Lia Rumma, alongside her husband Marcello, began collecting art and supporting exhibitions and events in the 1960s. Legendary is the exhibition Arte Povera + Azioni Povere (1968), promoted by them in the Arsenals of Amalfi and curated by Germano Celant, which marked the birth of the Arte Povera movement. After Marcello’s death, Lia Rumma opened her first gallery in Naples in 1971 with the exhibition The Eighth Investigation by Joseph Kosuth. In 1999 she opened her second space, in Milan, with a solo show by Enrico Castellani.
From the beginning, Lia Rumma Gallery has played a fundamental role in the discovery of emerging trends on the international art scene such as Arte Povera, Minimalism and Conceptual Art, then exploring the languages of photography, painting and performance art. Over the years, the gallery has organized and supported public projects in Italy and abroad, such as The Seven Heavenly Palaces by Anselm Kiefer at Pirelli HangarBicocca in Milan. In 2010, a solo show by Ettore Spalletti celebrated the opening of a large three-level space in Milan. The building, conceived for art and artists, marked a new and fundamental stage in the history of the gallery.
I Am Hymns of the New Temples, Wael Shawky
“I chose two cities, two spaces and two contexts for my galleries that were like night and day, making them, in my view, perfectly complementary. ”
Lia Rumma. Courtesy Galleria Lia Rumma, Milan / Naples. Photo: Danilo Ursini
In conversation with Lia Rumma, Galleria Lia Rumma
How did your path in art begin?
I started collecting art in the early 1960s with my husband, Marcello Rumma: we were barely over twenty-years-old. We were living in Salerno and, although young, we wanted to find out what was happening in contemporary art. We got in touch with the most prestigious galleries of the time. When Marcello died in 1970, I moved to Naples and opened my gallery.
How did you choose the gallery’s locations?
I chose two cities, two spaces and two contexts for my galleries that were like night and day, making them, in my view, perfectly complementary. On the one hand, we have warm, mad Naples; on the other hand, we have pragmatic, organised Milan. The defining features of both cities merge together in my galleries, creating a rare synergy.
What kind of art do you deal with?
The Galleria Lia Rumma deals with contemporary art, ranging from already firmly established artists like Anselm Kiefer, William Kentridge and Joseph Kosuth to emerging and mid-career artists who advance their work with insatiable curiosity.
Is there an Italian institution that you have a particularly close tie to or a project that you would like to mention?
There are several projects I feel a strong connection to: Anselm Kiefer’s Sette Palazzi Celesti at the Pirelli HangarBicocca in Milan; Triumphs and Laments, the impressive temporary frieze created by William Kentridge on an embankment along the Tiber River in Rome; the permanent installations in Neapolitan metro stations by Joseph Kosuth, William Kentridge and Gian Maria Tosatti: all works that enter into constant contact with our everyday lives.
How do you build your relationships with young collectors? And how do you keep the ones with regular clients fresh?
Whether we are talking about young collectors or regular ones, the relationship is always built on mutual trust. This is why it often and happily becomes a personal relationship, enlivened by shared passion for art and mutual esteem.