ROME – Painted walls and doors, decorated furniture and furnishings, clothes designed and sewn at home. Chandeliers, majolica, ceramics and decorated and self-produced plates. And then paintings, drawings, sculptures everywhere. Casa Balla is a “total work of art”, the apartment at 39 via Oslavia, Della Vittoria district of Rome, where the great futurist artist Giacomo Balla lived with his wife and daughters Luce and Elica from 1929 to his death, in 1958. For the first time, this “workshop of the future” opens its doors to the public (with reservations required) from Friday 25 June every weekend for five months, until Sunday 21 November. A “very important result” arrived 150 years after the birth of the artist, the result of a choral work carried out by the Special Superintendence of Rome and the Maxxi Museum, which set up the exhibition ‘From the home to the universe and back’.
Together with the works of eight contemporary architects and designers who interact with Balla, in the rooms of via Guido Reni are also gathered all the pieces from the Roman house of the artist bought by private individuals before the constraint imposed by the Superintendency in 2004, ten years after the death of Giacomo Balla’s daughters.
“Casa Balla enhances the kaleidoscopic and experimental universe of the great futurist master, a 360-degree vision of great inspiration for today’s creative communities, as demonstrated by the visions of contemporary artists on show at the Maxxi”, he said Giovanna Melandri, president of the Foundation.
On the fourth floor of via Oslavia the amazement already comes from the front door, where a plaque made by the artist bears his signature: FuturBalla. It is this first work of art and craftsmanship that anticipates the universe of colors in which one is immediately immersed after passing the entrance. The long corridor with the walls painted in yellow, green and blue, including the ceiling, is dotted with his paintings, a hymn to movement and action. Just turn around to find a hanger with a brightly colored men’s jacket and an absolutely unconventional cut, another highlight of Balla’s originality that he had theorized with Futurism ‘The antineutral dress’.
Going along the corridor you arrive at the Red studio. In this small room where dark red dominates some of Balla’s books are preserved, while the door, also painted, is now at the Maxxi for the exhibition and comes from the Biagiotti collection. The designer had in fact a great passion for Giacomo Balla, so much so that today her Foundation preserves about 300 works by the Turin artist, partly coming from the apartment in via Oslavia.
“My parents left this beautiful trace of the future. Drawing the future is what my mother left me, ”he said today Lavinia Biagiotti, who also recalled the afternoons at Casa Balla drawing with Claudia, a descendant of the artist. “My grandfather was his first cousin – he explained – I wish everyone to enjoy this house that I lived in my childhood, I appreciated its noises, colors, strength and fullness. It was filled with art, much more than today, so much so that the walls were layered with paintings. Luce and Elica remembered their father every day, he was a very strong personality, but their paintings were just as excellent “.
And in fact the rooms of Luce and Elica still show their inspiration and creativity, combined with a craftsmanship that they also showed with the embroidery they made based on their father’s design. It proves it the tablecloth set up on the kitchen table and decorated with futuristic motifs together with a colorful plate service. Sometimes, the Balla family also sold these self-produced objects as a form of sustenance. After all, every object of daily life in Casa Balla became art, even the easels, set up today in the magnificent hall furnished with furniture designed by the artist himself and where the three large panels of the painting ‘The hands of the Italian people’ stood out.
Last room in the house is the artist’s studio which today, together with the original furnishings, houses the display cases where Balla’s drawings and sketches are kept, all restored by the Special Superintendence of Rome which also carried out the inventory of Casa Balla. “We have restored 62 drawings and 23 posters relating to the artist’s exhibitions. It was a difficult intervention because the drawings were tiny or very large, made on heterogeneous materials such as newspaper or very delicate supports that had undergone a very strong deterioration “, said the superintendent Daniela porro.
“It is a great joy to have opened the house. When I entered it for the first time in 2012 – recalled Porro – I was enchanted by the sense of total work, but I wondered how to preserve this heritage and enhance it. Fortunately, Maxxi took care of it with this very important cultural operation ”. The Bank of Italy also contributed to the restoration of Casa Balla, which also carried out and completed the restoration of the Bal tic tac, the mythical futurist venue in Via Milano decorated by the artist in 1921. Today, those decorations, those colors, those noises and those traits do not cease to be contemporary and indeed can be found in the works of architects and designers who are continually confronted with the strength of places like via Milano and via Oslavia, just to stay in Rome. They do it with different styles and languages Ila Beka and Louise Lemoine, Carlo Benvenuto, Alex Cecchetti, Jim Lambie, Emiliano Maggi, Leonardo Sonnoli, Space Popular, Cassina with Patricia Erquiola, whose productions in the Maxxi Gallery 5 mix with the works of Balla. “The Museum of XXI Century Arts deals with Giacomo Balla – finally explained Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, curator of the exhibition together with Domitilla Dardi and director of Maxx – because our line is to reread our historical and artistic heritage through the eyes of artists contemporaries “.