Rome Contemporary Rome: Beyond the Classics
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Rome Contemporary Rome: Beyond the Classics

The eternal city is more than just an open-air museum, it's also the place for contemporary art ... you just need to know where to look

Because of its ancient history and devotion to classical art, Rome has never had a wonderful relationship with contemporaneity. Although this hasn’t prevented the capital from experiencing a few years of splendour in the past, today’s contemporary art market finds itself somewhat weakened as art galleries here find it hard to compete with other capitals like London, Berlin or Paris.

Nevertheless, there are some exclusive places for those who wish to discover new talent or safely invest in big-name artworks. This begins, of course, with the Gagosian Gallery, owned by American art dealer Larry Gagosian who inaugurated it 2007 in a neoclassical building and former bank, and is actively awakening Rome’s interest in contemporary art with works by Hirst, Serra and Murakami. After visiting the Gagosian Gallery, stop at the Lorcan O’Neill Gallery, inside the stables of Palazzo Santacroce, another city landmark with a penchant for minimalist or conceptual movements, exemplified with works by the likes of Tracey Emin.

While in Trastevere, visit the sinuous interiors of Ex Elettrofonica which boasts exhibits by young artists discovered by the duo Acciarri/Bertini. The Ghetto district is also a very lively area for contemporary art. Around Piazza Mattei, galleries Anna Marra Contemporanea and Valentina Bonomo (whose sister Alessandra owns another important international space Galleria Alessandra Bonomo) exhibit works by Marc Quinn, Hamish Fulton, Barry McGee and Clare Rojas. Also worth mentioning is Francesca Antonini (formerly known as Il Segno), the historic gallery near the Spanish Steps with a penchant for painting and younger generations of Italian artists, including Antonello Viola, Guglielmo Castelli, and Sabrina Casadei.

Three other addresses where you can purchase works of promising Italian and international artists include Studio Sales of Norberto Ruggeri, Magazzino and T293.

To finish the tour, venture to Tor Pignattara – it is well worth the effort. The Wunderkammern Gallery opened its doors to street art (it is no coincidence that the venue is located in the district renowned for murals and wall painting). Here, works by the likes of Sten Lex and MP5 are exhibited.

The Aqua Virgo ruins Thanks to the renovation of Rinascente Tritone, an ancient treasure was unearthed: The Aqua Virgo ruins from 19 BC. They can be visited freely and admired from the coffee bar.
Terrace with a view The rooftop terrace on the sixth floor of Rinascente Tritone allows visitors to appreciate a 180° panorama with St Peter’s Dome, the Basilica of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte, Borromini’s Bell Towers, Villa Borghese and the Quirinale Palace.