Wednesday, 1 November 2017

The graphic art collection of the Casabianca Museum

Casabianca is a small art museum in a tiny little town called Malo (VI) in the north-east of Italy. It is a testimonial to the artistic passion and the vision of an Italian art-collector called Giobatta Meneguzzo. The museum presents his collection of contemporary drawings, graphic-art and art-prints.


Meeting Giobatta Meneguzzo

I live in Schio (VI), a tiny town in the foothills of Alps mountains in the north-east of Italy. Malo is a few kilometres away from our home. Some months ago, our local cultural association organised a "Meet an artist" programme, under which we were supposed to visit the house of a local sculptor and talk to him about his art.

My friend Roberto came to pick me up and informed me that on the way, we will make a brief stop to pick up Giobatta, who is the artist's uncle. That was my introduction to the 89 years old Giobatta and to his collection of contemporary graphic art housed in Casabianca (literally "White house") museum in Malo.


Giobatta was kind enough to take me around his museum. Later, as we travelled to his nephew's house, we talked a little. This post is based on that meeting. It provides an introduction to the Casabianca museum and to Giobatta.

Brief introduction about Geobatta

Geobatta was born in 1928 in Priabona, a small fraction of Malo. He studied to become a geometra, someone who does surveys of terrains and projects civil buildings. His introduction to the world of graphic arts came through art books and art magazines such as the works of Skira and a magazine called "Domus". Fascinated by art, he started collecting graphic art and art prints in the 1960s and continued till 1990s.

The Casabianca museum was established in 1978. It is situated in a 400 years old building belonging to the Morandi Bonacossi family. Built around 1668, it is a compact solid looking building that used to be the "Montecio farming estate". At the same time, it has an aristocratic touch as shown by the high vaults, big halls and well made solid pillars.

Casabianca Art Collection

The graphic art and prints collected by Giobatta are very different from the usual art collections in museums - most of them are small in size, many of them apparently very simple and some of them can be defined as ordinary or even ugly. Most of the time, people collecting art focus on big art works with a strong good-looking visual impact. People collecting art as a financial investment go for famous artists. Museums do not have works of relatively lesser-known artists.

Giobatta's approach was different - he wanted to understand the artistic expression through his own appreciation of art. He looked for art which touched him instead of collecting famous works of famous artists. This means that looking at the art displayed in Casabianca museum, you can have a very personal and subjective view of art, without being influenced by the words of well-known art critics and hypes created by auction houses.


Even if you have been to different art museums around the world, Casabianca museum will surprise you. Most museums highlight the important art works of their collection, especially those of the famous artists. Casabianca is different - the art works are put in an apparently random way without highlighting those of the famous artists. The museum seems to tell you that you should not wait for someone else to tell you what is beautiful or what is important - look at the art through your own eyes and see which art and artists speak to your heart. Discover your personal view of significant art.


Not knowing which art works were by famous or important artists, was disorienting when I went around the Casabianca museum accompanied by Giobatta. The art works displayed here represent most of the important art movements from 1960s to 1990s including pop-art, kinetic-art, neo-realism, conceptual art, American graffiti, anachronism movement, minimal art and body art. Overall there are 1200 art-works of 700 artists exhibited in the museum.

Fred Licht, the curator of Peggy Guggenheim museum wrote about the art works displayed in Casabianca museum in 1992: "You can enter into a dialogue with artists like Beuys or Serra or Manzoni, more directly and more efficiently by looking at their small sized works, instead of their giant operas which overwhelm the observer and delay or complicate the direct communication with the artist ..."

The museum is popular with school children who come here to look at art and to discuss the different art movements and styles that have influenced visual arts and specially graphic-arts during the second half of 20th century.

It was a hurried visit for me, as we had to go for our group visit to the house of another artist. Still, the unorthodox approach chosen by Giobatta piqued my interest and I am hoping to go back there to look properly at the art works.

Conclusions

Casabianca museum is a private art collection. It focuses on graphic art of second half of the 20th century. I am sure that today it is possible to see many examples of the graphic-art through internet. Still looking directly at the art works instead of admiring them as images is a completely different experience.

It was a hurried visit to the Casabianca museum on that day. However, even in that short visit, I was intrigued by the ideas of Giobatta and his art collection.


When we admire art we focus on the artists and their artistic expressions. People discovering artists and running art galleries is another group of people that has received some attention. However, who are the persons who collect art and why do they do it? Meeting Giobatta raised this question in my mind.

I am planning to go back to Casabianca and look at its exhibits with a little bit more time. If you are visiting this part of north-east Italy around Vicenza and its province, perhaps you will also like to visit this unique museum.

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4 comments:

  1. Amazing works. Nice to read about the Museum.

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    1. Thanks Rupam. We are surrounded by art in our daily lives, museums like Casabianca can be stimulation for learning to appreciate this daily-life art.

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  2. 1200 works of 700 artists...Wow! Are they arranged according to the genre/movement or the time period or just random? Would have loved to see some more pictures of art though. :)
    So agree with you when you say, "...look at the art through your own eyes and see which art and artists speak to your heart. Discover your personal view of significant art."
    It must have been such a treat to see it all in person!! Thanks for sharing it especially when the museum is a private unbiased collection.

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    1. Thanks Deepa.
      I must plead my ignorance about the different styles and movements of graphic art about which Giobatta had talked to me. Thus, I can't say if the different movements and styles are grouped together or are displayed randomly. While Giobatta said that his displays are all random, I could see that different operas of the same artists were displayed together in groups. I need to go back to the museum and spend some time there to understand more about its art collection.

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