The Rome Quadriennale set to make a big comeback in 2020

Stefano Collicelli Cagol

Sarah Cosulich and Stefano Collicelli Cagol

The 17th Quadriennale d’arte, the large-scale exhibition of Italian art planned for 2020, constitutes the culmination of a series of initiatives that the Fondazione will launch in 2018. The initiatives are presented today by the president of the Quadriennale, Franco Bernabè, and its artistic director, Sarah Cosulich. The new format, which sees the involvement of an artistic director for the first time, aims to consolidate the mission of the Quadriennale through an ongoing program of activities promoting contemporary Italian art, spread over the course of the three year period.

Founded in 1927, the Quadriennale is an institution that showcases the best of the art produced in Italy every four years. With the addition of an artistic director, and the implementation of a coherent and continuous strategy and work process, the institution intends to infuse the country’s art system with new energies fundamental to its development.

The project for the 2018-2020 period maintains the Quadriennale’s mission to be an active and proactive partner in the Italian art system, stimulating dialogue and exchanges of ideas within the region and enhancing the visibility and prospects of Italian artists by promoting them abroad. The idea is, on the one hand, to provide tools and ideas capable of propelling artistic production in Italy, and on the other to enrich the Quadriennale with an international dimension, thus enhancing the visibility of the institution itself.


Q2020 designates both the preparatory research process and the final outcome, the 17th Art Quadriennale of 2020.

Q-RATED is a program of workshops and symposiums, held in Italy, conceived to stimulate the exchange of ideas within the region while also enriching the prospects of Italian artists and their opening toward the outside.

Q-INTERNATIONAL is a new initiative focused on supporting foreign institutions that exhibit Italian artists, thus broadening the latter’s international presence.

These three initiatives have been designed in relation to one another, functioning through an interlocking logic whereby each project benefits from the action of the other two. Together, they will ensure that the 2020 exhibition is met with a pluralism of approaches and due depth of research, as well as acknowledging the importance of the Quadriennale archive and guaranteeing its growth and currency. The three initiatives aim to strengthen the Italian art system, both within and outside the country, thanks to ongoing dialogue with Italian and international museums, institutions and art world professionals. The aim is to make the Quadriennale an important point of meeting and exchange: a cornerstone institution in our country, with a leading role in the international system.


Q-Rated is a project consisting in a series of three-day workshops held three times a year, led by three prominent international curators and artists, and open to young Italian artists and curators selected through an open call. The workshops, which will be held in the main Italian cities (Rome, Palermo, Turin, Naples, Venice, Milan), represent a crucial tool of international dialogue and confrontation for artists active in Italy, but also an opportunity – rare in the Italian system – to relate visions and approaches in a trans-local way.

The project will be enhanced by a series of annual symposiums held in Rome. Centering on diverse issues, the symposiums will serve to rethink the influences and directions in contemporary Italian art in the light of its recent past and the changes that have affected its systems of formation, production and circulation. With the involvement of scholars, academics and critics, as well as curators and artists, the symposiums will generate new research material on Italian art, while functioning both as think tanks for the final exhibition and as sounding boards, conveying ideas and stimuli from the world to Italy and from Italy to the world.


Q-International is a project designed to support foreign exhibition initiatives that feature Italian artists. Using resources generated by fundraising activities, the project intends to fill a gap in our country and to support Italian art abroad following a model already present in other European contexts. Relying on a targeted call for applications, Q-International will offer prompt and specific support for costs related to hosting Italian artists in international institutions, ranging from the transportation and insurance of art works, to travel and accommodation expenses, to contributions toward performances or publications. A committee made up of Italian artists and museum directors will be responsible for selecting the most interesting projects among the applications submitted. The Q-International initiative will allow the Quadriennale to foster the international visibility of Italian artists through continuous dialogue and exchange with foreign museums, foundations and art institutions; to map the Italian presence in various foreign locations; and to promote the strategic role of the Quadriennale as a reference point in our own national system.


In order to ensure the pluralism and completeness of the Quadriennale’s research, the project conceived by artistic director Sarah Cosulich relies on the involvement of another curator. To this end, Cosulich has invited Stefano Collicelli Cagol (Padua, 1978) to act as co-head of curating for the 2020 exhibition, the regional research, and the workshop and symposium activities of the three years leading up to the exhibition. Collicelli Cagol is a curator and scholar, with outstanding knowledge of Italian art history and in particular of the history of exhibitions. Fully conversant with our country’s current artistic panorama (Italian artists, studios and academies), he also has extensive experience working outside of Italy.


