Born in Florence in 1967, artist Flavio Favelli lives and works in Savigno, near Bologna. Since April, Favelli has been in residence at the American Academy in Rome as an Italian Fellow in the Arts. On Monday evening 12 July, more than 300 artists, gallerists and collectors joined the Academy community at an informal open studio where Favelli showed some of his current work. The focus in his pavillion studio was on a series of imposing yet radiant furniture-like constructions—entitled Mobilia—each bathed in neon light that grew ever stronger as dusk gave way to nightfall.
Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, a curator at MAXXI, characterized Favelli’s work for this show as a “sober and secular Baroque” and observed that in the show’s placement in the AAR pavillion, here “the artist has constructed a series of works that…interact with the architecture and in their totality constitute an environment.”
Among those spotted at the event were Luca Massimo Barbero (Director, MACRO); Laura Barreca (curator, MAXXI); Elisabetta Benassi (artist); Stefania Bortolami (Bortolami Galley, NYC); Mario Croce (collector); Costantino D’Orazio (curator and historian of art); Giovanni Giuliani (Collezione Giuliani, Fondazione Giuliani); Giuliano and Ines Musumeci Greco (Casa Musumeci Greco); Lorcan O’Neill (Galleria Lorcan O’Neill); Caterina Pazzi (Scheiwiller Edizioni); Alessandro Piangiamore (artist); Bartolomeo Pietromarchi (curator, MAXXI); Giuseppe Pietroniro (artist); Adriana Polveroni (curator, journalist, art critic); Ludovico Pratesi (critic, artistic director of the Centro Arti Visive Pescheria di Pesaro, director Fondazione Guastalla); Marco Raparelli (artist, 2010/11 AAR Italian Fellow in the Arts); Norberto Ruggeri (Galleria S.A.L.E.S); Alessandro Sarra (artist); Federica Schiavo (Federica Schiavo Gallery); Guido Schlinkert (Galleria Extraspazio); Stefano and Raffaella Sciarretta (Nomas Foundation); Shara Wasserman (curator, Director of Exhibitions, Temple University Rome campus); and many other notables from the world of Italian contemporary art. AAR Programs Associate Lexi Eberspacher organized the event for the Academy.
Present to cater the event, from Favelli’s hometown of Savigno, was Alberto Bettini, of Amerigo dal 1934 Trattoria, Dispensa e Locanda. More than 450 individual panini typical of Savigno were served, accompanied by wine from Vallona di Fagnano of the Bologna region.
Flavio Favelli has exhibited in important public and private spaces in Italy and abroad, most recently (2010) the Centro Arti Visive Pescheria in Pesaro. Earlier shows include (in 2008) Venice’s Palazzo Grassi, (in 2007) Fondazione Sandretto in Turin and Maison Rouge in Paris, and (in 2004) IIC in Los Angeles. In 2003 Favelli took part in the 50th Venice Biennale, in the Clandestini section.
In 2005 a permanent installation of Favelli’s Vestibolo was set in the foyer of the ANAS building in Venice; the year 2008 saw his Sala d’Attesa, a place for funeral ceremonies at the Certosa of Bologna, with accompanying book. Favelli’s piece Carta d’Italia Unita (2010)—an oversized map of Italy, cut up and reassembled to form the shape of the Peninsula at a scale of 1:250,000—is exhibited at the new MAXXI.
MAXXI curator Bartolomeo Pietromarchi went on to remark of Favelli’s new pieces that “the relationship with death, and in particular with the architectural structures that refer to it, has always been central in Favelli’s works, in the links between built space and memory, whether it is the secular environment of the Certosa cemetery in Bologna, the Mausoleum of Theodoric, or the ‘vestment’ of the plane from the tragedy of Ustica. That relationship with death is also the foundation of the whole spirituality of the Baroque, a time saturated with a sense of futility, consumption, mortality, from which follows its iconography and architectural design.” You can read Pietromarchi’s complete appreciation (in Italian) here.
A word about the Italian Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome. Since 2005, the McKim Medal has been awarded each spring at a gala dinner at the AAR’s Villa Aurelia. Proceeds from the McKim Medal Gala make possible fellowships that provide both Italian and American winners with important opportunities to pursue their individual studies and engage in the international dialogue of scholarship and the arts. Funds raised by the Gala allow Italian artists to join the Academy community each year, and support an exchange program for scholars in the humanities that links the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa with the American Academy in Rome. These opportunities have proven to be an enrichment both to the individual fellows and to the larger international community.
For the year 2009/10, in addition to Flavio Favelli, recipients for the Italian Fellowship in the Arts have been composer Emanuele Casale (Palermo) and photographer Luca Nostri (Lugo). Italian Fellows in the Humanities were art historian Chiara Bernazzani and classicist Alessandro Poggio, both doctoral candidates at the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa. In addition, Matthew Notarian (FAAR’09), a graduate student in the Department of Classics, University at Buffalo, studied in Pisa at the Scuola Normale this year under an exchange agreement with the AAR.