scrigno” (treasure chest) – as he calls Renzo Piano who designed it – welcomes 25 extraordinary masterpieces (twenty-three paintings and two sculptures) ranging from the Eighteenth century to the mid-Twentieth century.
Among the works on display you can see a unique collection in Italy of seven paintings by Matisse, a 1913 painting by Balla on car’s speed, and masterpieces by Severini, Modigliani and Tiepolo .
The collection also includes valuable evidence of Venetian art: six extraordinary views of Venice by Antonio Canal, known as Canaletto, and two views of Dresden by Bernardo Bellotto, of such precision that served as models for the reconstruction of the city after the Second War World. Do not miss the works of Picasso, one belonging to the blue period and the other of the Cubist period. There are as well impressionist paintings by Renoir and Manet. Finally, two plaster statues by Antonio Canova, Dancer with finger to chin and Dancer with hands on hips.
Below the “Scrigno”, the Pinacoteca develops on five further floors, where temporary exhibitions take place, as well as a center for art education, a reference library, offices and a bookshop.
“My grandfather had been thinking for some time about doing something for his city, something that would express just how strong his ties are with this place. And this time, he wanted to do it personally. Naturally, he wanted to do something in keeping with his style, something that would last in time and enhance the profile and international prestige of Turin.
My grandfather also had a very clear idea about where the gallery should be located: at the Lingotto, the first big automobile plant built by Fiat. Of all the places in Turin, this is definitely his favorite, full as it is with memories and meaning.I think his passion for art is well known.
It’s a passion that he has cultivated all his life. He has shared it with my grandmother. He has transmitted it to the entire family, first and foremost to my mother, who is a painter. Over the years, this passion has led him to collect important works of art. His collecting activity has always been guided by the aesthetic pleasure that an art work can provoke, whatever its historical period or style. Now he is offering the most important part of this collection for the pleasure of the entire public, through a foundation whose purpose is to promote awareness and love of art, especially amongst young people.
The gallery is also a unique architectural structure.
This is not only because of what it contains, but also because of its truly unique architecture. The design by architect Renzo Piano –
who, it must be said, was responsible for the remodeling of the entire building – fully satisfies the aspirations of my grandfather. This is because the structure housing his collection is bold, almost provocative, although the metal sheeting cladding its exterior is also a tribute to the history of the Lingotto.
The arrangement of spaces inside the gallery, the distribution of works in the various rooms, and their hanging on the walls reflect choices that my grandparents made together. Thus, the exhibition does not merely express their passion for art. It also speaks reams about their idea of beauty and how they observe and enjoy it. This is also a form of communication that, I think, makes a visit more interesting, more profound, and more fascinating.
From the speech by John Elkann during the press conference presenting the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, held in Turin, September 19, 2002.