From a scientific viewpoint, the Museum is divided into 14 thematic sections that allow visitors to easily comprehend the distinctive features and history of the collections. The 214 works on display - 176 paintings and 38 sculptures – reflect the trends in fashion and taste that, since its foundation, have guided the acquisition of pieces that best represented modern art in Italy at the most famous national and international events (such as the Venice Biennale) of the early 20th century or at prestigious private art galleries, or through gifts and donations.
Yet, the exhibition itinerary is only the tip of the iceberg of the GAM’s collections, their finest and most visible expression.
The storage rooms, though hidden from sight, are an equally interesting part of the museum. They are a vital repository where artworks that have been left out, mainly for lack of space, are kept and still studied and made available by guided tours (monthly, every second Sunday), through the publication of a comprehensive catalogue and thematic exhibitions, such as the recent The Museum: History and Customs. Masterpieces from the storage rooms.
Discover the most important works of the museum
The monumental group of bronze statues takes inspiration from the Divine Comedy by Dante. Its remarkable artistic merit makes it one of the most appreciated artworks of the Gallery’s collections.
Giuseppe Sciuti, I Funerali di Timoleonte (oil on canvas, 1874.)
The painting depicts the funeral of Timoleon, the Corinthian hero, in the ancient agora of Syracuse. In this scene of unanimous and profound feeling, the painter metaphorically evokes the values of the Risorgimento’s heroes.
Erulo Eroli I Vespri siciliani (oil on canvas, 1890-1891)
This large-format painting is the recollection of one of the most significant events in Italian history. Thanks to its great civic value, the famous uprising called the Sicilian Vespers became an episode embodying the ideals of the Risorgimento, an example of democratic and patriotic uprising that was so very seductive for many 19th-century painters.
This painting is one of the most important works by this artist from Palermo. The dove, which refers to innocence, gives the portrait a clear symbolic value, a recurrent theme of Patania’s portraits. The presence of the dove also evokes Renaissance portraiture from the formal viewpoint.
This oil painting illustrates one of the myths dedicated to Zeus’ affairs. In particular, it depicts the version of the myth narrated by Ovid: the young Europa is abducted by Zeus, the sensuous father of the deities, disguised as a white bull. Eros holds the fearful girl, as she is withdrawing from the waves with her dress swollen by the wind.
This masterpiece by Liardo was exhibited at the Salon in Paris in 1866. The painter had joined the Red Shirts on May 1860 together with other Sicilian artists, amongst whom Francesco Lojacono, Vincenzo Ragusa and Ettore Ximenes.
Popular as the ‘sun thief’ for his careful rendering of light, Lojacono depicts the town from an observation point that had been widely used by Sicilian and foreigner artists. Veduta di Palermo (View of Palermo) is the remarkable combination of attention to details and the framing of the whole with a skilful use of colours and rendering of light.
The artist took inspiration for this large-scale painting during a stay at the residence of Baron La Lumia, who was a friend of his and owner of sulphur mines. The combination of this "humble" subject with such a large format makes the painting part of the realism genre and characterises it as a work of social criticism.
At the end of 1800s, the pictorial production of this painter from the Veneto is characterised by an increased attention to social issues and a true visual participation in the reality of the rural world.
This portrait of a very young girl wound in a soft towel is mainly an opportunity to play with colours and light. The subject is depicted with great freedom of expression and the language the painter uses is in line with the latest themes and styles of European taste.
A very remarkable painter, Antonino Leto was educated between Palermo, Florence, Naples and Paris. Despite his great success in Palermo and although the Florio family commissioned him many artworks, he decided to leave the town. This seaside landscape painting depicts a glimpse of Capri, the island where the painter retired to already in the 1880s.
Donated to the newly established Gallery by Vincenzo Florio in 1908 who had purchased it at the Venice Biennale, this painting depicts Taormina drenched by the sunlight with the imposing snow-capped Mount Etna overlooking it. His ease in spreading colours combines quickly with the background colours consisting of tiny filaments and juicy and thick brushstrokes.
During the 1800s, San Giovanni degli Eremiti was one of the most favoured sites by European travellers and one of the most loved subjects by painters. Rocco Lentini’s canvas depicts the eastern front with its apses, bearing evidence to the original blue colour of the domes prior to the restoration works the church underwent in 1882.
Catti focused here on the theme of the solitary road immersed in the glimpse of a village, almost a separate genre within landscape painting. The subject, full of sentimental nuances and emotional comparisons, thus becomes a melancholic visual metaphor of human existence.
Under an unusual autumnal light, Palermo looks like a European capital city in a neo-impressionist painting. Michele Catti combines the impressions of French painting with the themes of recollection and melancholy.
This painting was purchased at the Venice Biennale where it caused great sensation due to its disturbing expressive power. Franz von Stuck, the only foreign artist present in the museum collections, often dealt with themes linked to the conflict between Good and Evil, centring on bewitching female creatures such as the woman wound by the snake in the painting titled Il peccato.
Ettore Tito, Amore e le Parche (oil on canvas, 1909)
The painting depicts a fatal Eros who dominates on a subdued pair of lovers in agreement with the Fates. In his paintings Ettore Tito often dealt with allegorical subjects of symbolist taste that are often epically shaped and steeped in the Dionysian classicism of Nietzsche’s writings. Here Tito shows to have taken some themes from Aristide Sartorio and also looks to German painters.
Giovanni Boldini, Femme aux gants (oil on canvas, 1901)
The Femme aux gants (The glove-wearing girl) is Emiliana Concha De Ossa who was often portrayed by Boldini in Paris. In this painting, Emiliana is depicted above the waist and her dress is sketched with very quick strokes of colour. Boldini gives life to a quivering female figure, a symbol of "Parisianism and modernity".
In this painting, which was purchased at the Venice Biennale in 1928, the space is steep and altered. The figures inhabit Casorati’s ‘suspended world’ and are often isolated, silent, withdrawn when they are in a group. The geometries of the world map, the marks on the blackboard and book in the foreground, almost still lifes, are probably the echo of a complex geography of a world suspended between the two Wars.
Fausto Pirandello, Maternità. Mosè salvato (oil on canvas, 1934)
Like other works by this artist, Maternità (Motherhood) expresses an accurate and indirect knowledge of both European avant-garde movements and classic tradition. The reference to the Bible hints at the human, everyday nature of history and possibly also at the artist’s experience. His wife Pompilia with his newborn son Pierluigi perhaps posed for him.
Massimo Campigli, Le nozze (oil on canvas, 1934)
Having started as a self-educated painter, Campigli discovered Etruscan art at the Museum of Villa Giulia. In this Le Nozze (The Wedding), playful and serious at the same time, he has placed his ‘hourglass-shaped women’ around the bride, who is at the centre and portrayed from the front, solemn and completely white. These women evoke a world "elsewhere" and "otherwise".
This Autoritratto (Self-portrait) comes from a productive season, one rich in stimuli and characterised by an intense and deep use of colours. Having adopted a close and angled look, the artist takes on his traditional pose as a ‘melancholic’ man, with his hand holding up his face, a contemptuous and lazy cigarette in his mouth, and his sharp and lively look.
As Pippo Rizzo wrote, the painting of Elisa Maria Boglino features universality typical of fourteen-century classic art in Italy with a style full of life and humanity. By developing a very essential painting with well-mastered tones of colour and an almost rhythmic and balanced use of chiaroscuro, her figures exude a strong temperament already from the way their hands and feet are sketched.