An overview of the Centre Luigi Di Sarro
The Luigi Di Sarro’s Centre of Documentation for Contemporary Artistic Research, a non-profit association that has been active in Rome since 1981, is involved in art and culture. The Centre, named after the artist who tragically died – at only 37 years old – in Rome on 24 February 1979 due to a fatal mistake in a turmoil period during the Italy’s “Years of Lead”, Terrorism and the enactment of the Reale Law. The Centre was founded by Luigi Di Sarro’s family, which continues to direct it in the spirit with which the artist always lived: utmost freedom of thought and a keen interest in all forms of experimentation. Since 1981 the Luigi Di Sarro Centre has promoted the works of young artists, through expositions and exchange projects. At the present time, the activities of the Centre of Study on contemporary art are paralleled by exhibitions and publications that investigate the past several decades, with a section devoted to the Di Sarro Archives, the artist’s works and writings, freely available to consult.
History of the Luigi Di Sarro Centre
The Luigi Di Sarro Centre of Documentation for Contemporary Artistic Research is a non-profit association and was established in Rome in October 1981. As set forth in its charter, its goal is to permit free and open assessment of emerging trends in current artistic research, paying special attention to the newest generation. More specifically, it works through conferences, debates, informative and entertainment events, and an ongoing series of exhibitions at the Centre in Rome and other venues, often cooperating with public and private institutions in Italy and around the world.
The Centre was established to commemorate the intense creative endeavours (ranging from painting to sculpture, graphics and photography, as well as teaching activities at the Fine Art Academies of Macerata and Roma) of Luigi Di Sarro, who died tragically in Rome in 1979. It was founded by the artist’s mother, Alba Mazzei Di Sarro, who dedicated her entire life to head it. Enrico Crispolti was one of its charters members and directed it until 1985.
The Centre, which commenced exhibition activities at the location in Viale Giulio Cesare 71, constitutes a rare point of reference for the research of young artists. It is renowned in Italy as a closely followed and well-attended place of discussion, and continues to work towards broadening opportunities for encounters and the spread of information.
To date the Luigi Di Sarro Centre has proposed about two thousand artists. The DS papers (posters/papers with critical essays and illustrations) documented its first 23 years of activity. The DS 82 – Arte nuova in Italia, the annual almanac edited by Enrico Crispolti, who also wrote the introduction, is a “singular publication” that is the outcome of a cooperative experience self-managed by young artists. Presented at the 8th Expoarte in Bari, it proposed 36 new names in Italian art. DS 83 – Arte nuova in Italia (1984), again edited by Crispolti, who also wrote the essays along with Massimo Bignardi and Luisa Somaini, proposed 30 new emerging artists. Dozens of catalogues have since followed these publications.
The Centre’s activities, which have been regularly announced and often reviewed by newspapers, art and culture journals, radio and television, are also documented in the catalogues of Roman exhibitions of the CRDAV (Rome’s Municipal Research and Documentation Centre for the Visual Arts) and in the leading contemporary art archives (e.g. the Rome Quadriennale).
On 14 October 1990, for the inauguration of the “Orizzontiverticali” exhibition curated by Alessandro Masi, which the Centre organised at the Torre di Ciarrapico (headquarters of the Michetti Prize), Roberto Angelucci, the Mayor of Francavilla al Mare, gave Alba Di Sarro a medal with the coat of arms of the City of Francavilla. The statement of the award reads: “To Alba Mazzei Di Sarro on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the foundation of the Di Sarro Centre, for her steadfast and significant work in the field of contemporary artistic research and the excellent quality of the efforts made by the Di Sarro Centre in Rome on a national and international level to promote and develop cultural debate. From the municipal government of Francavilla al Mare with esteem and gratitude”.
