In the treasure chest of Mercanteinfiera, among author's canvases, ancient relics and vintage curiosities – Parma
A showcase of the collateral exhibition The street of glass beads from Venice to Timbuctu XV-XX century set up for Mercante in Fiera. Photo: © DANILO MARCHESI – STILL LIFE PHOTO
In the colored artistic swirl of Mercanteinfiera there is always room for surprise. Also in this edition number 37 of the international exhibition of modernism, antiques and collectibles underway in Parma until 7 October the watchword is wonder. And it is not important to be assiduous habitué of the stands set up, for each edition, by about one thousand exhibitors. The traditional walk through the pavilions of vintage and antiques, between the corner of the restoration and the section dedicated to garden furniture, is never the same and always amazes with its eccentric curiosity and the objects passed from hand to hand until to bring stories and tales from all over the world to Parma.
Take a walk between a De Nittis and a Rotella
Just point your eyes to find a flask of bone and silver in the 18th century, a plate painted by Salvatore Fiume a Figure of a standing woman made by Giuseppe De Nittis in 1804, authenticated by Luigi Marini and surrounded by his contemporary frame.
And it does not matter if the path taken by the nineteenth century Indonesian bed, from the seventeenth-century Tuscan chair in original leather, of the great wooden horse arrived from Nepal to Arezzo can even escape the seller who came to possess these curious objects. What most fascinates the visitor is also this mystery that surrounds the many relics of Mercanteinfiera . Like those accounting books that belonged to a farm in Mugello, dated 1753, that talk about the goods and livestock that belonged to who knows who
In this sort of Wunderkammer where the connoisseurs hunt for rarities and less experts rely on perfumes, stories, nostalgic memories, the etchings by Renato Guttuso meet the actions photographed by Renato Mambor – stylized and ironic setting in the image of simple acts and daily gestures – while , it may happen that a Mimmo Rotella peeps through the visitors with one of the nine copies of I Replicanti .
For lovers of contemporary art, a stop is a must for Collezionando Gallery – at pavilion 6 – where Ada Egidio is ready to enthusiastically describe the latest works by the visual artist Giusy Lauriola and those by Primo Formenti, the inspiration nonconformist of the pixel artist Krayon and the women in the envelopes of the letters of Fabio Imperiale, the landscapes of the Serbian artist Cristina Milakovic and the creations of Guillaume.
If, on the other hand, you have a precise idea of the art object to buy and prefer to compare directly with the gallery owners, far from the frenetic stand-offs of the stands, take a leap to Hall 7 where, at the same time Mercanteinfiera takes place Art Parma Fair la exhibition market of modern and contemporary art which this year celebrates its ninth edition. In this reasoned showcase that welcomes the most influential artistic currents, gathering a large audience of prestigious galleries, including works by Renato Schifano Giosetta Fioroni, Guttuso, De Chirico, Mario Sironi, Giò Ponti, Michelangelo Pistoletto, you will not have the embarrassment of choice.
From the backstage of Mercanteinfiera Photo: © Danilo Marchesi – Photo Still life
Mercanteinauto: the art on four wheels
But the autumn edition of Mercanteinfiera is also a tribute to the lovers of the four wheels, since on the opening weekend of the international kermesse dedicated to antiques, modernism and vintage collecting signed Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermès and Manolo Blahnik, the new edition of Mercanteinauto has enlivened the guests with the roar of Ferrari's engines, with the vintage elegance of the Vespa 400 models from all over Europe, and with the legendary Vespa.
The way of glass beads from Venice to Timbuctu  And even if in this colorful journey between old vinyl and vintage clothing items, including antique wardrobes, charcoal-cradle warmers and timeless jukeboxes, time will seem to flow in a hurry, do not forget to t ppa in one of the side events of Mercanteinfiera, set up in Hall 4. On the other hand, it is from here, from the history of the Venetian pearl collector, Augusto Panini, that begins the journey through the wonders of this international festival dedicated to 'arte .
