The Civica Galleria d’Arte Moderna (now the Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea or “GAM”) in Turin was constructed on the site of what had been the first public gallery of contemporary art in Italy. The earlier building had opened in 1863 and had been destroyed during a series of raids by British bombers in the fall of 1942. The inaugural exhibition of the rebuilt institution opened on October 31 and ran through December 8, 1959. Amedeo Peyron, mayor of Turin from 1951–62, noted in his introduction to the exhibition catalogue that the new museum complex was the first of its kind in Europe. It included galleries for the permanent collection and traveling exhibitions as well as an art library, screening room, and concert hall.
The exhibition,Capolavori di arte moderna nelle raccolte private (Masterpieces of Modern Art in Private Collections), included 286 works, 242 of which came from just three private collections. A general display featured work by Paul Cézanne (1839–1906), Paul Gauguin (1848–1903), Amedeo Modigliani (1884–1920), and Gino Severini (1883–1966), while two separate galleries were devoted to monographic presentations of Italian artists: Felice Casorati (1883–1963) and Luigi Spazzapan (1889–1958).
This particular label is affixed to the stretcher of Braque’s Still Life on a Table: “Duo pour flute” (1913–14). The painting was owned by Gianni Mattioli (1903–1977), a cotton merchant based in Milan. The exhibition catalogue lists 115 loans from Mattioli. He loaned works from his collection to a series of exhibitions in the late 1950s and early 1960s with the intention of promoting Italian modern art in Italy. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he expanded his loans to include venues in the United States, Europe, and Japan.
For more information, see
Brey, Ilaria Dagnini. The Venus Fixers: The Remarkable Story of the Allied Soldiers who Saved Italy’s Art During World War II. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009.
Valsecchi, Marco, ed. Capolavori di arte moderna nelle raccolte private.
Exh. cat. Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Turin. Milan: Edizioni del Milione, 1959.