Airport, please! Palazzo Luce showcases Italian design and art
Opening this spring in the Italian region of Puglia, Palazzo Luce is a splendid Baroque palace, a triumph of art and design, a superb holiday residence in a historic city. A project conceived by a Milan collector, Anna Maria Enselmi, a collector of Italian design since the mid-nineties, Palazzo Luce is now open to the public showing this impeccable design and furniture collection and showcasing art that includes site-specific commissions curated by Italy’s powerhouse dealer, Lia Rumma.
The 20th Century furniture and international art are integrated into the renovated Palazzo dei Conti di Lecce, a sprawling 18th-century jewel with 13th-century foundations, located just behind the Duomo in Lecce, Puglia’s baroque capital. All of this is set in the context of an exceptional architectural restoration, in which antique maiolica tiles and fresco detailing, gilded and painted cornices and doors have been preserved, as has a walled garden with views over the city’s Roman amphitheatre.
Every installation and juxtaposition of furniture and art is carefully conceived. While Enselmi may have steered the wishlist, the de facto artistic direction belongs largely to Rumma. “Nothing in this house is in its place by chance,” Enselmi says. “For Lia, the interactions between each work with the others, and within the environment, had to be flawless.
Everything is both reasoned and felt.” She cites the installment of 10 vintage gelatin prints of Marcel Duchamp, taken in 1972 by Ugo Mulas, as an example of that rigor: “She spent four solid hours on her feet while she shuffled the sequence. Not once did her concentration waver.”
This intersection of old and new is perfection personified. A stay at the Palazzo Luce will make the restrictions of Covid-19 a faded memory.
ANNA MARIA ENSELMI
Anna Maria Enselmi’s passion for design started as a student in Brera, at the heart of Milan’s design center, where she studied at the Brera Academy. A dedicated collector, Anna Maria Enselmi’s level of commitment and passion for Italian design is exemplified not only at the Palazzo Lecce but in her apartment in the Brera district of Milan. The former ballerina has been “captured” by design since she was a child. Instead of dolls and bracelets, I bought furniture magazines and I cut out the pieces I liked, and created binders with the title ‘I’ll have them’.
Lia Rumma Gallery was founded in Naples in 1971 with the solo show The Eighth Investigation by Joseph Kosuth. Since its inception, the gallery has played a fundamental role in discovering new artistic trends emerging from the international art scene such as Arte Povera, Minimal Art, Land Art and Conceptual Art and exhibiting emerging and prominent artists such as Joseph Kosuth, Haim Steinbach, Alberto Burri, Thomas Ruff, Anselm Kiefer, and William Kentridge.
The gallery has created a vibrant collaboration with galleries, curators, critics and collectors that has led to international prestigious events in museums and institutions both in Italy and abroad that include Anselm Kiefer’s permanent installation The Seven Heavenly Palaces inaugurated in 2004 at Hangar Bicocca in Milan; William Kentridge’s exhibitions Tapestries at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2007) and at Capodimonte Museum in Naples (2009).
In 2010 a solo show by Italian renown artist Ettore Spalletti launched the opening of a new three level gallery space in Milan.
Puglia, a southern region forming the heel of Italy’s “boot,” is known for its whitewashed hill towns, centuries-old farmland and hundreds of kilometers of Mediterranean coastline. Capital Bari is an active port and university town, while Lecce is known as “Florence of the South” for its baroque architecture. Alberobello and the Itria Valley are home to “trulli,” stone huts with distinctive conical roofs.