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Galleria dell'Ariete records, 1955-1993

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Finding aid for the Galleria dell'Ariete records, 1955-1993

Biographical/Historical note

Beatrice Monti della Corte opened the Galleria dell'Ariete at Via San Andrea, 5, Milan, Italy in 1955, when she was twenty-five years old, principally as a showplace for modern art-her first major exhibition at the gallery was of lithographs and engravings by Picasso-though the formal statutes of the company state that its object is 'il commercio in generale di opere d'arte antiche e moderne'. Thus Monti della Corte regularly exhibited and dealt in such items as 17th to 19th century Indian miniature paintings, Afghan kilims and dhurries, 19th century American patchwork quilts, and 18th and 19th century Italian folk paintings on glass. A 1958 exhibition, Tauromachia, brought together engravings of bullfighting subjects by Goya and Picasso.

However, the main focus was on the work of living artists, and the Galleria dell'Ariete rapidly became one of the foremost Italian galleries for contemporary art, forming close connections with such like-minded establishments as the galleries of Kasmin and Waddington in London, and Leo Castelli, Ileana Sonnabend, and Betty Parsons in New York. Monti della Corte had a special interest in introducing modern-especially new, young-Italian artists to American collectors, through her contacts with American dealers, and in promoting modern American artists in Italy, through her own gallery. Artists such as Cy Twombly, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jasper Johns amongst the Americans, and Andrea Cascella, Enrico Castellani, and Luigi Parzini amongst Italians were particular enthusiasms of hers, as was the Spaniard Antoni Tápies, and she kept in personal contact with some of them even after she had finally closed the gallery. She was also amongst the first to exhibit the work of the English artists Francis Bacon and David Hockney in Italy, and, as her business became established, she started to bring modern Asian art, especially Japanese, within its range.

In 1970 Monti della Corte opened a new section of the Galleria dell'Ariete, at the same Via San Andrea address, under the name Ariete Grafica. It was dedicated to drawings, lithographs, engravings, prints, and editions of small sculptures, leaving the main gallery free to concentrate on paintings and large sculptures. Ariete Grafica itself published editions of works in various media by a number of artists. A list from 1980 has twenty-one names of "artisti delle nostri edizioni"; amongst them, Andrea Cascella, Diego Esposito, Barry Flanagan, Nancy Martin, Luigi Parzini, and Shu Takahashi, and including a serial work by Alan Shields in the form of hand-painted, beaded crochet panels.

Monti della Corte closed Galleria dell'Ariete as an exhibition space on November 30, 1979, though she maintained an office at Via San Andrea, and from it carried on dealing in paintings and sculpture under the gallery's name for a few more years. The records contain papers related to these transactions dated up to 1983. Ariete Grafica remained open at the same address, and exhibitions were held and business conducted there into the mid-1980s, by which time the gallery was handling paintings and sculptures as well as graphic arts. As late as 1993 Monti della Corte was using the Via San Andrea address to deal with paperwork connected to her loans of artworks from her personal collection for exhibitions at museums and other galleries, but her own galleries were, by then, closed. Monti della Corte married the novelist Baron Gregor von Rezzori in the 1960s.

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