The history of one of the most impressive collections in Europe is quite particular. Francesco Federici Cerruti (1922-2015) was one of the richest entrepreneurs in the graphics industry – he printed telephone directories and made his fortune with them. Despite this, he led an almost monastic life. He lived in a modest apartment in Turin, close to the company. He did not marry or have public affairs with lovers. His hobby was collecting, both rare books, furniture and art, which he gathered in a country house in Rivoli, built for his parents in the 1960s, but who refused to live there. On the outside, it has a modernist design, but inside it's like an XNUMXth or XNUMXth century palace in miniature.

In this house, Cerruti slept only once. But it was in this environment that he spent his Sundays reading newspapers and appreciating his works, which date from the 300th century to contemporary art, whose most famous name is Andy Warhol. In total, it houses 300 paintings and sculptures, 200 pieces of furniture and XNUMX rare books.
While he was alive, Cerruti created a foundation to maintain his collection – since he had no heirs – and the Castello di Rivoli was chosen to manage the house-museum. It was almost four years, between 2016 and 2019, that Carolyn Christov-Bakarkiev dedicated herself to organizing the collection.

“The idea was to keep the works of art as they were in the house, but, at the same time, guarantee the safety and climate conditions of a museum”, he explains. Despite being a house, the curator points out a dramatic character in its constitution. “This house was a kind of theater for Cerruti, he never lived there, there wasn't even gas in the kitchen. Regardless of the period, which goes from 1300 to the XNUMXth century, the works were exhibited in a domestic environment”, explains the director.

And this “domestic spirit” was maintained to avoid the dominant white cube in typical XNUMXth century exhibition spaces. “The museum of modern art created a white space that generates value for the work, but which also distances it from its function, which is to elaborate life through the symbolic, to use a Lacanian term. So I tried to keep that domestic spirit”, says Carolyn.

She compares Cerruti's house to another space organized by the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, in Istanbul, a fictional museum created together with the book The Museum of Innocence. The obvious difference is that while in Pamuk's museum the characters he addresses are in fact fictional, Cerruti, despite all the mystery surrounding his story, was himself the one who gathered the entire collection, buying the works especially in galleries and auctions. Castello di Rivoli itself, recalls the curator, also has a similar history, as it was a residence of the Savoy family. “Cerruti helps me to look at Castello di Rivoli in a fresh way,” says Carolyn.

The collection is quite eclectic, with a very international tone, without trying to reflect Italian production, especially from the Arte Povera movement, which had many artists living in the region. Thus, stellar names such as Francis Bacon and Warhol himself are some of the most prominent contemporaries, but the modernists are the vast majority in the collection, including Kandinsky, Miró, Renoir, Chagall, Egon Schiele, Giacometti, Magritte and Picasso. Of course, renowned Italians were also included, such as Morandi, Giorgio de Chirico, Lucia Fontana, Giacomo Balla and Modigliani. Cerruti's last purchase was in 1914, five years before his death, at a Sotheby's auction, a painting by Renoir, Young Woman with Roses, from 1897.

While museums should be concerned with creating collections that deal with the history of art in a broad and inclusive way, collections such as Cerruti's reflect the collector's mind, and visiting the house is like entering it. ✱

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