WHEN IN ROME: If London was so Nineties — and many European art world observers do believe that city’s artistic supernova has peaked and is dimming — what city is the next European art hotbed? Berlin? Paris? Vienna? Would you believe Rome? Contrary to all expectations, it seems that the Eternal City is getting some hot contemporary buzz. “Even a month ago, I wouldn’t have thought about Rome,” says Hans Ulrich Obrist, the globetrotting curator at the Musee d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (host of the current Philippe Parreno show and this fall’s Matthew Barney Cremaster exhibition). “Now, suddenly, I am hearing about it everywhere.”

While avant-garde architect Zaha Hadid’s new Center for Contemporary Arts is under construction, the heat-seeking set, including, Gavin Brown, darling of New York’s edgy downtown art scene, is homing in. In late June, Brown, along with Glasgow gallerist Toby Webster and Torino’s Franco Noero, opened Roma Roma Roma, a gallery in the Trastevere. “Rome is not a museum, it’s a living city where history piles up on history,” says Brown, who first investigated opening a gallery there two years ago. “It’s a muscular, functioning modern city.”

This story first appeared in the July 3, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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