The first nucleus of works to make up the CSAC’s future Art Section dates back to 1968, when a series of exhibitions dedicated to contemporary art was organized at the Art History Institute of the University of Parma. This project, proposed by Arturo Carlo Quintavalle and modelled on American collections, not only took a closer look at contemporary works using the latest critical methods, but above all sought to create a public art collection that was intimately linked to teaching and research, i.e. to the university world. Following these initial exhibitions, the artists themselves donated works that they considered significant to the University’s collection, to add to its burgeoning and substantial patrimony.
In the early Eighties, the acquisition strategies changed when the exhibitions organized by what had become the University’s Study Centre and Communication Archive, began to show significant nuclei of works donated to the CSAC. By 1977, the Fine Art section already boasted over 200 works by 107 artists, mostly donated by their creators, but also partially by some of Italy’s leading gallery owners.
The CSAC offered a sweeping view of Italy’s post-war artistic currents: Realism with Renato Guttuso; Abstraction with Carla Accardi, Emilio Scanavino, Mario Radice, and Nicola Carrino; Informal with Giuseppe Santomaso and Arnaldo Pomodoro; Arte Povera with Mario Ceroli; Conceptual with Alighiero Boetti, to name but a few.
The continual acquisition means the Fine Art Section now has over 1,700 paintings, 300 sculptures, and 17,000 drawings as well as a substantial bibliography and other documentation linked to its reserves; crucial tools for study, teaching and research.