Over 66 years of activity
It’s history but already looks like legend.
It may happen, in a world that goes faster and faster,
that day after day creates something new in order to accelerate, to overtake, to remove.
And to forget.
Thus, when fashion movements find themselves burned out before their time, when ideologies once thought
eternal disappear in a handful of decades, when even society’s most solid foundations – which for centuries
regulated the pacing of life – are overwhelmed by the onslaught of the newer generations, events going back
sixty-six years take on the aura of Myth.
A history that begins in the mid-twentieth century and that, with unshakeable will and drive but also ever-renewing, youthful energy, faces the challenges of the new millennium.
An approach born from chance... from passion... maybe from Fate, who wanted it done. Or maybe from a mix of all the above-mentioned elements. Who knows?
It was 1953. Post-war Italy was still a country on its knees, with a mostly-agricultural economy and a comparable cultural level. Few but solid certainties, little or no propensity towards anything which couldn’t be easily and rapidly understood. An Italy still distant from its first mass-market compact cars and its highways; which saw itself reflected in Vittorio De Sica’s movie “Bicycle Thieves” and whose motorization dreams went only as far as scooters like Vespa or Lambretta. In such a country, what could bring a young man from a small town in the Po valley to organize painting exhibitions? Chance, passion, Fate? It meant to challenge widespread mindsets, to face disbelief and skepticism, to withstand derision and commiseration. It meant to try and talk about Modern Art to people who saved money in order to purchase a horse or a cow; it meant to risk ostracism.
In the village of Villimpenta, 1,800 souls in the Mantova province, a tiny dot visible only on the most
detailed maps, there was a small factory for processing marsh grasses. It would mean nothing to today’s overachieving youth, yet it was a not-so-small fortune for those times and for the family who managed it: Romano Stefanini and his wife Gina. In spite of his father Romano’s hesitation and powerful reserves, and thanks to his mother Gina’s support, Arvedo Stefanini was able to leverage the affluence assured by the family business to start his adventures in the world of Art, organizing exhibitions for the Gonzaghesca Art Gallery in Mantova. Then he founded the EIDAC Art Gallery (an acronym for Ente Internazionale Di Arte Culturale, International Institution for Cultural Arts),located in Milan on 8 via Morigi. For Arvedo, always supported by his wife Anita, that meant the achievement of an old dream. Having his own location, to host the works of the artists he’d met, meant a real confidence booster as well as a powerful incentive. With the help of art critics such as C. Munari, R. De Grada and M. de Micheli, he managed to create truly extraordinary exhibitions. The first one, the “Mostra dei Maestri” (“Masters’ Exhibition”),featured works by Morandi, De Chirico, Carrà, Rosai, Soffici, Sironi, De Pisis; the following one, “Mostra Generationale di Mezzo” (“Exhibition of the Middle Generation”),spotlighted Guttuso, Morlotti, Sassu, Cassinari, Birolli, Migneco. The third one, “I Giovani” (“The Youngsters”),called attention to Brindisi, Treccani, Rognoni, Dova and Crippa; lastly, completing the outline of a whole artistic generation, came “Le Proposte” (“The Proposals”),which launched Baratella, De Filippi, Tinè, Bonalumi.
It was the year 1961. Italy celebrated its centenary. Turin hosted the “Italia ’61” exhibition; celebrations and parties followed one another. In theatres, Domenico Modugno and Delia Scala with “Rinaldo in Campo” and Renato Rascel with “Enrico ‘61” got sold-out shows every night reminding Italians of their first hundred years of unity.
Italy was in the midst of its economic boom and likewise a “boom” was the launch of the new, prestigious venue for the gallery in 3 via S. Andrea. The first exhibition, a personal by E. Morlotti organized by O. Patani, received such critical and public acclaim that it was considered the most relevant artistic event of the time; immediately afterwards came a personal exhibition by Xavier Bueno, followed by another exceptional exploit, made possible by the collaboration of Galleria Schettini, with the twin exhibition featuring Dova and Crippa. Later, thanks to the support of critic Dino Villani and of Sergio Negri di Guastalla, came an artist so peculiar that his greatness took years to be truly appreciated: Antonio Ligabue.
In 1970 the Galleria moved to its new address at 4 piazza Mirabello. The location was amazing and so were the events it hosted. Since the inauguration – celebrated by mayor Aldo Aniasi – it saw a succession of memorable events, ranging from a collective exhibition of Masters and Up-and-Comers to one featuring old drawings by Remo Brindisi, to “Eduard Pignon – Tempera and Oil Paintings”, to the Renato Guttuso personal exhibition, not to mention E. Treccani, E. Scanavino, D. Purificato, B. Cassinari with his "Satyricon". The Galleria Pace at the time represented the most important meeting point in the city between artists, critics and personalities. Casual acquaintances became long-term partnerships and a simple disagreement could mean the end of a long friendship; those halls entertained the biggest names in art, culture, politics and business of the Sixties and Seventies. It was a thrilling, vital, feverish time, which also marked the full participation of Arvedo’s son, Gimmi, to the family business.
The firm found new impetus. It started the execution of auctions, with Gimmi Stefanini always in the role of crier and which magnified the gallery’s fame and sphere of influence. At the same time it was able to take part in the most important international events, as well as go forward with the everyday activity of showcasing personal and collective exhibitions.
1986 saw another fundamental turning point as the Galleria, now completely managed by Gimmi Stefanini, moved to its new and prestigious location of 1 piazza San Marco, in the heart of the Brera district.
Business restarted apace with personal exhibitions by Brindisi, Cassinari, Tozzi, alternating with permanent collective showings; at the same time the auction program was intensified. The end of the Nineties saw the start of a titanic endeavor, creating the complete catalog of the works by Maestro Remo Brindisi, with the publishing – by the Galleria itself – of a quartet of volumes; the project has currently reached the third tome. Given the significance and quality of said work, the son of Roberto Crippa, Roberto Jr., has decided to formally entrust the Galleria with a similar task regarding the works of Maestro Crippa.
In well over half a century since Arvedo’s brilliant, crazy intuition throughout the expansion managed by his son Gimmi, constantly aided by his own wife Rita and now also by their daughters Liria and Chiara together with a highly capable staff, Galleria Pace has reached an enviable milestone after a journey at times challenging, but always consistent with its mission.
In retracing – however briefly – these sixty-six years of history we cannot help but to feel proud of our achievements, at the same time considering them as a starting point for further endeavors. Already equipped for the new possibilities offered by market globalization and e-commerce, Galleria Pace is ready for the challenges of the new millennium. To face them while respecting our long-term tradition of professionalism and quality will always be our first and ultimate goal.