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New Museum

British artists inaugurate new Roman museum

A US-based private collector is putting his art on public display

London

The Florida-based Italian collector Carlo Bilotti will inaugurate a new museum this month in Rome. The Museo Bilotti is housed inside the Orangery of Rome’s Villa Borghese which has been restored at a cost of E1.6m ($2.1m) provided by the city council.

Two temporary exhibitions a year—drawn mainly from the Bilotti collection and organised by the independent curator Gianni Mercurio—will take place on the ground floor.

The inaugural show (until 1 October) includes new paintings by the British artist Jenny Saville and works from the 2004 series “The Four Evangelists” by Damien Hirst. Works by the American artist David Salle are also included. An exhibition of work by Willem de Kooning is planned for 2007.

Eighteen paintings by De Chirico, a portrait of Mr Bilotti’s wife and late daughter by Andy Warhol and a painting of the collector by Larry Rivers will be on permanent display on the first floor.

Damien Hirst’s Biblical paintings were originally scheduled to go on show in the chapel of Il Divino Amore in Villa Ada, north Rome, which Mr Bilotti hoped to convert into a centre for contemporary art. He is in discussion with the city council about leasing the deconsecrated chapel for 80 years but this project has now stalled owing to the dilapidated state of the building.

Mr Bilotti told The Art Newspaper that “the city will do the basic construction work to restore the structure and the roof of the building and then we will make a final decision [about leasing the chapel]. At the moment, the building is in such bad condition that it is hardly accessible.”

Another Bilotti project in Rome is also on hold. An exhibition of his collection of 20th-century art which includes works by Matisse and Picasso, among others, scheduled to open last month at the Palazzo Venezia, has been delayed to January 2007. Mr Bilotti says that the launch clashed with the opening of the Museo Bilotti and that the cost of the exhibition has now been factored into Palazzo Venezia’s budget for next year.