Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Toulouse, FRAC Midi-Pyrénées

Viva Gino ! A Lifetime of Art

Gino Di Maggio’s Art Collection Visits Les Abattoirs: Futurism, Fluxus, Nouveau Réalisme, Poster Artists, Mono-ha, Gutai, Italian Kinetic Art, and more...
From 28 february to 15 november 2020
les Abattoirs
Sergio Lombardo, "Personaggio" (détail), 1963 acrylique sur toile, collection Gino di Maggio (Milan) photo © Antonio Maniscalco

Les Abattoirs is presenting works acquired over a number of years by Gino Di Maggio (born in 1940), an Italian collector who has spent time with and promoted artists who disrupted the international art scene from the 1950s and 60s onwards. This exhibition brings together fifty artists, from Yoko Ono to César, from John Cage to Kazuo Shiraga, from Lee Ufan to Robert Filliou, and from Daniel Spoerri to Ben Vautier, centred around more than one hundred works.

It shines a spotlight on a collection that has been formed through a desire to support creation and publishing rather than for accumulation or investment, thus revealing one of the art world’s personalities, who has remained behind the scenes for a long time.

More than a simple compilation of excep- tional works, this exhibition tells the story of an entire life. As his friend Ben wrote, it is a manifesto “for another way of living” with art and artists. By following a historical timeline, it illustrates how the collection has evolved through meetings and encounters. It describes Gino Di Maggio through his commitment to artists, his publishing work, and through the activity of his Milan foundation, Mudima, created in 1989 – the first in Italy to support contemporary art.

The exhibition looks back at the continued development of a collection defined by a taste for performance, for the search for interdisciplinarity in art, and for musical experi- mentation that expresses both humour and ingenuousness – a preference for form over content. The Grand Nave in Les Abattoirs has been transformed into the Grand Hall of Fluxus, where entirely revisited piano sounds can be heard. Pictorial and photographic works, drawings, sculptures, installations, and videos complete the overall experience.

Futurism was the starting point for Gino Di Maggio, as it triggered his curiosity in art. Originally from Sicily and a trained engineer, he came across this Italian art movement, first born in 1909, in the late 1950s. He saw it as the most radical and revolutionary form of a young avant-garde, enabling linguistic innovation to be explored through a gradual and experimental approach. The exhibition presents a set of futurist manifestos collected from around the globe, which through their radical gestures enable us to discover and go beyond the limits of art.

His selection of works reflects  his  travels and demonstrates the rich diversity of the movements that have inspired him: Fluxus (Europe), nouveau réalisme (France), poster artists, Asian precursors such as Mono-ha (Japan and Korea) and Gutai (Japan), and the Italian scene with kinetic art and pop art. The collection highlights the career of nearly fifty artists with whom Gino Di Maggio has spent time over the course of his life, including Arman, John Cage, César, Marcel Duchamp, Erró, Esther Ferrer, Allan Kaprow, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, Marinella Pirelli, Lei Saito, Lee Ufan, Ben Vautier, and Wolf Vostell.
Guided by the friendships he has developed with artists over the years, Gino Di Maggio is a talent scout as much as he is a collector.

Italy is, of course, far from absent in his collection, and thanks to Gino Di Maggio, we will be introduced to another side of Italian art. In addition to his friendships with such famous artists as Mario Merz, Cy Twombly, and Alighiero e Boetti, we will also discover the history of 20th century Italian art, often overshadowed by the success of Arte Povera. The exhibition reveals the extent to which the collector has supported poster artists, the kinetic movement, and abstract artists.

Beyond the celebratory aspect of such an exhibition, presenting this collection of works falls within one of Les Abattoirs’s three main guiding principles, that is, reinterpreting avant-garde works from the second half of the 20th century (for example, Jacqueline de Jong, Eduardo Chillida, Hessie, and Daniel Spoerri).

For its twenty-year anniversary, Les Abattoirs, Musée - Frac Occitanie Toulouse is reconnecting with the presentation of collections. This one, devoted to Gino Di Maggio, ensures continued reflection on the fundamental mechanisms that link the collector’s personality to the works and artists he selects: a history of art, a lifetime’s path.


Artists présented : Arthur Aeschbacher · Eric Andersen · Arman · Nanni Balestrini · Roberto Barni · Gianfranco Baruchello · Ben (Benjamin Vautier) · Gianni Bertini · Alighiero Boetti · George Brecht · John Cage · César · Giuseppe Chiari · Philip Corner · Sergio Dangelo · Marcel Duchamp · François Dufrêne · Koji Enokura · Erró · Esther Ferrer · Robert Filliou · Lucio Fontana · Fabrizio Garghetti · Patrizia Guerresi · Raymond Hains · Noriyuki Haraguchi · Toshimitsu Imaï · Joe Jones · Allan Kaprow · Milan Knížák · Susumu Koshimizu · Jean-Jacques Lebel . Daniele Lombardi · Sergio Lombardo · Uliano Lucas · George Maciunas · Renato Mambor · Piero Manzoni · Walter Marchetti · Livio Marzot · Giuliano Mauri · Charlotte Moorman · Angela Occhipinti · Yoko Ono · Nam June Paik · Antonio Paradiso · Ben Patterson · Marinella Pirelli · Renato Ranaldi · Man Ray · Mimmo Rotella · Lei Saito · Takako Saito · Nobuo Sekine · Carolee Schneemann · Kazuo Shiraga · Turi Simeti · Gianni Emilio Simonetti · Giuseppe Spagnulo · Daniel Spoerri · Fausta Squatriti · Mauro Staccioli · Studio Azzurro · Berty Skuber · Kishio Suga · Noboru Takayama · Atsuko Tanaka · Lee Ufan · Grazia Varisco · Jacques Villeglé · Nanda Vigo · Wolf Vostell · Robert Watts · Katsuro Yoshida | Manifestes futuristes


With the support of the Fondazione Mudima in Milan