Art, with an Italian accent

Those with a quick eye might spot the sign along Route 9 in Cold Spring — Magazzino Italian Art.

This artistic venture in unexpected surroundings — a private warehouse space — has been showcasing postwar and contemporary Italian art to visitors, by appointment, since late June.

Magazzino, which happens to be the Italian word for “warehouse,” opened its doors with “Margherita Stein: Rebel With a Cause,” an ongoing exhibition spotlighting the pioneer of Arte Povera, an avant-garde movement that took hold in 1960s Europe. 

Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu, founders of Magazzino Italian Art.
Photograph by Marco Anelli. Courtesy Magazzino Italian Art.

Designed to honor Stein’s legacy in America, the show is also set to renew the dialogue on postwar Italian art, reflecting the broader goal of the gallery itself.

As gallery director Vittorio Calabrese said at the time of its opening, “‘Margherita Stein: Rebel With a Cause’ not only focuses on the core group of artists associated with the Arte Povera movement but also incorporates artists from the generation that followed. Almost all the works in the show have never been previously exhibited in the United States. We are not presenting the works chronologically, but rather want to highlight the individuality of each artist’s distinctive approach. What unifies them is the relationship to Stein, whose support of these artists was unflinching for over 40 years. Our goal is to support Italian art, as well as international contemporary artists with strong ties to Italian culture with the same vigor as Stein demonstrated during her lifetime.”

Magazzino displays works from the Olnick Spanu Collection, a sweeping private initiative established by longtime art advocates Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu, the gallery founders who have a home in Garrison. 

The building — its transformation the subject of a photographic study and now, an exhibition, “Marco Anelli: Building Magazzino,” that continues at the Italian Cultural Institute of New York in Manhattan through Nov. 2 — was once a farmers’ warehouse. It was then converted to a dairy distribution center and most recently served as a computer factory before this repurposing within a larger design conceived and led by Spanish architect Miguel Quismondo. In creating the more than 18,000 square feet of exhibition space and a library, Quismondo doubled the square footage of the former space with an innovative design integrating the old with the new.

Magazzino Italian Art in Cold Spring. Photograph by Marco Anelli. Courtesy Magazzino Italian Art.

The complex, with a contemplative center courtyard, is said to reflect the broader mission of Magazzino through both its on- and off-site programs and sponsorships, to present work from established and emerging artists that encourages conversations about both Italy and its cultural identity.

For instance, Magazzino sponsored a project by Melissa McGill, an artist based in the Hudson Valley, whose last project, “The Campi,” was shown in various venues during the opening of the 2017 Venice Biennale. This sculptural sound project reproduced the sounds of the Venetian squares, offering insight into these iconic elements of Italian life.

With the gallery open free by appointment, Magazzino has announced it will give any donations received in lieu of admission to Urban Arts Partnership, with Olnick and Spanu matching the dollar amount of each donation.

Magazzino Italian Art is at 2700 Route 9 in Cold Spring. The gallery has announced Michelangelo Pistoletto will offer the latest reenactment of his 1967 performance “Walking Sculpture,” Nov. 4 in Cold Spring. The performance will find the artist rolling his signature work, “Newspaper Sphere,” through the village’s streets. For more, visit magazzino.art/.

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