The Cassino Museum of Contemporary Art (CaMusAC) is one of Italy’s newest public art galleries. The collection began more than 30 years ago when Sergio and Maria Longo married and started to gather artworks for their home. In October 2013 the couple opened CaMusAC to house their extensive collection of sculptures and artworks and make them available to a wider public. The garden features sculptures made from ArcelorMittal's Indaten® steel and other materials.
“We decided to make the museum available to local schools and students,” explains Sergio Longo. “It is difficult for young people from the local area to reach the major museums in Rome or Naples. CaMusAC provides an opportunity for them to experience contemporary art.” The gallery is also open to the public at weekends and is staffed by members of the Longo family and friends.
CaMusAC occupies a warehouse and private garden located near the family home in Cassino – midway between Rome and Naples. The warehouse was previously used to store finished steel produced by Sergio Longo’s company Iron. Converting the building from warehouse to art gallery required very little work explains Sergio: “We just removed the steel products, painted the interior, added lighting and a new floor and then placed the artworks.”
In the early years of their marriage, Sergio and Maria collected works from a range of artists including Corrado Cagli and Paul Klee. A meeting with art critic Bruno Corà in the late 1980s helped the Longo’s to focus their collection on living artists. “Through Bruno Corà we started to learn more about contemporary art and together we organised a number of seminars on the subject,” explains Sergio Longo. “Bruno also advised us on which artists we should collect. But we do not buy an artwork just on his opinion – first we must really like the work. There has to be a personal connection before we say yes.”
The CaMusAC collection includes works by more than 100 contemporary artists. Many of the works were purchased from living artists, enabling the Longo’s to establish personal relationships with them. “We know about 70% of the artists represented in the collection,” explains Sergio.
The warehouse is used to display small and fragile works from the permanent collection including paintings, photography and sculptures made from steel, wood, glass, marble and metals.
But it is in the sculpture garden where Sergio Longo’s work with steel and his passion for art come together. The garden features sculptures made from Indaten® steel and other materials. Many of the steel sculptures were built in the garden itself with the help of local craftspeople.
Larger and more complex works are produced at the Iron factory in Perugia. Owned by the Longo family, Iron is a leading supplier of large diameter tubing and prefabricated sheet-steel solutions. As well as working with construction grades, Iron creates products (and sculptures!) using specialty steels such as Indaten®.
“With artists such as Beverly Pepper, we have worked together in the garden or at the Iron facility to make sculptures for the collection,” explains Sergio. Pepper, now 92, is known for her monumental works, many of them constructed in Indaten® weathering steel made by ArcelorMittal. When it is exposed to the natural environment, Indaten® develops a beautiful patina that serves as a protective coating and which changes over time.
The Iron team have worked with Japanese sculptor Shigeru Saito since he first started working with Indaten®. The Indaten® steel, supplied by ArcelorMittal, is processed at the Iron plant before the final sculptures are assembled in the CaMusAC garden. Small versions of some works were also created and displayed in an exhibition of Saito’s work in Milan.
“Indaten® is used mainly for its unique natural colour, and because it doesn’t need to be finished with other materials,” notes Sergio. “The works are made from plates which are assembled to create the curves you see in the finished sculpture. Even though artists such as Beverly work on such a massive scale, we have never had any technical difficulties working with Indaten®. We’ve always been able to translate the imagination of the artist into the finished work.”
In addition to the permanent collection, CaMusAC hosts temporary exhibitions. The first – titled ‘Infinity’ – has been curated by the Longo’s long-term advisor, Bruno Corà. The exhibition features modular metal structures by Italian artist Enrico Castellani, and works by Japanese sculptor Shigeru Saito who has created works in steel, Indaten® and other metals.
Whether it’s acquiring works, helping artists to realise their visions, or simply sharing the collection with the world, the personal touch is the most important to the Longo's. So don’t be surprised if you’re greeted at the door by Sergio, Maria or another member of the CaMusAC family.
ArcelorMittal will host a small version of Shigeru Saito’s ‘Composito’ sculpture on its stand at Made in Steel 2015. Like the full-scale work, the maquette is made from Indaten® steel supplied by ArcelorMittal. Made in Steel takes place in Milan, Italy, from 20 to 22 May 2015.
Shigeru Saito - 'Composito'
Giuseppe Gallo - 'Punto fermo'
Beverly Pepper - 'Nuovo twist'
Exhibition of Saito’s work in Milan, from left to right: Carlo Malasomma (ArcelorMittal Commercial Italy S.r.l, country head) - Riccardo Del Prete (ArcelorMittal Commercial Italy S.r.l, account manager) - Sergio Longo (Iron, owner)
Copyright pictures: Iron