Sarah Cosulich (1974) completed her BA in art history in Washington D.C. and her MA in contemporary art criticism in London, with a thesis on the relationship between the Commedia dell’arte and the work of Maurizio Cattelan. Following her first collaborations in Berlin, at the Jewish Museum and in various alternative spaces, she went on to work at the Tate Modern in London in 2001.

Cosulich began her career in contemporary art alongside Francesco Bonami at the 50th Venice Biennale, working with artists such as Fischli and Weiss, Gabriel Orozco, Matthew Barney and Rudolf Stingel. From 2004 to 2008 she was a curator at the Villa Manin Centre for Contemporary Art, where she curated exhibitions and special projects by more than thirty artists, including Carsten Hoeller, Pawel Althamer, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Damian Ortega, Tobias Rehberger, Paola Pivi, Monika Sosnowska, Alberto Garutti and Tomas Saraceno. Between 2009 and 2010 she conceived the exhibition program of the Cardi Black Box gallery in Milan, curating a number of its iterations, from Thomas Bayrle’s solo show to the photographic group exhibition featuring Letizia Battaglia, Arnold Odermatt and Enrique Metinides.

Between 2012 and 2017 Cosulich directed Artissima in Turin, where she extended the fair’s international reach by developing new ways of involving curators and collectors, as well as conceiving innovative formats and new sections. For Artissima she also designed a number of collateral exhibition projects, from One Torino in 2013, a collaboration with the leading Turin museums, to Shit and Die, curated by Maurizio Cattelan in 2014. In 2016, Cosulich curated Flying Home, a site-specific project by Thomas Bayrle at the Turin airport.

Her writings include monographs on Jeff Koons (2006) and Gabriel Orozco (2008) and  she has collaborated widely with both Italian and foreign universities.

Cosulich has recently acted as a development consultant for Manifesta12 Palermo and currently collaborates with Mutina, a company for which she has created a program for supporting, producing and presenting contemporary art.


Stefano Collicelli Cagol (Padua, 1978) is an exhibition historian and independent curator. He holds a BA in cultural conservation from the University Ca’ Foscari in Venice (2002) and a PhD from the Royal College of Art in London (2014), with a thesis on the history of themed contemporary art exhibitions in Italy from the Thirties to the Sixties. Since 2018 he has been a lecturer in the MA program in Design for Arts at the Politecnico di Torino.

Alongside his academic activity, Collicelli Cagol has developed a curatorial practice through various projects in Italy and abroad. His earliest experience was at the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, for the exhibition The Moderns curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (2003), followed by a role as assistant curator at the Villa Manin Centre for Contemporary Art. In 2011 he was assistant curator for the exhibition Un’espressione geografica at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, where he worked with, among others, Victor Man, Johanna Billing, Isabelle Cornaro, Markus Schinwald, Andro Wekua and Ibon Aranberri.

At Sandretto Re Rebaudengo he also coordinated the Young Curators Residency program (2010-2013) and contributed to conceiving and teaching in the CAMPO course for curators. These projects broadened his understanding of the state of the Italian art system and its emerging exponents, as did the ninth edition of the Furla Prize (2012), where, together with the curator of the Stedelijk Museum Bart Van Der Heide, he nominated the winner Chiara Fumai. In Italy, he has worked as an independent curator at the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art; Artissima, Turin; Palazzo Grassi, Venice; GAM – Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, Turin; Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venice; and the Marino Marini Museum, Florence.

Since 2015 he has been Curator at Large at the Trondheim Kunstmuseum in Norway, where he has presented the work of artists Lawrence Abu Hamdan and Sidsel Meineche Hansen. He has also collaborated with a number of other international institutions including LUX Artists’ Moving Image, London; the steirischer herbst festival, Graz; the V-A-C Foundation in Moscow and Venice; the curated by_vienna, festival, Vienna; and Art-O-Rama, Marseilles. He has published numerous academic papers on the history of exhibitions and his articles have appeared in Stedelijk Studies, Domus and Flash Art.