Day for night: new american realism

Day for night: new american realism

14 April 2024 - 14 July 2024

From April 14 to July 14, 2024, the Gallerie Nazionali di Arte Antica, in collaboration with Beirut’s Aïshti Foundation, present the exhibition Day for Night: New American Realism, curated by Massimiliano Gioni and Flaminia Gennari Santori.

The exhibition features more than 150 works by American artists from the Tony and Elham Salamé collection, presented in collaboration with their Aïshti Foundation. One of today’s most dynamic contemporary art institutions, the Foundation was established twenty-five years ago by the Italian-Lebanese entrepreneur Tony Salamé and his wife Elham.

The exhibition takes its title from a work featured in the Salamé collection by New York artist Lorna Simpson. Day for Night—in Italian, “Effetto notte”—is a cinematic effect that allows night scenes to be filmed in daylight. The title was also made famous by a 1973 film by François Truffaut, and in French, the day-for-night effect is called “La Nuit Américaine,” or “the American night.” This image is well-suited to the chiaroscuro visions of the artists included in Day for Night, who, in recent decades, have captured the reality of the United States in all its blinding complexity.

Palazzo Barberini will host a selection of works by US-based artists—including, among many others, Cecily Brown, George Condo, Nicole Eisenman, Urs Fischer, Wade Guyton, Julie Mehretu, Laura Owens, Richard Prince, Charles Ray, David Salle, Dana Schutz, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, Henry Taylor, and Christopher Wool—whose work interrogates the meanings and functions of figuration in contemporary art, addressing crucial questions around the notion of realism and the representation of truth in contemporary painting.

The progressive erosion of the very definition of truth that has characterized US culture in recent years has paradoxically coincided with a return to figuration in the work of numerous contemporary artists. While concepts such as “alternative facts” and “post-truths” have made their way into American public consciousness, many artists have undertaken a complex reflection on the concept of realism, particularly in the field of contemporary painting. This exhibition will bring together work by emerging artists who are investigating new approaches to figurative imagery, along with contributions by important predecessors who have anticipated current discussions around representation and verism.

This reflection around the notion of realism finds an original and extraordinary context in the Palazzo Barberini, which house an important group of Caravaggio paintings and the largest collection of works by so-called “Caravaggeschi”—the painters who, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, participated in completely reconfiguring the naturalistic representation of reality, profoundly affecting the history of Italian and European art.

In addition to the galleries for temporary exhibitions on the ground floor, Day for Night will also be presented in the monumental halls of the main floor of Palazzo Barberini — Atrio Bernini, Sala Ovale, Sala Marmi and Atrio Borromini – one of the most celebrated architectures of the Italian Baroque — and in the so-called Appartamento del Settecento, a unique rococo interior that is very rarely open to the public.

Between baroque interiors and monumental spaces, the exhibition represents an exceptional opportunity to encounter the most recent developments in contemporary art in United States, as seen through one of today’s most important collections. Placed in dialogue with the art and architecture of Palazzo Barberini, Day for Night: New American Realism offers a rich exploration of the relationships that, since the seventeenth century, have intersected representations of reality, power, and spectacle.

The visit to the section of the exhibition set up in the Appartamento del Settecento, due to conservation needs, will be allowed to 25 people at a time. Please notice that the Appartamento is not accessible to individuals with mobility disabilities.

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