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Nostalgia for art salons

Nostalgia for art salons

Evicted from cafés and living rooms, have art intellectuals lost their voice or have they gone to occupy other spaces?

Too much pragmatism. The fixed thought of invoicing. The fear of not making ends meet. There are several conditions of human beings that put an end to the search for value, social prestige, civil and cultural commitment. Once upon a time, we are talking about the 1700s, culture escaped from the academies and the courts to meet the people at full speed. One had to fight backwardness and ignorance in order to progress in order to improve one’s situation. This gave rise to literary cafés and cultural salons, mostly of the nobility. The salons of noble ladies, such as the one in Paris of Madame Marie Thérès Geoffrin, as stated by Diderot himself who frequented it with Rousseau and D’Alembert, were frequented by all those who cared about their fame, social prestige and civil and cultural commitment.

The Left Bank of the Seine in Paris’ Saint Germain-des-Prés district is famous for being home to the world’s most famous literary cafés. These range from Le Procope, the oldest and also of Italian origin, to Café de Flore, not forgetting the legendary Café de la Paix, La Closerie des Lilas, Les Deux Magots, Les éditeurs and many others. In fact, in France, the fashion for the café as an intellectual workplace has never really gone out of fashion. The majority of those who need only a laptop to do their work do so in cafés. It is easy to meet journalists, writers, poets, copywriters, storytellers sitting at a bar table writing. The use of free wi-fi is a powerful attractor. In Italy there is no such custom. Instead of bars, we prefer coworking spaces where culture also takes place. Cowo, Copernico, Talent Garden, Impact Hub are just some of the existing networks in Italy.

In both cases, however, the aspect of comparison is less basic. People prefer the economic sphere to the highest systems and then return to the personal sphere. Indeed, many intellectuals and artists complain about the lack of a forum for debate. Perhaps because the discussion is already being addressed, in a way that is always too sterile, on social media.

The same intellectuals entrenched in their jargon and their phobia of maintaining the status quo have been swept away by the strings of zeros and ones. Or perhaps, more simply, in a very noisy virtual square, their calm tone can no longer be heard.

What if the living rooms had turned into something else? Spaces such as Campo Teatrale, a cultural and artistic production centre born from the renovation of spaces linked to Milan’s textile industry, is definitely a virtuous example. Here, all those involved in the world of theatre, including set designers, work together to disseminate culture. Realities like these are not widespread, but they do exist. One of these is Art Sharing Roma, which, tired of selfishness, intellectual condescension and in-your-face doors, has opened its doors to figurative artists and all art lovers, just like Teelent.

Perhaps all is not lost. In Piedmont, and specifically in Alba, the Ceretto, Chiarlo and Farinetti families are three wine-growing families very committed to the spread of culture and art. In San Cassiano, where the Acino dei Ceretto is located, it is easy to attend book presentations. At their Cubo di vetro in Castiglion Falletto, on the other hand, it is normal to meet artists in residence in the act of creating some work. Pulling the strings was the excellent Roberta. In the Fontanafredda theatre, however, it is Oscar Farinetti who invites prominent public figures with something to say. And the Chiarlo family, under the guidance of Laura, is also active in spreading culture accompanied by a good glass of wine. These are no longer salons all’ancienne, but new places where those who have ears to listen can get a true sense of the air.

We at Teelent recently had the honour of sitting in one of these prestigious lounges (taking care, of course, not to sit on the sofa on display, an incredible piece of design by SM Living Couture): a place unlike any other, in the heart of Genoa but out of time, a meeting place like those of the past but projected into the future. Loredana Trestin, curator and art manager, is the host and initiator of the event, and a new and distinguished partner of the Teelent’s Family. Genova in salotto, the name of her new format, is an open and welcoming space located on the first floor of the prestigious Palazzo Saluzzo dei Rolli, in the rooms that house CAD’s art, creativity and design showroom, a few steps from the Duomo, in the heart of the city. Just like in a living room, guests are invited to converse and discuss topics related to current cultural events in an environment where every object becomes an experience to be lived and, if desired, purchased: art, high tech, design, interior decoration. The first meeting, dedicated to the 2030 Agenda’s goal of empowering women and girls worldwide, was attended by leading representatives from the arts (including us!!!), creativity, music and the legal sector who shared their knowledge and experience with those present. This is what a cultural salon is at the end of the day: a place to share and to leave with the feeling of being at home.