When asked where to find contemporary art in Rome, the knee-jerk response is a collective shout MAXXI, Rome's most talked about contemporary art museum thanks to its headlines for award-winning design (think white concrete on white) by architect Zaha Hadid and decade long construction issues. But I have to say, I've secretly been vying for the MACRO as top spot for contemplative contemporary shows ever since it re-opened with Odile Decq's neo-goth overhaul. I can't decide if its the programming (usually amazing, often bombastic), its heartwarming championing of artists with working studio spaces, or just the rooftop that makes me weak in the knees. To generalize, MACRO has been showing some great art, and its latest exhibitions are keeping to that vibe. I know, I know, I've talked ad nauseum about L'Altra Ego (Delogu/Fioroni) show, add today's latest exhibitions to the line up and MACRO has hit another grand slam.
I dare you to stop smiling when walking around Pascale Marthine Tayou's Secret Garden, a mind-wrapping exhibition of the Cameroonian artist's installation pieces. He mixes found objects and construction on a large scale to create incredible ambiances which are peaceful, beautiful and conscientious. In the same gallery is Ritratto di Una Città: Art in Rome 1960-2001, full immersion into the history of art in Rome post-war with work primarily by Italian artists. The best part? The floor to ceiling timeline of Rome's art scene during those four decades- an art history and society lesson. Upstairs and next to the Illy caffe (just go) is Jimmy Durham's Streets of Rome and Other Stories, an engaging show of slightly bittersweet installations. The found objects in Durham's work are easily, almost happily recognizable (Budweiser can, baseball, antlers) and out of place, making the overall atmosphere slightly uncomfortable.
Yep, I was floored. And yes, I'll be going back.