Notable figures who have spoken at the Centre’s exhibitions and debates include: Gino Agnese, Giuseppe Appella, Giulio Carlo Argan, Giuseppe Ayala, Amerigo Bartoli, Florence Baschet, Eugenio Battisti, Enzo Benedetto, Giovanna Bonasegale, M. Francesca Bonetti, Achille Bonito Oliva, Alberto Boatto, Peter Boom, Silvia Bordini, Gianni Borgna, Palma Bucarelli, Omar Calabrese, Mimmo Calopresti, Adele Cambria, Angelo Capasso, Luciano Caramel, Carlo F. Carli, Nicola Carrino, Pino Casagrande, Gaetano Castelli, Nicola Ciarletta, Innocenzo Cipolletta, Tiziana D’Acchille, Alberto D’Ambruoso, Cecilia D’Elia, Raoul M. De Angelis, Giuliana De Crescenzo, Giorgio De Marchis, Giovanna De Sensi, Marco Delogu, Federica Di Castro, Elena Di Raddo, Massimo Duranti, Marta Fattori, Daniela Fonti, Emma Ercoli, Francesca Gallo, Giuseppe Gallo, Stefano Gallo, Emilio Garroni, Giuseppe Gatt, Ludovico Gatto, Vittorio Gelmetti, Antonio Ghirelli, Ugo Gregoretti, Margherita Guccione, Lorenzo Guerrini, Nedda Guidi, Kay Hassan, Anna Imponente, Pietro Ingrao, Maria Lai, Roberto Lambarelli, Philippe Leroy, Paola e Rita Levi Montalcini, Carlo Lizzani, Lucio Lombardo Radice, Mario Lunetta, Simonetta Lux, Valerio Magrelli, Nomusa Makhubu, Nino Manfredi, Mario Marenco, Lea Mattarella, Filiberto Menna, Corradino Mineo, Marina Miraglia, Elena Molè, Alida Moltedo, Giuliano Montaldo, Pio Monti, Italo Moscati, Franco Nucci, Luigi Ontani, Antonio Padellaro, Antonio Passa, Roberto Peccolo, Mario Perniola, Mario Pieroni e Dora Stiefelmeier, Federica Pirani, Alfredo Pirri, Paola Pitagora, Annie Ratti, Antonella Renzitti, Massimo Riposati, Angela Rorro, Marco Rossi Lecce, Giancarlo Santalmassi, Fabio Sargentini, Alessandro Sbordoni, Antonella Sbrilli, Federica Sciarelli, Marinella Senatore, Nicola Siciliani de Cumis, Tonino Sicoli, Carmine Siniscalco, Vincenzo Sparagna, Italo Spinelli, Carmelo Strano, Guido Strazza, Carla Subrizi, Laura Tansini, John Thompson, M.Elisa Tittoni, Simonetta Tozzi, Lorenza Trucchi, Pietro Valsecchi, Carla Vasio, Marcello Venturoli, Francesco Vincitorio, Milena Vukotic, Claudio Zambianchi, Manfred Zylla.
On 31 May 2005 the Luigi Di Sarro Centre inaugurated its new venue in Via Paolo Emilio 28. At the vernissage of the exhibition entitled “Luigi Di Sarro: io sono figlio del mondo” Gianni Borgna, then Councillor for Cultural Policies of the Municipality of Rome, announced that the city had decided to name a street after the artist (Via Luigi Di Sarro, inaugurated on 3 February 2006 in the 10th Municipal District, links Via Mario Broglio and Via Alberto Burri).
The vernissage was also an opportunity to illustrate the future projects of the Centre, which was re-established at the new venue also as a study centre on contemporary art, with a section devoted to the Luigi Di Sarro Archives.
In November 2005, the show entitled “Cose (quasi) mai viste. Idee, processi e progetti della ricerca artistica italiana degli anni Sessanta e Settanta” curated by Mario de Candia and Patrizia Ferri (six encounters: Innocente–Lombardo–Mambor; Patella–Pignotti–Ricciardi; Bignardi–Carrino–Gioli; Angeli–Baruchello–Pisani; Di Sarro–Schifano–Zaza; Accardi–Boetti–Kounellis; catalogue published by Gangemi Editore) was launched with the contribution and patronage of the Municipality of Rome, the Council Office for Cultural Policies and the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage.
The Centre’s new location houses also the Luigi Di Sarro Historical Archives with the library, constituted by the Di Sarro Heritage, which contains books and artistic catalogues (literature, philosophy, sciences, theatre, music and other fields) that belonged to Luigi Di Sarro, found in Rome and abroad, published before March 1979, currently under cataloging. The books and catalogues have been often used by art history students in occasion of Degrees and Masters. The all materials about the Centre’s activities can be consulted by scholars and art historians (by appointment): posters/papers, invitation postcards, catalogues, recordings, press clippings, photographs, videos and more about the curricula of featured artists.
Following the activity of cultural exchanges with public and private institutions in Italy and abroad, from 2009 is active the ARP – Art Residency Project, conceived and promoted by the Di Sarro Centre. Until today are 13 the artists involved in the swop between Italy and South Africa, with different local partners and training activities addressed to young artists (the fifth edition is currently in progress). Furthermore in Cuba, where the Di Sarro Centre was invited by the Italian Ambassador Marco Baccin, to partecipate at the Italian week of Culture in L’Habana on 2010 (show Bini/Biocca “Un projecto especifico”) and then on the 2011 (show Chevalier/Magni “Visus” with an artistic interact in the Barrio de Cantarrana in cooperation with the NGO Cisp -Sviluppo dei popoli and a Round Table “Art and Urban Transformation”). The Centre’s activities also include encounters connected with current issues, such as the cycle entitled “Scatti dell’altro mondo” (Pics on the Other World) with a series of photography exhibitions staged in collaboration with public institutions, media partners, NGOs and associations engaged to cooperation and civil rights.