London’s prosperous Mayfair neighborhood — known as a center of art and wealth since the seventeenth century — has been enriched at 22 Grafton Street by the new headquarters of the historic Cardi Gallery, founded in Milan in 1972.
Housed in a proportionally elegant late-eighteenth-century brick townhouse building, in a style conventionally recognized as Georgian, the gallery’s entrance, as well as the two large white windows that face the street, suggest a fusion of English and Palladian architecture.
Extensively renovated, the atmosphere inside is warm and welcoming. There are one thousand square meters across six floors, each of which is divided into two rooms with fireplaces that retain (at least on the ground floor and the first floor) the preciousness of the original marble. The meticulousness and care used in restoring this traditionally British environment is perceptible in the preservation of the original plasterwork, where possible; in the highly polished railing that surrounds the dense internal staircase; and in the highly characteristic upholstery patterned with gray and mustard tones that is matched to the light-gray carpet that lines the stairs.
After nearly fifty years of activities, here Cardi presents a selection of works from Arte Povera, American Minimalism and the Zero group. The Arte Povera works in particular take on a newly minted aura in this setting. For example, Maria a colori (1962–1993) and Tre Uomini (2007) by Michelangelo Pistoletto, and Rete Ghiacciante (1990) by Pier Paolo Calzolari, so perfectly inhabit this environment that they nearly eclipse works by Kounellis, Zorio and Penone.
In the basement, the essential humanity of Mario Merz is celebrated through a selection of works from the 1980s, among them Igloo (1983). Establishing it’s own spatial confines and while being enhanced by penetrating natural light, the work confirms the connection with nature and the open-mindedness that the artist’s job demands.