Arte Italiano in the Hudson Valley

The beauty of the Mediterranean has made its way to the Hudson Valley.

More specifically, it landed in a warehouse in Cold Spring.

Don’t get lost in translation. Magazzino, which means warehouse in Italian, is the new art space dedicated to postwar and contemporary Italian art. Since opening its doors to the public on June 28, the venue has attracted both local and international interest.

“We received extended coverage in Italy, like in La Repubblica, Living, Elle Decor, La Nazione, Il Sole 24 Ore, Il Giornale dell’Arte, and many others,” says Selika Cerofolini, director of communications at Magazzino.

Italy on the Hudson

The concept for the space has been a long time in the making. It began to crystallize more than ten years ago when art advocates Giorgio Spanu and Nancy Olnick contemplated sharing their private collection with the community. As longtime residents of the region – they have called Garrison home for over 25 years – the couple chose to house their passion for Italian art within the Hudson Valley’s picturesque landscape.

The physical space is an amalgam of modern architecture and longstanding framework. What was originally a farmers’ warehouse, followed by a dairy distribution center and a computer factory, has been transformed into the artistic mecca that it is today, thanks to Spanish architect Miguel Quismondo. Through his master planning, the old building doubled in square footage to become a rectangular edifice with an open central courtyard. The simultaneous contrast and harmony between old and new in the architectural design connects back to the theme of the art living inside Magazzino.

Arte Povera

The collection comprises works that are truly one-of-a-kind. Olnick and Spanu share a passion for Italy’s Arte Povera movement of the post-war and contemporary period. Arte Povera embodies the complicated beauty of the modern era by using inexpensive, simple materials to dramatic effect. The works of art are not displayed chronologically inside the warehouse. Instead, they are positioned to create a dialogue within the space and between neighboring displays. The result is a complex medley of humility and grandeur, history and modernity.

“Every artist, even if associated with the Arte Povera movement, followed a distinct artistic path. Each one in his unique way is posing questions about our relationship with history and the past, nature and technological progress, and the role of the artist,” explains Vittorio Calabrese, Magazzino’s director.

The center’s inaugural exhibit embodies the intricacy of the Arte Povera period. Margherita Stein: Rebel With a Cause is an ode to Margherita Stein, a champion of Arte Povera artists and late founder of the Galleria Christian Stein in Turin, Italy. With around 70 works in the collection, most of which have never before been presented to the public, the exhibit is well worth a visit.

“Margherita Stein: Rebel With a Cause has been received extremely well by the community,” says Calabrese. “Visitors engage with the art in a very personal way, and even if they are experiencing a new type of art, they do not feel intimidated, but rather they perceive the message – a contemporary one – the artists wanted to convey.”

Although Magazzino is a newcomer to the Hudson Valley art scene, it has quickly generated a buzz as a niche Italian presence. Locally, the organization already sponsored area artist Melissa McGill for her sculptural project “The Campi,” which was shown at the opening of the 2017 Venice Biennale. It also plans to host a number of educational programs for visitors and community residents to spread the word about Italian art and culture.

On October 4, Magazzino hosted Marco Anelli: Building Magazzino at the Italian Cultural Institute of New York in New York City. The event celebrated Italian artist Marco Anelli’s photographic documentation of the making of Magazzino. During the two years leading up to the opening this past June, Anelli had free creative rein. The resulting 24 photographs illuminate not just the space’s construction and the artwork housed inside it, but also the people and dedication that transformed an idea into a reality.

Bringing Art to the Public

As for visiting the Cold Spring site, admission is free and open to the public by reservation. Appointments can be made on Magazzino’s website by selecting from among the two-hour time blocks at least a day in advance. Although there is no cost to experience the artwork, any financial donations go to the Urban Arts Partnership (UAP), an organization that promotes arts education programs in underserved public schools in New York and Los Angeles. Notably, Olnick and Spanu will match all donations made to further this important cause.

Overall, the Magazzino’s mission is not just to preserve contemporary Italian art, but to embrace the beauty and creativity behind the Italian artistic process as a whole. The space is both a vessel for the belleza of the Mediterranean and an embodiment of the ever-changing, ever-growing nature behind it.

If you’re looking to savor the genius of la bella vita, it might just be closer to home than you think.

VISIT Magazzino at 2700 Route 9, Cold Spring, NY.

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