Curated by Fabio Benzi, the exhibition is characterized by a cut of extreme interest: the more than seventy works on display come in large part from only two very important collections, one assembled by Margherita Sarfatti and the other by Ada Catenacci Balzarotti. There are therefore two women at the origin of two of the most significant collections of Italian art of the ‘900 of which we have memory.
Both Margherita Sarfatti and Ada Catenacci have recognized in Mario Sironi the greatest artist of thetheir time collecting hundreds of selected works. Relegated, in the post-war narrative, to the role of lover of Benito Mussolini, the figure of Margherita Sarfatti is actually that of a star of the first magnitude. Talent scout with an infallible nose, the first European woman art critic militant and also woman of power capable of surpassing the role of any dominant male of his time, Margherita was the true ruler of Italian art between 1922 and 1929, arriving to forge a movement, the Italian twentieth century, of capital importance in the development of the history of European modern art. Very cultured, multilingual, cosmopolitan, she should also be remembered as the author of one of the international publishing successes of the 20s: Dux, biography of Benito Mussolini translated into countless languages and absolute champion of sales. Less known to the general public, but also perfectly adhering to the prototype of a cultured and emancipated woman of which the second decade of the ‘900 offers many examples, Ada Catenacci approaches the art world in the late ’30s. The reason that drives her, together with her husband Giuseppe Balzarotti, to the purchase of paintings and sculptures is that of the search for an alternative investment to foreign securities, of which, since 1935, it is forbidden to own. From that first impulse of the totally accidental Ada matures an authentic and autonomous passion, cultivated not only tightening relationships with the most important gallerists of Milan – the great square of the Italian market of the art – but also going to find the artists directly in their studios. To new friends she opens the doors of the beautiful house built on Lake Garda, home to a cultural salon that she, refined and cosmopolitan rampolla of one of the most important industrial Italian textiles, rules with brilliant ease and great heart. Ada Catenacci’s profile is in fact that of a true patron, always ready to help artists in difficulty by buying their works. His latest purchase of works by Mario Sironi perfectly expresses this trait of his approach to collecting.