The Wolfsoniana exhibition, conceived and curated by Silvia Barisione, Matteo Fochessati, and Gianni Franzone, comprises a careful selection of works that highlight the spirit of the Wolfson Collection in all its complexity and heterogeneity.
A chronological and thematic approach was chosen in organising the sequence of the works. This has allowed the museum to illustrate the chronology of the artistic and stylistic currents and the evolution of taste in the period 1880-1945, as well as to highlight the main themes running through the Collection: developments in the decorative arts, propaganda art, work, travel, transportation, and international fairs and exhibitions.
The museum foyer greets the visitor with a rapid introduction to the collection and to the collector. Four life-size marble statues by the Piedmontese sculptor Giuseppe Carnevale, representing Giuseppe Garibaldi, Giuseppe Mazzini, Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour, and Vittorio Emanuele II - Italy’s founding fathers - greet the visitors and lay out the historical landscape of the narrative recounted by the Wolfsoniana: the last decades of the 19th century, Italy’s tumultuous and tormented post-unification period.
Nearby, a sculpture by Giovanni Scapolla of Pavia in honour of the legionnaires who fought in the Spanish War and panels by the Florentine Futurist Ernesto Thayaht introduce the theme of propaganda art in an interesting juxtaposition exemplifying how a variety of expressive means were used in pursuit of the same end.
On the stairs we find Colossus, a life-size “headless portrait” in wax of Mitchell “Micky” Wolfson Jr., made specially for the Wolfsoniana by the American artist Michele Oka Doner. She is especially famous for her mosaic floors in a number of public buildings in the United States, including the suggestive Walk on the Beach for the Miami International Airport. Where, along a half mile stretch of a busy concourse, she created a unique floor by embedding two thousand cast bronze marine forms, no two of them alike, in a dark grey terrazzo matrix. Her works also decorate the Hayden Planetarium in New York, the Sacramento library, and the National Airport in Washington D.C.