The story of the pearl collector seems to capture the spirit of the art exhibition in Parma: going beyond commerce to wander between pleasure, beauty and feeling.
In this exhibition, small but well prepared, will be the colors of glass beads to surprise you, along with the raw materials and additives used for the manufacture of glass, to the catchy tales of Augusto Panini, curator, together with Paolo Aquilini, of the exhibition La via delle perle of glass from Venice to Timbuctu XV-XX century .
Already from the fourteenth century, the glass bead was considered a valid currency of exchange, and that is why the ships of the Serenissima reached the ports of Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, places of departure of the caravans to the rich Timbuctu, Agades, Oulata markets. They were sought after by almost all the African ethnic groups who used them in daily life and in tribal rituals as magical and apotropaic elements. And to respond to the ever increasing demands of the large companies that traded with Africa, America, South East Asia, in Venice the glassworks passed from 24 in 1525 to 250 in 1606, developing over one hundred thousand different types of pearls.
The collection exhibited on the occasion of Mercanteinfiera covers the entire historical route of Venetian production of Roman and Byzantine tradition from the imitation of precious stones to the discovery of the layered pearl, to the colorful mosaic millefiori .
From the exhibition The glass beads from Venice to Timbuktu from the 15th to the 20th century glass beads with adventurous decorations and comb decorations. Murano, Venice, 19th-20th century. Photo: © Danilo Marchesi – Foto Still Life
"Although I do not have the gene of the collector in my DNA – explains Augusto Panini – I confess that I never thought of looking for glass beads. They are rather them to have found me. When, between 1980 and 1995, I found myself attending West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea for work reasons, I came into contact with extraordinary places, an expression of the local culture, including masks, wooden figurines, textiles, of which the sellers rarely knew where they came from. The necklaces of glass beads, in particular, were splendid. They had a very affordable price and so every trip I bought a certain amount to give as gifts. It was only later that I realized that those collections represented for over a millennium one of the most important commodities of exchange and commercial trafficking between Europe and Africa ".
And so this passion, born by chance, took shape in the exhibition: six show cases to welcome the "margaritas" as they were called in the 1300 pearls, from the turquoise ones that represent life to the eye, made to drive away the negative influences.
The ancient art of the Serenissima crosses with Mercanteinfiera rites and magic of African cultures lighting up that kaleidoscopic puzzle that stuns and bewitches, with its exotic charm that brings to Parma the wonder of discovery.
Luigi Magnani: an illustrious example of passionate collecting
A fil rouge thin runs from Mercanteinfiera to the precious casket of an illustrious collector. Although Luigi Magnani rather liked to be defined as "passionate about art". And he was truly in love with art and beauty, this farsighted man who in 1977 wanted to honor the memory of his father and mother, Donna Eugenia Rocca, with a foundation to host an art collection that includes, among others, works of Gentile da Fabriano and Filippo Lippi, Dürer Titian and Francisco Goya, De Chirico and Burri, Canova and Bartolini.
In Mamiano, in the beautiful Villa dei Capolavori – immersed in a flourishing century-old park and recognized museum location in 1990 – you still breathe the atmosphere of home, between Empire style furniture and the large malachite cup from Thomire, a gift of Tsar Alexander I to Napoleon. Here people like Alberto Moravia, Ugo Mulas, Giorio Morandi, were at home.
Antonio Canova, Tersicore 1811, Carrara marble, Parma, Magnani-Rocca Foundation. Photo: © Samantha De Martin
One would spend hours contemplating the Tersicore by Antonio Canova or getting lost in the metaphysical atmospheres of De Chirico, but the beautiful retrospective dedicated to the genius of Pop Art, Roy Lichtenstein and in progress until 9 December invites us to accelerate the pace. The path, very well set up, compares the artist's icons, taken from the world of comics and advertising, with the works of his fellow artists of adventure, from Warhol and Indiana to D'Arcangelo and Wesselmann.
Soon a review of De Chirico will follow. Another good reason to visit Parma before the great celebrations that will see the Queen of the Food Valley cover the title of Italian Capital of Culture 2020 .