As part of the PAC2021 – Plan for Contemporary Art project, the Fondazione Filiberto e Bianca Menna, chaired by Letizia Magaldi, and the Lavatoio Contumaciale, chaired by Tomaso Binga, present “Occasioni del Tempo / Occasions of Time”. Works from the Filiberto and Bianca Menna Collection, an exhibition that stems from the desire to show a nucleus of the 270 works that Tomaso Binga (born Bianca Pucciarelli Menna) decided to donate to the Filiberto and Bianca Menna Foundation, assigning them to the public heritage with the idea of creating a contemporary art museum in Salerno and thus offering the city of origin an arts centre. Specifically, it is a conspicuous group of works spanning different periods and artistic climates, from the Historic Avant-gardes and the great movements of the early 20th century to Kinetic and Programmed Art, from Pop Art to Arte Povera, from Visual Poetry to Analytical Painting, from Poor Abstraction theorised by Filiberto Menna himself to certain nuances of the postmodern galaxy. Taken as a whole, it is an organic, dense and interdependent nucleus that fully reflects the Menna couple’s taste, their history, their human and cultural adventure.
Organised between the Roman headquarters of the Foundation (formerly the Menna/Binga Archive) and the Lavatoio Contumaciale, the exhibition features a number of works from the 1970s and 1980s by artists and friends such as Vincenzo Agnetti, Renato Barisani, and Tomaso Binga herself, Piero Gilardi, Maria Lai, Fabio Mauri, Vettor Pisani, Ketty La Rocca, Renato Mambor, Pino Pinelli, Salvatore Emblema, Antonio Passa, Enrico Pulsoni, Bernard Venet, Emilio Isgrò, Claudio Verna, Michele Zaza or Dadamaino, who wrote in a letter dated 10 April 1986 “Dearest Filiberto, I enclose herewith two original drawings”, these are the two Constellations in red and blue Indian ink, “of which you will choose the one to publish. I am sending them to you because I would then like you to keep them as a welcome gift from me. […]. Thank you for everything and a big hug to you and Binga, with much esteem and affection, dada’.
Inside the collection is a refined nucleus of charcoals, pencils, lithographs, graphics and engravings (or even multiples such as that of Jesus Soto from 1969) purchased by Menna – mostly from Roman galleries – ever since he was a very young official at the High Commission for Hygiene and Prophylaxis. Among the names in this historical nucleus that also highlights the scholar’s interest in the historical avant-garde are Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, Enrico Allimandi, Carlo Carrà, Marc Chagall, Alfred Kubin, Otto Dix, Paul Klee, Jean Dubuffet, Kari Hubbuch and Luigi Veronesi. Next are two engravings by William Hogarth (First stage of cruelty and Second stage of cruelty, 1750-1751) purchased by Menna in the late 1970s.
Noteworthy in the range of historical artists in the collection are Enrico Prampolini’s Three Moments (1924) and Conflict of Forces (1952), which Filiberto Menna received as a gift from the artist’s grandchildren in the aftermath of the important 1967 publication, the first systematic reconstruction of Prampolini’s life and work. A separate discourse should be made for Composizione n. 19 (1918-1920) by Julius Evola, purchased at Galleria La Medusa in Rome on the occasion of the Evola exhibition curated by Enrico Crispolti, where Menna had gone in the company of Paolo Portoghesi on 23 November 1963, the day of the vernissage.
Also of great historical interest is Victor Vasarely’s silkscreen print (Untitled, 1965c.), a work exhibited on the occasion of the exhibition The Perceptual Impact curated by Alberto Boatto and Filiberto Menna as part of the three Amalfi Exhibitions (1966).
Looking at the pieces that make up the collection with care, it is indeed possible to understand the cultural choices and in some cases the generosity of both Filiberto and Binga, who has been active with the Lavatoio Contumaciale since 1974 where she organised, often in dialogue with her husband, exhibitions of visual and sound poets, meetings, and projects by important names in art such as Renato Barisani whose two works are now on display at the Lavatoio.
(from the press release)
Occasioni del tempo /Occasions of Time. Works from the Filiberto and Bianca Menna’s Foundation, curated by Antonello Tolve and Stefania Zuliani, 12.04 – 12.07.2023, Fondazione Filiberto e Bianca Menna, Via dei Monti di Pietralata 16 – Rome, Lavatoio Contumaciale, Piazzetta Perin del Vaga 4 – Rome
images: (cover 1) (2) Tomaso Binga,«Domus aurea. Alfabeto poetico monumentale», 2019 (from «Scrittura vivente», 1976), digital print on canvas on shaped polystyrene, variable sizes (3) Ketty La Rocca, You-You Filiberto Menna’s portrait, 1973, ink on photography, 12×17,5 cm