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The Estorick Collection reopens after refurbishment works with an exhibition on World War I art from the Italian front

foto estorick
The preview for the reopening of the Estorick Collection, 12 January 2017.

The Estorick Collection, the only collection in the UK dedicated entirely to Italian art, reopened today after being closed for several months for renovation. The first exhibition in the renovated building is a series of paintings and photographs documenting the joint British and Italian interventions on the northeast Italian front during the First World War.

Minister Vincenzo Celeste, the vice head of mission at the Italian Embassy in the UK, attended the reopening of the renovated building housing the Estorick Collection in Islington, where he was received by the director, Roberta Cremoncini. Sir Nicholas Serota, the presidente of the Arts Council England and former director of the Tate Galleries; the vice-mayor of Islington, Una O’Halloran; and Michael Estorick, the son of the collection’s founder, were also present.

The Estorick Collection temporarily closed its doors last summer while renovation work was carried out. The project was overseen by the architect Nathaniel Gee and entailed significant changes to the entrance hall and café, which were redesigned with a new veranda creating a direct passageway from the café to the gardens. New windows and LED lights were also installed to provide improved illumination, new bathrooms were added, and the building was made more accessible. All of these improvements will allow the museum to better meet the needs of its visitors.

In his speech on behalf of Ambassador Terracciano, Minister Celeste observed that in few, if any, cases did the works on display show scenes of conflict. Much more common were depictions of interaction between the local people, who were often beaten down by the conflict, and the British. These are powerful images, he pointed out, which throw new light on those dramatic years and provide an important testimony to the contact between the British and the Italians: between people who, regardless of politics and war, were first and foremost human beings.

The Estorick Collection plays an important role in raising awareness among the British public of avant-garde art in the early 20th century and important post-war artists. It is the only gallery in the UK with a collection comprising exclusively Italian art, most of it from the years between 1890 and 1960, including works by Futurists such as Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà and Gino Severini.

The collection was founded by Eric Estorick (1913-1993), an American sociologist who began collecting early-20th-century Italian art. He moved to the UK after the Second World War and visited Italy often, discovering Italian art of that period and becoming a great admirer of Boccioni and many of his contemporaries.

The collection reopened with “War in the sunshine: the British in Italy 1917-18”, an exhibition on the British army’s operations in Italy in the First World War, curated by Dr Jonathan Black, with paintings by Sydney Carline and photographs by WJ Brunnel and Ernest Brooks. The exhibition will be on until 19 March 2017.

– Estorick Collection


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