History of the Luigi Di Sarro Centre
The Luigi Di Sarro Documentation Centre for Contemporary Artistic Research, a non-profit association, 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, a physician and artist who died tragically in Rome in 1979. It was founded by the artist’s mother, Alba Mazzei Di Sarro, who continues 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 a thousand artists presented by internationally renowned critics such as F. Abbate, A. Abruzzese, F. Alfano Miglietti, P. Balmas, M. Bandini, M. Bentivoglio, M. Bignardi, E. Bonessio di Terzet, O. Calabrese, G. Cannilla, L. Canova, L. Caramel, L. Cherubini, A. Cochetti, M. Crescentini, E. Crispolti, G. Dalla Chiesa, M. de Candia, L. De Marinis, G. Di Bert, F. Di Castro, G. Di Genova, E. Ercoli, D. Evola, P. Ferri, L. P. Finizio, G. Frazzetto, R. Gavarro, G. Gigliotti, F. Gualdoni, D. Guzzi, A. Imponente, T. Macrì, L. Mango, B. Martusciello, L. Marziano, A. Masi, L. Mattarella, F. Menna, M. Miraglia, M. Perniola, A. Ponzio, L. Pratesi, A. Rorro, T. Sicoli, R. Siena, G. Simongini, F. Speroni, C. Strano, E. Torelli Landini, B. Tosi, L. Trucchi and F. Zoccoli.
The DS papers (posters/papers with critical essays and illustrations) documented its first 23 years of activity. 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 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 Giulio Carlo Argan, Eugenio Battisti, Achille Bonito Oliva, Gianni Borgna, Palma Bucarelli, Nicola Ciarletta, Giorgio De Marchis, Emilio Garroni, Vittorio Gelmetti, Lorenzo Guerrini, Philippe Leroy, Paola and Rita Levi Montalcini, Carlo Lizzani, Lucio Lombardo Radice, Simonetta Lux, Valerio Magrelli, Nino Manfredi, Giuliano Montaldo, Italo Moscati, Paola Pitagora and Giancarlo Santalmassi.
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” (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 sponsorship and support of the Municipality of Rome, the Council Office for Cultural Policies and the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage.
The Centre’s activities include encounters connected with current issues, such as the cycle entitled “Scatti dell’altro mondo” with a series of photography exhibitions staged in collaboration with public institutions, the media, NGOs and associations committed to cooperation and civil rights.
The Centre’s new location houses the Luigi Di Sarro Archives with the library, constituted by the Di Sarro Collection, with books and catalogues on art, literature, theatre, music and other fields that belonged to Luigi Di Sarro, which he procured in Rome and abroad. All of these works, which were published before March 1979, are currently being catalogued. (The books and catalogues have been used by art history students from La Sapienza University of Rome and postgraduate students from the University of Tor Vergata for their masters’ theses, and for thesis from the University of Siena – School of Specialisation in Art History.
Furthermore, the entire documentation on the Centre’s activities and all of its materials can also be consulted: posters/papers, invitation postcards, catalogues, recordings, press clippings, photographs, videos and more about the curricula of featured artists, such as Andrea Aquilanti, Seon-Ghi Bahk, Carlo Bernardini, Krzysztof Bednarski, Angelo Casciello, Gianfranco D’Alonzo, Claudio D’Angelo, Maria Dompé, Giacinto Cerone, Franco Marrocco, Gloria Pastore, Oliviero Rainaldi, Luigi Viola and Alberto Zanazzo, as well as historic artists.