It’s Only Natural

The MASI Museum in the city of Lugano in southern Switzerland, a newly formed union of two art spaces, is proving itself to be not only a world-class showcase for Swiss-Italian art, but also a repository for Europe’s most notable private art collections.

To wit, the city has made arrangements with the collectors Giancarlo and Danna Olgiati for roughly 200 works (paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, installations, videos, and artists’ books) to be stored and exhibited, in perpetuity, in the cavernous underground rooms of the MASI’s neighboring building, Spazio Uno. The powerhouse collectors believe that Lugano, with the creation of the new MASI, could become the natural successor of their entire collection.

Within Spazio Uno, an ongoing and evolving exhibition each spring presents the Olgiatis’ important new acquisitions, typically from 20th-century avant-garde movements, as well as contemporary names. Nature Is What We See (March 29 – June 16, 2019) is this spring’s exhibition, which recalls a verse by the American poet Emily Dickinson and focuses on works that address the natural world.

Highlights include the fluorescent rock piles of Ugo Rondinone, the forlorn iceberg painting by Harold Ancart, the digital vegetation of Gunther Förg, the coral-like shapes and colors of Nairy Baghramian, the organic forms of Pino Pascali, and the geological formations of Tauba Auerbach. Other highlights include works by Vincenzo Agnetti, Christopher Wool, and Markus Raetz.

Harold Ancart, Untitled (Iceberg), 2018

Ugo Rondinone, Blue Yellow Red Mountain, 2017

Mark Grotjahn, Untitled (Full Color Butterfly 41.13), 2010

Yves Klein, Blue Sponge, 1960

Alighiero Boetti, Bringing the World to the World, 1984

Giacomo Balla, Summer Landscape, 1917


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Christopher Wool, Untitled, 2011 

Niki de Saint Phalle, Bathing Beauty, 1966

Michelangelo Pistoletto, Self-Portrait with Plant, 1964

Martial Raysse, Hygienic Display of Vision, 1960